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Chinese New Year Food

With the Chinese New Year around the corner, I would like to introduce some Chinese food traditions from my view point. Different regions might have different practices.

From where I came from, i.e. South East Asia, the Chinese New Year celebration starts on Chinese New Year eve. The family will gather for a family union dinner. The dinner will be one of the more lavish one with whole fish, chicken, dried oyster, black moss (fatt choy), mushroom, etc. The name of the dishes are usually of good fortune, happiness, etc. Some of the name of the dishes are Good Deed will Prosper (Yau Yue Tim Hoe Si), Prosperity in Abundance (Foo Kwai Weng Wah), Happiness All Over (Hee Ha Tai Siew), etc.

In my family, we like to have hotpot on Chinese New Year eve. There is less preparation and everyone will gather around the hotpot to enjoy a meal. It’s all about reunion and sitting down for a meal together in today’s busy world where such occasion is rare.

For the Northern Chinese people, making and eating dumpling on Chinese New Year eve is a way of getting everyone in the kitchen to work and share.  The shape of the dumpling resembles the gold ingot used in the old days in China. It signifies prosperity.

Mushroom Dumpling
Green Cabbage and Egg Dumpling
Garlic Chives Dumpling
Pan Fried Napa Cabbage (Suey Choy) Dumpling
Boiled Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

Above are some of the dumpling recipes that were shared on chowtimes.com.

On the first day of Chinese New Year, my late mum usually cooked a big pot of Vegetarian Dish (Loh Hon Zhai).  Most Buddhists will abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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The 3rd Day of Chinese New Year: Roast Pork, Yee Sang and Keeping Friends Honest

For the past many years, we had been doing the same thing.

Our closest family friends had always made it a point to all meet up at least three times every year. In summer, we always have a big picnic. On Christmas, we meet up too. But the most important gathering is during Chinese New Year. To many of our family friends, this yearly reunion is how we keep the Chinese New Year traditions alive.

And every year, Suanne and I go through the same motions. We would always go to the same place to buy roast pork and that would be one of our contributions for the gathering. Of course, Suanne is also expected to cook something. This time she decided to make some Garlic Chives Jiaozi which is CNY delicacy.

We always get the Siu Yook (Roast Pork) from the Parker Place BBQ Shop. We were kind of worried that the line would be long. There was once on CNY eve, we queued for 45 minutes to buy the roast pork here.

Many people buys a lot for the festival.

There is this guy just ahead of us who pretty much bought … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Chinese New Year Eve Family Dinner: Bo-branded Laksa Hot Pot

One of the customs of the Chinese New Year is the Family Reunion Dinner. This is usually held on the eve of Chinese New Year where every member of the extended family will gather at the patriarch home for a feast.

When I was still living in Malaysia, the Family Reunion dinner is always something we all look forward to. We would be planning it for days and my mum will sometimes take two days to prepare for the feast. And there would be so many people that we would have makeshift tables and chairs setup all over the house. Everyone would be decked in new clothes to usher in the new year.

After a very boisterous dinner, we would then go outdoor to set up fireworks and fire crackers. Yeah, fireworks is illegal but we all did not care … just as long as we don’t do it in front of the house because the police will come around looking for tell-tale signs of fireworks. Yeah, this is what Suanne and I missed every year. This is very much like the feeling of having to spend Christmas alone having instant noodle watching the burning log on TV.

Well, this is something we miss having every Chinese New Year because every single one of our extended families are not in Vancouver. Chinese New Year in Vancouver is also a very muted affair. There is no atmosphere and the build up of excitement.

Frankly, our two boys don’t really care for Chinese New Year. We understand that. However, Suanne and I do try to have our own Family dinner. It is not much of a “reunion” dinner. It’s just the four of us. Kind of sad. :-(

I guess we will have to wait till the boys grow up, get married and have children before I can have a real Family Reunion dinner.

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We decided to make hot pot at home. Suanne was glad when I suggested that because it means that she does not have to think about what to cook. Anyway, I recently saw that the hot pot meat in the market in Crystal Mall was much cheaper than those we had during the last hot pot at home.

Some of you may remember I blogged about it and found out that it costs about $12.00 a person making at home. I thought it was still expensive and wanted to find out how JoyLuckClub managed to do it for less than $7.00.

The most expensive component of the hot pot was the meat. The last time I bought the sliced Lamb Shoulder and Beef Blade Chuck from T&T, it was $16.00 a pound. The meat that I bought this time from Crystal Mall is way much cheaper. They costs as follows: More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Comparing Cost of Hot Pot in Chez Suanne with AYCE Hot Pot Restaurant

Chinese food is generally cheap. We can often get a good full meal for just $15 and that will be better than average. But there is one type of Chinese food that is uncharacteristically expensive.

It was just last week that I blogged about a hot pot restaurant and I suddenly realized how expensive it had been eating out at hot pot restaurants. So I did a bit of math out of curiosity. I wanted to see how much it really is for one person.

This is how much we spent averaged out per person (before tips):

So I was wondering how much it would cost to make it at home … like, much cheaper compared to eating out.

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So that was our weekend project to get to the bottom of this question.

We did not want to go scouring around town for the best and cheapest ingredients. We took the easy way out. We went to T&T and try to get everything we need in one place.

We realize that some stuff in T&T are more expensive and that we don’t normally get some of the stuff we need here.

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Hehehe … I did not bring my big camera into the store. Instead I brought a point and shoot so that I could steal a few shots of the inside. If I get caught taking pictures in the store, I would probably get thrown out.

We got a few of everything. We got … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Green Cabbage and Egg Dumplings

Li demonstrated how to make Green Cabbage and Egg Dumplings in the South Arm Community Kitchen. Making dumpling is common during the Chinese New Year eve. The whole family will gather together to make dumplings.

Many hands made this job so much more fun. Some will make the wrappers while others make the dumplings.

This Green Cabbage and Egg Dumplings has a crunchy filing as it just need to be boiled until the dough is cooked as the filling does not contain meat. It is almost a vegetarian dumpling if you substitute the egg with tofu, mushroom, etc.

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 kilogram (2 pounds) green cabbage
  • 100 g (3 to 4) green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 inches ginger, minced
  • salt to taste
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil for dipping sauce

For the wrapper

  • 1200ml all-purpose flour
  • 540ml water

Source: Li

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Boiled Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

The main Chinese New Year dish made in the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors is Boiled Pork and Cabbage Dumplings. Dumpling or jiaozi is a traditional dish eaten during Chinese New Year’s Eve and some other festivals. Family members gather together to make dumplings as wrapping dumplings is quite time consuming. Such activity also brings the family closer.

Dumplings can be boiled or pan fried. Boiling is a healthier choice of cooking.

Dumplings can be freeze on the baking sheet. Once they’re completely frozen, place them in a ziplock bag for future consumption.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces napa cabbage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup minced Chinese chives or green onions
  • 2/3 pound ground pork
  • 1/8 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 package refrigerated round dumpling wrapper (50 pieces)

Source: adapted from Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen

Prep time: 40 minutes;  Cook time: 20 minutes;  Yield 50 dumplings

Chris O’Brennan, Helena, Sdyney, Frances and Chris made these dumplings.

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Taro Cake

Back to the South Arm Community Kitchen, Peggy demonstrated to us how to make Taro Cake. Taro Cake is a common dim sum item. It can be eaten fresh from the steamer or lightly pan fry to give it a crispy outer layer. The Taro Cake can be eaten as a snack or even as a meal.

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Peggy made two loaves of Taro Cake in the kitchen. She also brought one which she made earlier as the cake needs to be cooled down before you can slice it up into pieces for frying. The Taro Cake is so good that the group finish all the three loaves of Taro Cake.

Peggy’s Taro Cake is filled with pork and mushroom. However, you can substitute the filings with dried shrimp and Chinese sausage which are more commonly found in Dim Sum places.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups grated Taro
  • 1/2 cup ground pork
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced dried mushroom
  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • soy sauce paste as dipping sauce

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Steamed Fatt Ko

This post is for Carol. She asked for a recipe of steamed cake. I’m not sure if this is exactly what’s in her mind but nevertheless, as Chinese New Year is approaching, steaming some Fatt Ko seems to fit the festivities. Fatt Ko in Cantonese sounds like rise and high which is what Chinese wishes one another during Chinese New Year.

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The Fatt Ko did not rise as much as it should be because I ran short of the double-acting baking powder. Anyway, I love the taste and texture of these Fatt Ko.

Ingredients

Starter:

  • 200g Hong Kong flour (I used all-purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 150ml water

Dough:

  • 250g Hong Kong flour
  • 20g double-acting baking powder (I used only 12g as that all I have in my pantry)
  • 160ml water
  • 200g brown sugar or gula melaka (I used brown sugar)

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If done properly, the Fatt Go should rise very high and the top will split. The Fatt Go is a little chewy and denser than it should be. It also has a yeasty flavour to it as Nanzaro said it’s like eating Man Tau (in his words, eating Char Siu Pau without the char siu).

Click on Read More for the instructions.

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