Thursday, February 6, 2014

fooding through hong kong: chinese new year.

Happy Year of the Horse everybody! For me, the coming of Chinese New Year is really just another excuse to eat as much delicious food as possible. There's a few types of foods we Chinese prefer to eat during the festive season, some of which you'll see below. Ultimately, if the name of the food can be pun-ified into something which sounds prosperous or lucky, chances are it will be on the table.  Since I don't believe in the whole luck thing I just bask in the glory of all the yummy food and hope my metabolism holds up (it's slowly dying here...)

The top right dish (the black one) consists of  black moss, dried oysters, shiitake mushrooms and lettuce.  The black moss is also, apparently, called Buddha's Delight, but I know it as 'faat choy' (literally, hair vegetable).  The word 'faat' sounds like the Chinese word for lucky, so if you eat it you're supposed to get lucky.  I eat it because it tastes good and it looks like hair.  

Fish will always be served at a Chinese New Year dinner, because the word for fish 'yu' sounds like the word for abundance/plentiful 'yu'.  It's also supposed to be cooked whole, with the head and tail, as as symbol of prosperity.

Prawns are also sometimes served because the Chinese word for prawn, 'ha', sounds like HA HA laughing.  This only works in Cantonese though.  Doesn't really work in Mandarin.

The brown, holey things on the bottom are lotus roots.  You can eat those boiled, steamed, fried, deep-fried etc.  The holes are supposed to represent the opening of your mind to new ideas.  

Top left: vegetarian dish with black cloud ears and enoki mushrooms, roast pork and radish, fried egg with prawns
Bottom left: lap cheong (chinese sausage) and cured duck, soya sauce chicken

Most CNY dinners will have a chicken dish.  It's also supposed to be presented as a whole chicken, with the head, because it symbolises completeness and rebirth.  Mmm yum yum.

Breakfast time! 'Jong' or 'Zong zi' is normally eaten during Midautumn Festival, but some people eat it during Chinese New Year too.  They're also called 'rice dumplings' because they are literally dumplings made of sticky rice.  Inside will be all sorts of savoury treats - pork belly, lap cheong (Chinese sausage), mushrooms, chicken, salted duck egg etc.  

The bottom dish with the orange stuff is nian gao (leen gow).  It's considered lucky to eat it during the new year because it sounds like the words for 'grow' or 'rise'.

Various kinds of melon seeds are also eaten during the new year and are supposed to symbolise fertility and giving birth.  So uh...none for me, thankyou.

On the fourth day of the new year, we had a Hong Kong style family barbeque.  It's not a traditional new year thing, but it's a great family bonding experience.  HK barbeque is more a DIY style, and everyone gathers around the one barbeque to cook the food they want on long forks and skewers.  

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