Happy Chinese New Year!

by Forager on January 27, 2009

It’s Chinese New Year!

Like most Chinese families, we had a family gathering on CNY eve to enjoy each other’s company and eat lots of great food. Traditionally, Chinese families will splash out on this meal as great CNY eve banquets in turn reflect on the wealth and prosperity of the family – a sign that the year has been good and rewarding. The phrase to describe banquets, “da yu, da rou” is particularly appropriate here as it quite literally means “big fish, big meat”. Our dinner certainly contained that!

The feast included a steamed red snapper with ginger and shallots – the flesh of the fish succulent and tender with the fishyness balanced by the freshness of the ginger and shallots. The aroma of the ginger and shallots was further enhanced by pouring hot oil over the ginger, shallots and fish topped with a drizzle of soy. Delightful!

And no feast of mine could possibly be complete without my favourite crustacean! So at my request we also had blue swimmer crabs cooked with black beans, chilli, shallots and shiso leaves – the traditional way my father always cooks crab. The sauce permeated right through to the crab flesh and made for some serious finger licking fun. To add to the messiness we had chilli and tomato king prawns. The prawns were first pan fried in the shell to really bring out an intense prawn flavour. The amount of chilli was just right – enough to give the dish some zing without causing any gasps of chilli hyperventilation.

There was also some soya chicken and roast pork – usual suspects in any banquet. Lastly, to round out the meal, we had some stewed bean curd and vegetables – the star of which was amazingly sweet chinese cabbage – so sweet in fact that it tasted like honey was added to the dish. The secret, my mother confided, was to buy slightly older chinese cabbage – the fresher the cabbage, the blander and more washed out the flavour.

So it was a feast complete with sweet, savoury, chilli and rich flavours. Most importantly, this delicious meal brought the family together and had us all together, sharing food and very full, happy and satisfied. It’s how the Chinese celebrate the new year. If you celebrated the new year – hope you had a fantastic feast too!

Wishing everyone a very happy, prosperous and delicious year of the Ox!

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