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.
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.
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.
Braised abalone in oyster sauce
There was also this cold salad of prawns with honeydew, rockmelon and jellyfish; simple flavours and very refreshing.
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.
Yam nest with stir-fry of sugar snap peas, carrots and mushrooms
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.
Deep-fried whole fish with sweet and sour sauce
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!
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!