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 … each type of their main product. Which is good because I could show some of you who had never seen how the shops chops the meat. I thought it funny that the guy in front of us had to explain why he is buying so much (saying that it is for 3 days). ๐Ÿ™‚

Suanne always ordered the same favourite cut. It is always “Mm You Guat. Sau did” which mean “no bone and leaner”.

She was sharp this time. She saw that the BBQ man had some roast pork skins and asked that he gave it to us. LOL!

Chinese-New-Year-Gathering-2011-1Chinese-New-Year-Gathering-2011-6

Look at how much crispy pork skin we got this time!

Suanne asked for 2 lbs. They don’t always give you exactly and will charge you based on the actual weight. They usually will cut you a bit more than you ask for.

This time round it was something like $23.00 for the two pounds of roast pork. I wonder how much the whole suckling pig in the video above costs. If it is not too expensive, maybe next time I’ll get one suckling pig so that everyone has a bit to take home.

So with that 2 pound of roast pork and the jiaozi in the pot we are set for the gathering.

Chinese-New-Year-Gathering-2011-2Chinese-New-Year-Gathering-2011-4

Jess always made it a point to make something different every year. This year she made the above angku kueh. This is a Fujian name which means red turtle cake. I am not sure if this is widely available in other Chinese cultures but it is very popular CNY food in Malaysia and Singapore.

This is also a common gift to celebrate the full moon of a child. In Chinese culture, a child achieve one year old at one month old. Don’t ask me why but that is how it is.

The red wrapping is made with sweet potato and glutinous rice flour. The filling is made of bean paste (red bean, green bean or lotus paste). These are steamed.

Chinese-New-Year-Gathering-2011-5

The angku kueh is made with wooden molds like the ones above. The middle ones (the Doremon and the turtle mold) is used to make the Angku Kueh. The bigger one on the right is used to make moon cakes while the one on the left is used to make kuih bangkit.

Chinese-New-Year-Gathering-2011-8

Yeah, it is usually the ladies who take care of the cooking while the guys talk about making money over some beer. LOL!

Chinese-New-Year-Gathering-2011-3

Snacks like the ones above are common in every household. Some people chooses to buy them from the shops but some takes pride in making them from scratch. The Pineapple Tart was very popular with everyone but the folded “cookies” known as ย kuih kapit (also known as love letters) is always the best.

I have not come across anyone who doesn’t like the love letters, especially the children.

Chinese-New-Year-Gathering-2011-9Chinese-New-Year-Gathering-2011-10

Yee Sang is the highlight of the gathering. This is uniquely a Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese tradition. I don’t think any other Chinese cultures does this during CNY. The Chinese from Hong Kong, Taiwan or China will perhaps look at this practice as foreign to them.

The word Yee Sang is Cantonese to mean Live Fish. There are pieces of raw fish in the “salad”. We toss and stir them during CNY to symbolize stirring up prosperity for the new year.

This year, some our taikos came a bit late. So we decided to not wait for them and started our first “low hei” with the kids. They were hungry already and so we got started first.

When everyone finally turned up, we had another round of Low Sang — a more boisterous one!

Yeah, we are all talking about making money. So I call this the Low Sang, the Lotto Max edition. ๐Ÿ™‚

As always, we will go out to the convenience store around the corner to buy group lotteries. No luck all these years … maybe will be luckier this time! LOL!

Friend or no friend, this is serious matter. I have to take the video that all of us contributed $2 to the lottery. Now you all are witness for me just in case we strike the grand prize this time!

We all had a great time — lots of laughter, lot of food and lots of love.

Parker Place Meat & BBQ on Urbanspoon

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

  1. Anyone know what are the business hours of parker meat? What are their prices for roast pork? are they open everyday?

  2. Aiyo, Bro Ben! As usual I am the late comer. Caught this story on low hei and now is 2012 with another 7 days to the year of dragon! You all really had fun during CNY celebration in 2011 especially the 6149. I guess you and Suanne and the boys are going for another round of low sang for this coming CNY!

    I am still thinking whether I should have a private low hei @ home on the eve of the Lunar New Year…hmmm…

    Anyway, I wish you and everyone at home a Prosperous & Healthy Lunar New Year…Loong Mah Jing San & Po Po Go Seng in your Chowtimes!! Kakaka!!

    • Hey June: Seems like you had finally discovered our blog and been reading quite a number of posts already. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, we are going for another round of CNY gathering this year again. A few of our friends had moved away and so I think this year will be a bit quieter. Love your “Loong Mah Jing San and Po Po Go Seng” wish. Here is wishing you “Man See Yue Yee and Lin Lin Yau Yue!!” Ben

  3. Hey Ben. I did the Yee Sang/Low Sang thing a couple of years back and had the turtle cakes. I ordered from the lady you recommended. I hope to do more of this in the future cuz I love this tradition. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hi Ben,

    Though the talk has been centred around the bbq meats @ PP and BM, my favourite is Landmark BBQ Meat @ Continental Square. My Korean mother-in-law is a huge fan of the lean “flattened” duck (peen pei up).Gong Hay Fatt Choy!

  5. Hi Ben,

    Have you ever tried the Roast pork’ feet? Friends of mine came from Nannaimo last time, and we had lunch at Hon’s in China town. Then we saw the the feet under the BBQ pork, we asked if we buy the feet will they cutup to smaller pieces? They said OK, so we bought it and took it over the ferry to their home in Nannaimo. We cook it like hot and sour soup with fresh chillies, lemon grass, green onions etc. It was delicious, even his son that was born in here likes it and there was no left over.

    • Hi James:

      Yes, we often buy the pork feet. Suanne used it to make the Assam Gai Choy ( see this post: http://goo.gl/0YV5G ). She makes a lot of it at one time and we have this over several days. It gets better after a day! Take a lot at our post … how similar or different it is from the way you had it? I just can’t picture the version you are talking about.

      We used to buy the pork feet from the old Hon’s on Empire Center because they are bigger and meatier. Too bad it closed. The ones we buy these days are from Parker Place but it is disappointingly much smaller.

      Ben

  6. I aiways order from this lady in Burnaby who used to sell ang koo kuih in Penang. She makes really nice ones. If you’re interested, I can give you her tel. #.

  7. Vincent looks very familiar. If he’s the guy from Smart N Save (owner?), I spoke to him just this past weekend on the Brahim’s rendang spice. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also think I’ve spoken to him a couple of times too in the past.

    Ben, inspired from your siew yoke shopping, I went to Parker Place this morning. Ok don’t laugh but I sort of got lost trying to find the bbq store. I haven’t been to PP for so many years and I didn’t know where to start. I have been buying from BBQ Master but the quality is not consistent. The last time I bought the siew yoke was so salty. Anyway, I just bought 1 bone and a small slice of char siew. The char siew is a tad sweet from the sauce but the siew yoke, damn! So, so good. Not even salty. The crispy skin… oh just pure artery-clogging good. Now I wished I had bought more.

    • Hi Lissa: Yup, that’s the right Vincent in the video but he is no longer with Smart N Save. Kekeke … how could anyone get lost in Parker Place? So you bought the siu yook with bones (i.e. from the rib section), huh? Next time you go, ask for the sections without the bones and see if you like that better. Yeah, I hate the inside part of the siu yook where it is sometimes too salty but Parker Place is consistent in that they will cut the salty part away (as you can see from the 2nd video). Oh, one more thing … spy and see if you can see if you see some crispy skin lying by the side on his chopper board. Ask the meat guy to give that to you — he doesn’t say no. Ben

      • Hi Ben, Kung Hay Fat Choy to you and your family!

        My wife turned me onto the pork sections WITH bones as the bone imparts more flavor into the meat. It’s akin to roasting prime rib with the bones vs. boneless. We always buy at least 2-3 rib sections before we head back to Seattle. By the time we arrive home, one rib is gone!

        I’ve tried both with and without rib and I have to say that IMO, WITH bones is more flavorful. Thank you for sharing your video of shopping at Parker Place. Even though I am 3 hours away, I felt like I was in line behind Suanne. I haven’t tried BBQ Master, but I can’t imagine them being better than Parker for roast pork.

      • Hi Erick: I am going to write about the roast pork from BBQ Master. It is different from Parker Place’s and the fact that there is also a line there all the time, says a lot of it. Ben

  8. Hi Ben,

    The videos are great. Did you speed up the cook meat shop sequence? If it is real time, then it is a very impressive guy doing the chopping!

    • Hi Oliver: No, I did not speed up any of the videos. It’s scary how fast he chops up the meat. At the speed he is cutting it, I won’t be surprised if it will take him a full 10 seconds before he realizes one of his fingers is in the styrofoam carrier boxes. I wonder if he has insurance. LOL! Ben

  9. The Parker Place vs HK BBQ Masters roast pork debate continues :-). I spent 20 mins in line at the latter last week to get some porky goodness along with all the other CNY celebraters.It was fun talking to the other people in line about what they were going to buy and eat to ring in the Year of the Rabbit.

    • Hehehe … I tried, grayelf. Trust me I really tried my best to love HK BBQ Master’s roast pork but Parker Place was my first love. ๐Ÿ™‚ Wow, I am impressed with you. You waited 20 minutes in line for roast pork and you are not even Chinese! *respect* I had never seen non-Asian lining up at Parker Place before so you must have been quite a novelty with everyone, huh? ๐Ÿ™‚ Ben

      • Really ? I’ve seen non-Asians at PP. And at other Asian malls too. Yes, not too many, but definitely there. Heck, I often feel like a novelty walking into a “Chinese” resto despite being Chinese myself …… somehow I don’t exude it [confused] and come across as a “banana boy”. I get a kick when I keep it in English for awhile and after a long while, I suddenly break out in Cantonese or Mandarin, you should see the looks on the servers’ faces, LOL

        Maybe Ben if you just “look” for them, you’ll see many non-Asians at traditionally-Asian places [grin]

      • Hi LotusRapper: I am referring to non-Asians lining up for the Roast Pork place, not in the mall. Seeing non-Asians lining up for dim sum in Shun Feng or at the food court is nothing unusual but for this BBQ shop it is. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ben

      • Ah, I read your post too fast !

        Kudos to GE for her perseverance. So GE, what did you end up buying and how did you serve them ?

    • Hi Adelaide: Hehehe … so the video I made wasn’t too bad huh? It was my first attempt and I was thinking how unprofessional it is compared to the big guns on youtube. I am still toying with the idea of creating a once a month youtube and want to see how receptive people are to it. All my family friends on the video told me that they laughed till they cry (!) particularly the last video. I thought it would just be them who finds it funny as there are so much Manglish and Singlish on it. Thanks for the feedback. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ben

  10. V. Nice Ben! Where I live there are no places to buy roast pork so I make them myself. I’ve figured how to do it with super crispy skin so my family always ask me to make it for meals!

    • Hi Carina: Oh that’s sad not having a roast pork shop nearby where you stay! Oh yeah, some of our friends make roast pork at home. I think Suanne made it once too (is that correct, honey?). I can’t remember if Suanne made it before or not but I think it did not measure up or else I would have remembered and asked her to make it again. Ben

  11. Oh I really love the videos, it was so much fun watching it and learning about your traditions! Also, I don’t think i ever appreciated how skilled those butchers are cutting the meat until watching your video. Interseting enough, I think that butcher you taped also works at #9 restauarnt. I hope you do more videos in the future!
    Thank you for sharing your friends and family with your readers! You really captured the happiness of CNY!

    • Hi agingteen: That is interesting to know that the butcher also work in the #9 restaurant. Hehehe … it was a lot of work doing the video maybe because I was learning at the same time too (with help from Arkensen and Nanzaro!). I’ll perhaps do a video once a month but my mind is blank at the moment what kind of stories to do. I just don’t want to do ho-hum video of cooking and of going to restaurants. Anyway, I had setup the official youtube channel for chowtimes. You can get the link from the icon at the top of this page. I am going to migrate all our videos from Vimeo to this channel. Ben

  12. Hahaha, in the first video Suanne looked like she was thinking: “Who is this creep stalking me with a video camera ?!?”, LOL

    Roast pig & BBQ pork….. I always ask for “fay deed !” (fatter) [grin]

      • I’ve always thought the red turtle cake is Taiwanese ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, I guess that was the association that I got when I was a kid in Taiwan.

        There are a couple places that I remember seeing them for sale. I know Tachia Bakery at 4103 MACDONALD ST, VANCOUVER has it. Chinese name is ๅคงๅฎถ. They also have the green version which is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caozai_Guo

        The Chinese bakery at Continental Square may have it but they seem to have less and less Taiwanese style food.

      • Hi Andy (and Kevin): So the red turtle cake is not unique to South East Asian Chinese and it’s also widely available in Taiwan huh? Can someone who is from China or Hong Kong let me know if the red turtle cake is also commonly found there too? Ben

  13. Hey Ben…
    loving the yee sang tradition. your videos are great too! Hope you got something on the 649 ticket, we sure didn’t ๐Ÿ™‚

    BTW, the last time I purchased a whole roast pig from Parker Place it was about $160. We fed about 30 people with lots left over.

    • Hi joyluckclub: Did you cut up the whole roast pig yourself? For $160 it is certainly much cheaper ordering it whole. Do you know how much the suckling pig costs? Ben

      • Well…I wish I could say yes, however it was my daddy ๐Ÿ™‚
        He does an amazing job, not sure where he learned, but he gets this honor whenever there is a whole pig..I guess I should learn

        I recall the suckling pig was around $100. They are quite good too. I needed to have a bit more meat this time. Can’t recall, but it must be 2 or 3 years since I’ve had the suckling pig….now I’m salivating for suckling pig and it’s 7:00 AM hehehe

      • Hi Joyluckclub: Actually it is a men thing to chop the whole pig. Pass the cleaver to BR and get him to learn from your dad. LOL! Ben

      • haha..BR would be quite fearful of a cleaver. Perhaps he might be a bit more comfortable with the method they use in China. Check out the video in my post today. It might be best for BR to start with this ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Hi Joyluckclub: Scissors? LOL! Your (or rather your mum’s) roast pork looked delicious. I can’t wait to see you roast the entire pig. LOL! Ben

      • *gasp* OMG … that is awesome! Wished we could have made it yesterday. What was that you said … “you snooze you looze” ๐Ÿ™‚ Ben

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