First, the box itself. One box is orange colored lacquer ware and has the Chinese character "FU" on it. It means "good fortune" and "happiness." The candy box is always round to signify togetherness - no sharp corners or edges. When open, it reveals seven little shallow porcelain trays. The filled candy box is brought out when guests arrive and is enjoyed with freshly brewed tea.
The pictures show two of my lacquer candy boxes. The dark one with the phoenix design is my favorite -- delicate and understated. It belonged to my mother. You can see that the box appears rather deep, but in actuality the trays are flat and it's mostly empty space underneath.
|Candy Box with Chinese character "FU"|
|My mother's lacquer candy box|
|Candy Box with Shallow Porcelain dishes|
What's in my candy box?
|Candy Box filled with symbolic foods for the New Year|
Starting a the far left at 7:00 are candied kumquats symbolizing wealth and prosperity; wrapped in colorful cellophane are walnut and date candies symbolizing a sweet year; the candied lotus roots for purity and if I had room, I would have put out candied lotus seeds which symbolize many children, i.e. fertility; then there's candied coconut ribbons, the coconut symbolizes togetherness; there's the candied melon representing growth and good health; then hard coconut candy and finally, in the center, peanuts that I oven roasted with 5-spice powder, they represent longevity. I don't have the requisite watermelon or squash seeds, both symbolizing fertility -- just not enough room.
I wish I could share my lucky candy box with you, but alas it can be done only virtually.... At least I can share my Five-Spice Roasted Peanuts recipe with you. They are really easy to make and are delicious -- anytime. If you are on a sodium restricted diet, you may omit the salt or reduce it to taste.
Five Spice Long Life Peanuts
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Five Spice Powder
1 pound raw, blanched peanuts
Dissolve salt and five spice powder in 1/4 cup hot water. Put peanuts in an ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Pour the salt mixture over the peanuts and mix until the nuts are evenly coated. Spread out in a single layer and let sit for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 F.
Roast the nuts for 30 to 35 minutes until they are lightly golden brown. Stir occasionally for even roasting. When done, remove nuts from the oven and let them cool completely before serving or storing. When cool, the peanuts will be crisp.
Copyright 2012 by Helen Chen. All rights reserved.
So, for all of you, Xin Nian Kwai Le (Happy New Year) and Wan Shi Ru Yi (May all your wishes come true).