Today is the 22nd of December (农历十一月二十八）and we are celebrating the 冬至 (Winter Solstice, Dōngzhì)) festival. Tonight is the longest night of the year.
Technically, we are all older by one year today. To celebrate this festival, there is the standard festive dinner but the key festive food item today is a sweet dish. This is the TangYuan or 汤圆 or sweet glutinous rice balls.
To make the dough for the tangyuan (汤圆), just knead water and glutinous rice flour until the dough is a nice consistency that does not stick to the hand or fall apart when making the balls. The rice ball is usually about 1.5 cm in diameter. In our family, mum always make the rice ball in the traditional pink and white ... nowadays you get them in rainbow colours!
Cook the tangyuan (汤圆) by adding them to boiling water and cook until the rice balls float. Then they are ready to be added to the sugar syrup.The sugar syrup is just water and sugar though we flavour the syrup by adding the very fragrant pandan leaves (which are removed after the syrup is ready).
Just add the cooked tangyuan (汤圆) to the pandan-flavoured sugar syrup and there you have it!
Have a good time and enjoy your tangyuan (汤圆) and the festive dinner with your family!
The 冬至 (Winter Solstice, Dōngzhì Festival) festival is on the 22nd of December (农历十一月二十八）and as for each of the festival days in the Lunar Year, my nephew, Fah, who is the third son of my eldest sister, will send over festival food a few days earlier for my mum in a 4-tier tiffin carrier and a big bowl of fried noodles.
Lee （李） family of my eldest sister is a family of chefs but in their
businesses, they specialise in making fresh hand-made noodles and have
three companies supplying the bulk of the fresh noodles used in Kuching.
They also export to Kuala Lumpur, Johore and Singapore. For family
festive occasions, they will make and cook special noodles for the celebrations. I love their duck eggs noodle specially made for the Lunar New Year!
Back to the food for the 冬至 (Winter Solstice) festival......see the spread of three meat, one soup and one noodle dishes.
Fried egg noodles （炒全蛋面) using their specially-made all-eggs noodles.
Curry Chicken （加里鸡）
Deep-fried shaomai (烧卖)
Stewed Duck in Sweet Sauce (甜卤鸭）
Seafood And Meatball Soup (海鲜肉圆汤）
The menu varies from festival to festival but the noodle dish is always part of the menu. Yummy!
Besides the sea of durians that can be seen at the Satok Market, you can also see the rambutan (红毛丹, Nephelium lappaceum).... the hairy fruit. We do not have a rambutan tree in our garden but they can be seen in most of our neighbouring gardens. The trees are big and the crown spreading but they do attract lots of ants - especially the big fire ants that we rather do without!!
The fruit is shaped like an egg and varieties are in red, yellow and all shades in between with soft spiny hairs. Some
are red with green tips on the hair.
The Chinese called them 红毛丹 even for the yellow varieties except the character for yellow is added in front - 黄红毛丹.
These yellow rambutan are from the garden of TK's eldest sister, Sai Cheng. TK visits them regularly to collect these large plump juicy fruit :-P
The fruits can range
in acidity - the yellow varieties tending to be more acidic than red. However, most cultivated varieties are plump, sweet, juicy and aromatic; the translucent flesh surrounding a large seed. Some cultivated varieties are freestone.
Here is what the fruit looks like cross-section longitudinally .
Some varieties tend to have the flesh comes off with the skin of the seed attached to it, known to the Chinese as "脱壳“.
We all love eating rambutan though my mum and I have a slight preference for those fruits that do not have this
trait while TK does not seems to care. My nephew, Liang, loves
rambutan and cannot get enough of them so he is the beneficiary of TK's largesse!
At Satok Market now, it is RM2 (USD0.70) for a big bunch. So it is time to indulge!!!
The Sarawak fruits season is here again. After the huge deluge of the King of Fruits (durian), the Queen of Fruits (果后) can now be seen everywhere and we are all spoilt for choice!
Indeed, it is one of my favourite fruits - the mangosteen (山竹).
They are arriving by the lorry loads from various parts of Sarawak and from Kalimantan in Indonesia. The local Sarawak mangosteen is slightly different from that of Indonesia in that the local fruit is more fragrant.
Just look at the delectable snow white flesh of the mangosteen! It is as sweet as honey!
One interesting bit of information courtesy of my brother, Khiong .... just take a look at the base of the mangosteen.
See the remains of the style? See the six or seven petals? I was told that there are also those with five petals but I cannot find one in my batch of mangosteen.
So what is so interesting about them?
Take a look at the photograph below ....
Well, the number of petals seen in the style indicates the number of segments of the fruits inside.
While in Singapore, on the 11th of November, we went chasing after 165 elephants to be found all over Singapore ....indeed it was a Parade of Elephants. What!, you may asked. 165 elephants wandering around the big metropolis of Singapore?! No kidding!
Of course we were not kidding - we found a lot of them along Orchard Road and some in Marina Bay Sands though all in all, we managed to find only some 40 of them. Never saw the rest of them ...... all spread out at 19 locations in Singapore. We had only so much time! It was fun!
Here is the very first of them all.....
"165 fibreglass elephants, each designed and decorated by the biggest celebrities and international artists. This is the world's largest outdoor art exhibition in support of Asian elephants conservation, seen for the first time in Asia."
These elephants will be on display until 6 January 2012 and then on view for auction from 8th-11th January 2012. The auction will be on the 12th & 14th of January 2012.