Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Mouth-watering CNY dishes in my household!

Today is the 7th day of Chinese New Year. The 7th day is called 人日 - Human Day. It is considered everyone's birthday! 祝大家生日快乐!!!

In this post, I showcase some of the mouth-watering dishes we usually prepare during the CNY. The feasting begins!

Yu Sheng
Most people celebrate 人日 by having Yu Sheng to Lou Hei ! Yusheng is deemed auspicious because of its homonymic quality - yu means "fish" but enunciated appropriately, it also means "abundance", while sheng literally means "raw" but enunciated appropriately, it means "life". Thus Yusheng implies "abundance of wealth and long life". In Cantonese, it is known as lo sheng with lo also meaning "tossing up good fortune". The tossing action is called lo hei, which means to "rise" (hei), again a reference to a thriving business and thus its popularity with businessmen during the New Year.

Steamboat with 20+ items
We had steamboat for Reunion Dinner this year.  I prepared more than 20 types of items for our steamboat this year. The longer you let the steamboat boil and cook with different items, the longer and sweeter the soup it becomes. That's the special thing about having  steamboat.

Steamed New Year Fish
These are "new year fish" which my aunt bought for us early in the morning of Li Chun. What is so special about this fish is that it is only available during the CNY period because it is the only time they do NOT taste fishy.  It is best eaten when simply steamed with ginger strips. People love the "baw" or the "egg" you can find inside and it is best eaten dipped with chinchalok chilli. 

Braised Hoo Kee (Fried Beancurd Sticks)
This is one vegetarian dish my mom usually cook on the first day of CNY, for those who were on vegetarian diet. It is one of my favourite dish.  It is  a dish of fried beancurd sticks which was braised in soya sauce with chinese mushroom.  Goes very well with white rice or porridge.

Braised Lou Soon (Bamboo Shoots)
I love love love this dish alot, and I get to eat this only during the CNY! It is Braised Bamboo Shoots with chinese mushroom, another vegetarian dish. You have to braise the bamboo shoots for a long time and it will soften and taste a little crunchy.  It is even nicer when dipped with chilli lime sauce. These bamboo shoots are of better quality compared to our local version.

Nonya Ngoh Hiang (Meat Rolls)
Ngoh Hiang is the Singaporean version of five-spice pork rolls wrapped with beancurd skin. My mom usually make these every year. I love it because it is much better than the ones you get outside, as my mom is generous with ingredients. The ingredients used were  minced pork, fish meat, shelled prawns, carrots, water chestnuts, chives, onions, eggs, flour, pepper, salt, sesame oil and ngo hiang special spice. The most tedious was probably peeling those water chestnuts and carrots and chopping them into teeny weeny pieces... I feel water chestnuts are very important as it makes the meat rolls more crunchy.

Here are some shots of how our Ngoh Hiang was made. The wrapped rolls were first steamed and then let to cool before keeping them in the freezer. We then fry the rolls as and when we want to eat and garnish them with cucumber or zucchini, plus our homemade spicy sour chilli sauce, it is heaven.

Leek with Pork Belly
This is another traditional CNY dish, although we can prepare this any time of the year - Leek with Pork Belly.  Leek in dialect and mandarin sounds like "sng" and "suan" respectively, which in turn sounds like "count". Hence it symbolises having plenty of money to count in the new year.

Roast Duck
In my family, we like Roast Duck compared to chicken. So on special occasions, we like to purchase nice Roast Duck as one of the dishes. This one is from Toh Kee, in People's Park, Chinatown. Not many places make good crispy roast duck as Toh Kee.

Fish Maw Soup
My aunt cooked this soup with lots of ingredients - fish maw, pork intestines, pork, fish balls, cabbage, pork ribs, tofu, sea cucumber, scallops etc... I think people are more willing to splurge on and be generous with the ingredients especially during CNY because it meant "abundance". The soup was delicious.

"Bitter Veggies" with Pork Belly
This dish is a very nice dish. I named these veggies "Bitter Veggies" because they taste slightly bitter than other veggies. However if you braised them long enough, the dish is very nice and wholesome with the permeated taste of both veggies and pork belly and carrots. You can add chinese mushrooms too.

XO Sesame Liver with Chinese Leek
This one is one of my favourite dish too - XO Sesame Liver with leek.  I love to use a little XO Cognac when I cook pork/liver and chicken. Cooked with sesame oil, soya sauce and a touch of XO Cognac, this dish tastes heavenly!   

Veggies with Prawns
During CNY, we usually have lots of prawns, big and small prawns. If we have tiger prawns, we usually steam them with lots garlic. If we have small prawns, we stir fry them with any veggies, hence a very crunchy and refreshing dish. 

It is again about abundance, especially food. During the CNY, we ensure we have different types of dishes of meat, fish, veggies, prawns, fish maw and all auspicious dishes which symbolise good luck and prosperity. 

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