Sunday, January 22, 2012

恭喜发财 Gong Xi Fa Cai

恭 喜 发 财   新 年 进 步

心 想 事 成  万 事 如 意  

Crystal Kek Lapis for Chinese New year

We received a lot of cakes every year and each year, the ones from one of our Malay friends, Rashid, are exceptional, His Prune kek lapis, Haw Flakes kek Lapis and Oreo kek lapis are excellent. This year we receive one with a new pattern ..... Crystal Kek Lapis.

Is it not beautiful? Yummy, too!

Preparing Food Ingredients for Lunar New Year

During the run-up to the Lunar New Year, there is a lot of food preparation going on - ingredients that requite a lot of time to prepare - weeks, in fact. This year I started on two main ingredients about a week ago ....

On the 2nd of January, I started preparing a special kind of dried bamboo shoot called  "ming dried bamboo shoot" (明笋干).

On the 8th of January, I started preparing the  sea-cucumber (海参).

Once done, I will put up the entire processes of preparing these two amazing food ingredients.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ancestor Worship during Chinese New Year

For many Chinese families, the New year is not just for a celebrations of family reunions but also the occasion to pay respects to one's ancestors (拜祖先). Our family is no different. While busy with preparations for the New Year, we are also busy getting the various things required for the ancestral worship to be conducted on New Year's Eve (除夕) and on the Second Day of the New Year (年初二).

Besides the offerings of food which includes three types of meat (三生), tea, wine, sticky rice cake (年糕)and mandarin oranges (柑橘), there are also two types of paper offerings. Preparing them is like doing origami :-) 

One of the paper offering is for the Spirits of the Earth (土地神)

while the other type is  for the ancestors.....

There are only six pieces of the paper offerings for the Spirits of the Earth. Here is how I folded them ....


For the ancestors, one has to prepare a lot more but they are rather simple to make. We normally prepare about two large bags and here is how we folded the paper into gold and silver ingots....


We are all ready for the ancestral worship tomorrow (New Year's Eve).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gifts of Chinese Food for Lunar New Year

On Tuesday, we received a gift of fried noodles, curry chicken and stewed pig trotters from my nephew, Foh, the second son of my third brother. His wife is a very good cook. Mum,  TK and I had a delicious lunch. 

We are all putting on weight :-)

On Thursday, another much anticipated gift of dinner arrived :-). This is from one of my nephews, Fah, the third son of my eldest sister. My nephew and his wife cooked the meal. They are both good chefs and they run a very  successful business that specialise in making fresh noodles,

From the family that makes noodles for a living, their fried noodles for family festivals is one of the best dishes during family celebrations! Traditionally, for Chinese New Year, the noodles are made using duck eggs ( 鸭面 ) but this year due to the scarcity of duck eggs (for some reason), they use chicken eggs. Normal noodles ( 面 )are made with eggs and water but for egg noodles (面 ), no water is use - just eggs and wheat flour!

This dish is stewed belly pork and meicai ( 梅菜 ) with dried squids, dried scallops, cashew nuts and mushroom. Lovely dish!

I love this dish of chicken wings in a sweet sauce. The chicken wing is cut into three segments and the skin/meat folded up into a ball at one end of the bone. We called it "Chicken Boxing" ( 拳头鸡 ).

Next is my mum's favourite dish, bean curd roll ( 豆腐卷 ). This is a mix of minced pork, scallops, mushroom, water chestnut, etc rolled in bean curd skin and then deep-fried. This dish is best if the pork is minced by hand and not an electric mincer! In the old days, pig's liver is one of the main ingredient but today, the pig's liver is no longer used. I still prefer it with pig's liver!

Next dish is the Curry Chicken (咖喱鸡).

Finally, the yummy fish maw (鱼鳔) soup with Chinese radish (菜头), long cabbage, pacific clams(鲍贝) and mushroom. The chinese radish is stuffed with seasoned minced pork.

The whole family enjoyed the meal ... as usual, there was just too much food!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mushroom for Chinese New Year

A MUST item for the Chinese New Year menu is mushroom - whether dried, canned or fresh. 

This year a new type of fresh mushroom from China hits town. This particular mushroom was introduced many years back but always in canned form. This year, it is available fresh. I remember many many years ago in Petaling Jaya when TK and I ordered a dish of jialan (伽蓝菜, a type of green leafy vegetables)  and bailing mushroom (白灵菇). When the dish was served, we were shocked to see the kailan interlaced with slices and slices of abalone! We were shocked at the seemingly VERY expensive dish and asked the Captain. He told us that the white slices that looked likes sliced abalone were actually the bailing mushroom (白灵菇) . We sighed with relief :-)

Here is the Bailing Mushroom (白灵菇) .... larger than the size of my palm.

Sliced bailing mushroom ...

Steamed, stir-fried or in steamboat, it looks like sliced abalone and is really delicious. Yummy!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lunar New Year Waxed Duck

Every year as the Lunar new year approaches, we will receive or buy various traditional food items; one of which is the sweet waxed duck (甜腊鸭). 

Note the SWEET (甜) part. Our family does not eat much of the salted waxed duck (腊鸭). Another tradition that is probably unique to our family is that we do not eat the sweet waxed duck in any of our new year meals but during the pre and post new year periods as a "追饭" dish (rice-chaser dish).

How do we eat the sweet waxed duck? Well, here is how. 

Two main ingredients, the sweet waxed duck and the red leeks (红蒜)with one or two teaspoons of light soya sauce. 

Mince the duck and the leek into small pieces. The duck may be difficult to mince so I use a pair of sharp kitchen scissors to cut the meat into small pieces.


First, lightly fried the duck over a very low fire as the duck can char pretty fast! No need to add any oil as the duck was preserved in oil . Remove the meat and retain the oil in the pan. Use the oil to fry the red leek at low heat until soft and fragrant. Add the duck back to the leek and mix well. Add some light soya bean sauce. Stir well and transfer to the serving dish.

Well, that is our family's favourite "追饭" dish (rice-chaser dish). Yummy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gift of Indian Muslim Dinner for Lunar New Year

Ever since my late father started his business in India Street, Kuching, just after WWII, our Indian Muslim neighbours and friends would prepare full set of dishes for dinner and sent them over to us to enjoy as their Lunar New year gifts to our family.

This year is no exception and the first meal arrived last Sunday (8th of January) prepared by our Indian Muslim neighbour from across the street. They are dealers in textiles.

The dinner ......

Mouth-watering spicy  rice with lots of vegetables like chunks of potatoes, cauliflower, french beans, etc ....

Fragrant and tender dry curried lamb on the bone ... lots of serai makes this a lovely dish!

My favourite dish each and every year .... they know we all love this dish and always include this in the menu. Yup, brinjal in a spicy sauce with lots of whole garlic, cinnamon and pandan leaves! Really yummy!

Dessert is this sweet milk-based  sago, sultana and almond dish .....

All of us had a great dinner :-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Year of the Dragon Cookies Bag

As the Chinese Lunar Year of the Dragon approaches, our family tradition is to prepare scores of bags of goodies to 回礼 or give “Reciprocal Gifts". As each branches of our extended family and family friends arrive to present gifts of red packets or food to the Matriarch of the family, she will 回礼 and give them a bag of goodies ......

This year we decided not to make any cakes but to have  four types of cookies and two oranges in the goodies bags .....

Meanwhile, we try to cope with the deluge of food heading our way..... :-)