JJ’s pre-school class has been learning about Chinese New Year this week. Last week he came home from school with a note asking parents to send along a Chinese snack the following week for all of the kids to try. How fun I thought, that’s a great way to celebrate Chinese New Year with toddlers. Then I got to the end of the note… all snacks must be nut, egg and gluten free. Damn, damn, damn. Seriously? How on earth are parents supposed to supply a total of 13 nut, egg & gluten free ready to eat Chinese snacks?
I was desperate to avoid a situation where every kid showed up with a bag of prawn crackers, so I tried to have a think as to whether I could make make something a bit more authentic myself. After scouring Pinterest for nut, egg and gluten free recipes, it looked like the best thing would be steamed rice buns. But after speaking to one of my Chinese friends, I opted not to make them because he said they don’t taste very nice if they’re not freshly steamed.
Back to the drawing board.
I quickly came to the conclusion that no matter how much effort I put into making something really authentic, no three year old was going to appreciate the amount of time and effort it would take me to make it. So I made the rational decision to buy something instead.
We’re fortunate enough to live near a Wing Yip (a chain of massive Chinese & Asian super stores) so I thought I’d take JJ on a bit of an adventure, with the hope that he might learn a little something about Chinese culture as well.
After I picked JJ up from school on Wednesday we headed to Wing Yip. We practiced saying ‘Gung Hay Fat Choy’ the whole car ride there, and by the end of it he was actually saying it pretty well!
JJ was so excited to get into the shop to see what Chinese New Year was all about. He loved seeing the red and gold lanterns, and multicoloured dragons hanging from the ceiling. We walked up and down the aisles looking at the huge array of soy sauces, dumplings, noodles and yummy fresh cakes. I couldn’t help from picking up a few large bottles of the sauces which are staples in our kitchen. I also choose a few of my favourite Japanese sweets. JJ insisted on getting a package of Pocky (Mikado in the UK), or ‘chocolate sticks’ as he likes to call them. He also wanted to ride in the trolley so he could get a better view of everything – especially the fresh lobster tank, and its filtration system.
We ended up choosing some pandan coconut mochi (a sweet chewy ball made from gelatinous rice flour rolled in coconut) to share with the class. I wanted JJ to try some traditional Chinese dumplings for dinner, so we purchased a Dim Sum variety pack and a bamboo steamer to cook them in. He was also very intrigued with the concept of eating with chop sticks, so he chose his very own pair!
When we got home and JJ helped me make dinner. Some leftover udon noodle stir fry from a recipe I’ve been testing (I’ll share it with you soon!), and some of the dim sum dumplings we bought earlier which he helped put into the steamer. I was so proud of him for trying so many different things, and he did pretty well at eating the dumplings with his new chopsticks – with a little bit of help from me.