My family isn’t big on tradition and without any relatives in Australia, Chinese New Year celebrations usually consist of a home-made banquet with plenty of leftovers. This year, my Mum thoughtfully cooked up this modern Chinese dinner, some inspired by custom and others adapted by our changing taste.
We started with peking duck, a favourite amongst many. The pancake wrap pastry were homemade a few days in advance and steamed on the night. They were the result of one of my Mum’s midnight experiments which proved to be successful.

Chinese New Year 2009, Year of the Ox, home-cooking at Jennifer Lam's family dinner - peking duck
Peking duck

The soft shell crab was deep-fried in a thick batter and lightly tossed in salt and pepper. It was a little rich for my liking, but much loved by my siblings.

Chinese New Year 2009, Year of the Ox, home-cooking at Jennifer Lam's family dinner - deep fried soft shell crab with batter
Salt & pepper soft shell crab

A symbol of wealth, these huge abalones had been flavour-potting for days. It was slow cooked in a casserole full of ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and chicken stock. They were succulent and velvety.

Chinese New Year 2009, Year of the Ox, home-cooking at Jennifer Lam's family dinner - braised abalone in oyster and soy sauce
Braised abalone in oyster sauce

There was also this cold salad of prawns with honeydew, rockmelon and jellyfish; simple flavours and very refreshing.

Chinese New Year 2009, Year of the Ox, home-cooking at Jennifer Lam's family dinner - honeydew, rockmelon, jellyfish and prawn salad
Salad of honeydew, rockmelon, jellyfish and prawns

Helen has referred to this as the basket of prosperity. I simply know it as my beloved yam nest. Finely shredded yam was deep-fried into the shape of a bowl and topped with a tasty stir-fry of scallops, mushrooms, sugar snap peas and carrots. Watching the yam nest crack under the moisture of the stir-fry and fighting over the crisp pieces was all part of the fun.

Chinese New Year 2009, Year of the Ox, home-cooking at Jennifer Lam's family dinner - large scallops braised with beans, mushrooms and carrot on fried yam / taro nest basket
Yam nest with stir-fry of sugar snap peas, carrots and mushrooms

Chinese New Year 2009, Year of the Ox, home-cooking at Jennifer Lam's family dinner - crab claws
Crab claws

A whole fish is a must at any Chinese feast. I’m used to it steamed but this night, we were surprised with it deep-fried with a sweet and sour sauce. And of course we had a few huge lobsters braised in a fiery combination of ginger, chilli and shallots.

Chinese New Year 2009, Year of the Ox, home-cooking at Jennifer Lam's family dinner - sweet and sour fish
Deep-fried whole fish with sweet and sour sauce

Chinese New Year 2009, Year of the Ox, home-cooking at Jennifer Lam's family dinner - lobster with ginger and shallots
Lobster braised with ginger, chilli and shallots

This is one tradition we have maintained over the years. My grandmother made it best; the broth consisted of a whole chicken, shitake mushrooms, fish balls, pork belly and lots of Chinese cabbage. It’s so cleansing and flavoursome, I love it! I think this may be a Teochew classic. Enlighten me if otherwise!

Chinese New Year 2009, Year of the Ox, home-cooking at Jennifer Lam's family dinner - traditional chicken, Chinese cabbage and fish ball soup
Traditional Chinese cabbage soup with fish balls, shitake mushrooms, pork belly and chicken

While I’m sure we were already full at this stage, we continued into the night with extra large longans and lychees. Happy Chinese New Year!

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydney’s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.
  • Such a feast Jen! I especially love the prawn, melon and jellyfish combo – I’ve never heard of it before and it sounds delicious!

  • Hey Jen,
    Those pancakes look fantastic and so authentic! Any chance of getting a recipe off your mum?

  • wow this all looks so professional. kudos to your mum! i love the look of the grated yam basket too. can’t believe she handmade the peking pancakes too!

  • Oh wooww this is a great feast! This cannot seriously be left overs 😛 *drool drool*

  • ditto what Helen said – this is the stuff we head out to eat!

  • omigod yum! I was just thinking I was a little peckish then I saw the crab claws, and the Peking duck, and the fish and…it goes on..Can I come over next Chinese New Year?

  • Oh, yes yes yes yes! Peking Duck rules!! I once at it for like 12 nights straight while traveling across China. (My Chinese travel mates wanted to ditch me)
    And softshell crab, yes yes yes yes! So yummy! Why can’t we get it in Japan?
    Peko-P

  • Jen

    Christie, yes, it was a summery combination; very delish.
    SoRMuiJAi, i’ll see what i can do!
    Helen, thanks, i’ve got so much learning to do from her!
    FFichiban, no no, i didn’t mean this was leftovers! LOL! i meant we have lots of leftovers after banquets at home because of lack of numbers and over-cooking… hehe..
    Thanks shez!
    Reemski, hahaha, it was definitely a massive feast!
    Peko-P, I have yet to travel to China but Peking duck for 12 nights in a row sounds heavenly! LOL! Soft Shell Crab is usually shipped in from Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam… i’m sure it won’t be long before it’s available across Japan!

  • Jenny

    Omg! That looks good! Btw, would you be able to ask your mum how she makes the pancakes (for the duck)? 🙂