Oops, bit late with this post but better late than never, right? =P Chinese New Year is literally a time of feasting. If our extended family were also here, I’m sure it would be even more gluttonous. My stomach literally screams at me to be empty for just one minute of the day.
Every year, without fail, my Dad and I would whip up our reunion dinners at home. It’s much more cost-effective than going out to restaurants, and we can enjoy the food in the comfort of our home without being rushed to leave. Like Iron Chef Michiba, we plan our menu and write it down beforehand. It’s a surprisingly fun (though headache-inducing) task whilst trying to choose appropriate dishes and keep a reasonable number of dishes.
One thing in my family is that we either go for 8, 10 or 12 dishes on CNY because of the meaning behind the numbers in Chinese. This year, we had to have our dinner a day early as Mum and Dad were due to fly out to Sydney for work so we had our dinner on the 17th rather than the 18th. As we were all busy with work, especially preparing everything for mum and dad’s trip, we decided to downscale a bit and made 8 dishes only. It might seem a lot still but we usually have 12!
First up is the soup! A potent chicken, abalone and fish maw soup. I love fish maw! No photo of this though because I was busy prepping everything else. You can see it in the first photo though!
The crowning glory of our CNY feasts is our 大平盤 (da ping poon), or cold platter. We usually have about 6 types of food on it but this year just decided on pig tongue, pig legs, Shandong chicken, and jellyfish lo hei. We had no wanton skin at home so I fried some 米粉 (mei fun) to add some crunch.
As we hail from northern china, 水餃 (sui gau) and 饅頭 (man tou) are a common occurence in our house and a must-have on CNY reunion nights. These were simply pork and chinese cabbage because one brother doesn’t eat prawns, and both don’t eat chives =.=’ We make the mantou in fish shapes because 年年有”魚” =P
CNY is definitely the night for more luxurious food such as 鮑魚海參 (bau yu hoi sum; abalone & sea cucumber). This is the real deal! The sea cucumber was fat and delicious with its gelatinous texture, and the abalone was super tender. I sliced the abalone from the soup and then braised it first because adding the sea cucumber. Even the lettuce underneath is delicious because it’s smothered with the sauce! haha.
The year of the goat will bring us lots of 蠔豉 or (ho sii; dried oyster), and 髮菜 (fatt choi; black moss) because we had heaps of them on the table =P This is a play on the words 發財好事 which means luck and good things. I love eating fatt choi – I used to think that your hair will be more black if you ate this hahaha! The mushrooms in there absorbed all the sauce and it was awesome biting into it.
You absolutely must have a whole steamed fish on the table for CNY reunion dinners. I just steamed this the Cantonese way with spring onion, ginger and soy sauce. Look at it’s fin sticking up – it’s like the fish is saying “eat me first because I’m delicious!” lol. Ok maybe not, maybe that’s what I was thinking =P
Last but not least, the “prawn” of the night which is actually lobster. We usually have prawns but Mum felt like lobster so we bought some a couple of days before, ate the heads then reserved the meat for tonight’s dinner. Dad just cooked this with ginger and spring onion to preserve the lobster’s sweetness.
And so that concludes our reunion dinner this year! I can’t believe the CNY period is over already…time really does pass too quickly for my liking =(
Let’s all embrace the year of the goat and have a great year ahead!
Thanks for reading! ^^