With the festive season just around the corner, here’s a complete guide on how to create the best Chinese and Vietnamese Edible Gifts for your loved ones. We’ve got you covered from quick and easy desserts to hamper sets your friends and family will ACTUALLY use. We even show you how to impress them with delicious ready-made delicacies!
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The Gift I’ve Always Wanted To Give
It’s no secret how much I love Asian food. I cook it, I eat it, I breathe it. So it’s only natural for me to want to give the gift of what I love most in the world.
Trouble is, I never find anything suitable!
Don’t get me wrong…there are tons of great edible gift options online. One simple search and you’ll have recipes for the best chocolate bark, fruit jams and cookies of all shapes and sizes.
But for someone who grew up as an Asian and celebrated Christmas and the Lunar New Year predominantly with Chinese and Vietnamese festive food, even the vast world wide web couldn’t accomodate for that.
That’s why I had to take it into my own hands. To all my Asian food lovers out there, here’s my take on edible Christmas gifts – Chinese and Vietnamese style!
Where To Begin
Who Are You Buying For?
Before you start, it’s important to narrow down the type of person you’re going to be giving the gift to. Make sure to ask yourself all the right questions!
Here are some things you might want to consider:
- Do they love desserts or do they prefer savory food?
- Are they a vegetarian? Are they a meat lover?
- How do they spend their free time?
- Is there anything they can’t eat?
The reason why you need to ask these questions is simple: there’s no point gifting something that takes a few hours to cook when they only have a few moments a day to themselves!
Likewise, if you know they have a huge sweet tooth, it might be a better option to make a dessert rather than a savory sauce.
At the end of the day, it’s YOU who knows your friends, family and colleagues best!
What Food Packaging Will You Need?
I personally love packaging my Asian edible gifts in something that can be reused while still looking festive and fabulous. There’s a huge variety to choose from:
- Tins – Good ol’ sturdy metal tins are great for baked goods like cookies or brownies. Make sure they come with lids so you can seal in the freshness.
- Treat bags – Great for lollies, nuts, biscuits and any dried goods. Tie with a festive ribbon and personalize it using a label for a gorgeous treat.
- Takeout boxes – I know, I know…this is typical Chinese fast food stereotype. But seriously, there’s no denying how cute and compact they are, especially with that practical handle! Make it extra fancy with some tinsel, lace or natural twine to complete the look.
- Cardboard boxes – You can get these just about anywhere. Jut line them with baking paper or shredded paper for the perfect gift box.
- Mason/Sealed jars – I’ve been receiving many edible gifts in these lately. The best part is that I can reuse them for my own recipes, especially for sauces that you want to keep in the fridge! Tie a bell or charm just under the lid for a polished and upscale look.
- Glass bottles – They’re ideal for homemade oils, juices or drinks that you might like to make this festive season. Wrap a bow around the neck and it’ll make it just that much fancier.
- Baskets/Trays – These are my choice for hamper sets, especially when each gift is individually packaged. You can parcel the whole basket or tray in cellophane or have each item wrapped up. I love tying a ribbon or bow to secure everything inside as a finishing touch.
Regardless of which way you package your Asian Edible Gifts, it’s always a nice treat to see that it’s handmade with love!
Our Favorite Recipes To Gift
The best thing about Chinese soups is that there’s a huge variety that uses dried ingredients. It’s perfect for storing in decorated mason jars and super nourishing when cooked. Check out our giftable ideas:
- Snow Fungus Dessert Soup (雪耳糖水) – As pictured above. Put the dried ingredients in an airtight jar with instructions on how much water they’ll need. Alternatively, package the goods in clear plastic lolly bags and tuck them neatly into a decorative box, basket or bucket.
- Buddha Jumps Over The Wall Soup (佛跳墙) – I would put the dehydrated items in a hamper along with store-bought (or homemade) chicken stock and dried or canned abalone. A card or tag would be perfect for writing a message about what do to with the Silkie chicken and pork.
- Ching Bo Leung (清補涼) – You can get all the dried goods from Asian supermarkets and layer them in a glass jar. This recipe can be made sweet or savory (with a stock), so include a set of instructions to make it easier to follow.
- Fish Maw Soup – Buy fish maw from supermarkets or Chinese medicinal stores, then put them in a pretty container. If you have it in a clear box or jar, the person receiving the gift will also be able to see the luxury item! You can wrap it up with some seasoned stock to complete the recipe.
It might be convenient to buy sauces from the shops, but nothing beats homemade sauces. They’re a great choice because they can be used however the recipient wants. I love gifting them in jars with a ribbon or leaves to add a personal touch.
These are our best sauces to share as an Asian Edible Gift:
- Mum’s lemongrass blend from her signature Bún Bò Huế Chay (Vegetarian Spicy Noodle Soup) – It’s used in a noodle soup, but as a blend itself, it’s perfect with stir fries, rice, noodles and grilled recipes. The blend adds a generous amount of flavor with a wonderful spice kick!
- Sa Tế (Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Sauce) – There’s a reason why you get Sa Tế at restaurants – it makes every savory meal instantly taste better. For those who love robust aromatics, this is the go-to sauce.
- Nước Mắm (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce) – I don’t know any Vietnamese family that doesn’t have this readily stocked in their fridge, but for my foodie friends who aren’t Vietnamese, Nước Mắm is a MUST. It can be drizzled on almost every savory dish from Vietnam and is a signature flavor that can’t be missed.
- Nước Màu (Vietnamese Caramel Sauce) – Grandma uses this for her favorite braising recipes, so it’s a pantry staple that your loved ones will really appreciate having within reach. Use it as a substitute for dark soy sauce to add color to dishes including Cá Kho Tộ (Vietnamese Braised Fish) or Thịt Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly and Eggs in Coconut Water).
- Muối Ớt (Vietnamese Chili Salt) – This is an incredibly easy way to take advantage of tropical or sour fruits. Take your loved ones to the streets of Vietnam with this deliciously addictive chili salt.
- Sichuan Garlic Chili Oil – For the Sichuan food lovers who enjoy spice, you can’t go wrong with this sauce. It’s fragrant and full of aromatics infused straight into the oil.
- XO Sauce (XO 酱) – XO anything is always a luxury, and this sauce is no different. You can make it as expensive a gift as you like with premium ingredients like dried shrimp and scallops.
- Scallion Ginger Sauce (薑蔥油) – When I posted this recipe, the response was TREMENDOUS. Without a doubt, this is our most popular sauce. The best part is you can make so many portions easily!
Frozen Asian Edible Gifts keep on giving because it’s often the case where only a few are cooked at a time. That means the rest are put back in the freezer to be enjoyed at a later time – yum!
I prefer wrapping frozen goods in materials that are more resistant to water since they may thaw a little out of the freezer and make the packaging wet. In the past, I’ve put the food in plastic ziplock bags and wrapped it in 2-3 layers of baking paper.
Then, to make it that little bit fancier, I would use curled balloon ribbons with a ‘handmade with love’ sticker to tie it all together. Leave them in the freezer overnight and gift the next day.
Try making these for your friends and family (or buy them frozen if you’re really stuck for time):
- Bánh Bao (Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns) – If you have friends or family who are parents to young children, they’ll love you for these. Bánh Bao is a fantastic meal that can be frozen once made so that all it takes is a quick steam to reheat them again. Place them in freeze-safe bags or boxes to send as an edible gift.
- Seafood Rolls – These are super plump fried rolls bursting with flavor. Just give clear written or verbal instructions on what to do with them and your recipient will be good to go.
- Chạo Tôm (Sugar Cane Shrimp) – Another deliciously juicy appetizer that’s perfect for the family. It’s quite common these days to buy Chạo Tôm, so surprise your friends and family with homemade ones!
- Chả Giò Chay (Vegetarian Spring Rolls) – Shatteringly crisp, the filling is aromatic and creamy from the nutty taro. There’s also incredible texture from all the vegetables.
- Chả Giò (Vietnamese Spring Rolls) – These are similar to the vegetarian version, but you can mix in ground pork to add another level of flavor and meat juice that gets sealed in with the crunch!
After watching Laura in the Kitchen’s DIY Baking Mixes years ago, I knew I had to make an Asian version. She cleverly stores the dried ingredients in large mason jars and decorates the jars with a ribbon and festive label.
Try these dessert options packaged in the same way for maximum freshness:
- Coconut Pandan Waffles (Bánh Kẹp) – Everyone loves a good waffle, especially one fresh out of the waffle maker. To gift this, I would keep everything but the pandan extract and coconut cream in the glass container. You can tie the extract to the jar separately or put everything in a hamper or tray. For a layered look, put each ingredient into the jar one layer at a time.
- Black Sesame Soup (芝麻糊) – Chinese dessert lovers will be so excited for this nutty and thick sweet soup. If you plan on giving this as an Asian Edible Gift, I suggest blending all the sesame seeds first before putting the powder in the jar.
- Black Sesame Tang Yuan (黑芝麻汤圆) – Tang yuan is an absolute treat to have at any time of the day. These can be made ahead of time and frozen, then placed in freezer-safe bags to be gifted.
- Taro and Sweet Potato Balls Dessert (九份芋圓) – Your friends and family will love how these taro and sweet potato balls are made using natural colors and flavors. They freeze well too, so just need to be packaged and cooked in boiling water when ready to eat. Served with a sweet ginger syrup or in a drink, they’re a delicious go-to.
- Chinese Almond Cookies (杏仁餅) – Anyone who loves deep nutty flavors can appreciate just how crumbly and buttery these traditional cookies are. Gift them in a jar or wrapped in baking paper with a ribbon.
- Smiling Sesame Cookie Balls (笑口棗) – These are traditionally sold and eaten during the Lunar New Year festival, but that’s not to say that they won’t be welcome any other time. Place them in an air-tight jar or a bag with a ribbon and they’ll be a delicious edible gift.
- 100-Hour Fudgy Matcha Brownies – Who doesn’t love fudgy brownies as a present? Your friends and family will love it even more when the smell of Christmas is coming straight out of their own oven. Just make sure to pair it with written instructions on how to bake these brownies!
Sometimes, there’s just no time for cooking or baking during the rush of the holiday season. That’s why having a basket or decorative serving tray is the perfect solution for DIY Asian Edible Gifts. Just pack, wrap and go!
Here are our favorite hamper packages for your food loving friends (don’t we all have one of those!):
- Dried herbal ingredients for soups – I like to get them handpicked by Chinese herb experts in medicinal shops. But you can also buy each dried herb in Asian supermarkets. If you decide to do the latter, you can personally choose which herb combinations to gift your loved ones.
- Dried, preserved and cured goods – These are terrific because they last for ages! Chinese sausages are a great start, but you can complete the package by adding cured pork, salted fish or dehydrated mushrooms. Check out our Dehydated, Cured and Preserved Ingredients page for more!
- An assortment of dried noodles – Whether your foodie friend is a lover of noodle soups or soupless noodles, a hamper of a generous variety will keep them excited for their next meal. They’re sold dried, so will last for quite some time. Learn more about noodle types from out page on Everything You Need To Know About Noodles!
However you may decide to spread the love during this festive season, I hope you have a wonderful break with many end-of-year banquets! Enjoy your holidays and the very best wishes from the Wok & Kin family!
Want More Home Cooked Recipes?
This post was originally published on 11/12/20 and updated with new photos in December 2022.