>Gong Xi Fatt Chai 2011 Year of the Rabbit
Gong Xi Fatt Chai! One thing I love about Chinese New Year (CNY) is that it’s celebrated for 3 weeks and 1 day! It’s a great excuse to enjoy food, family and festivities. I’ve been planning for CNY 1 month beforehand to make sure that I get my recipes, my traditional dishes and cookies down to the dot. I love discussing CNY with my mom because I want to keep the tradition going eventhough I’m so far away.
This was my list for CNY eve dinner which is where we celebrate a big meal together as a family. The meal is very extravagant because it is tradition to have left overs for the next few days so that you don’t have to cook and enjoy the new year. Also this is a tradition to ensure that you have food brought over from the past year into the new year, so you won’t go hungry. That is why we make sure we cook every meat, fish, veg as well as noodles for longevity and good life (I think)!
Chinese New Year Baking
First up is the baking section! I had a day off the gym on Monday so I decided to get my baking out of the way to prepare for dinner on Wednesday night. On the list were:
Red Bean Puffs
Sago RedBean Coconut Balls
I started preparing the red bean first, boiled 2 cups of red beans, 1 cup of caster sugar then in the processor to blend the red bean till smooth. Then just set aside to cool for the red bean puffs and sago balls. Next up was the dessicated coconut with melted brown sugar, mixed together and set aside.
First up were the base cookie which was the Sugee cookies that I used. I made 4 batches of the Sugee Cookie mixture (per portion) which consists of:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cornflour
1 cup icing sugar
These little lovelies were moulded into balls, then baked for 20min which could double up as Shortbread Cookies really. With the 2nd batch for the almond cookies, I added in:
1 cup of ground almonds
2 tbsp almond essence
1 cup of canola oil
1 egg (for eggwash at the top)
So all you need to do was to mix it all in, combine well and mould into a ball. Lightly wash the top of each cookie with the egg mix and into the oven it goes for 20min.
Next up is the red bean puff. So, use the 3rd portion of the sugee cookie mixture, roll it out flat, cut with a round cookie cutter and mould. You could do alot of different types of shapes and sizes, its up to you. Very simple.
And finally, with the 4th portion, I made the peanut cookies. To the sugee cookie mixture, I added in 250g of peanut butter, 2 cups of grounded peanuts or if you like it peanut-ier, you can add more. A pinch of salt and egg wash on top with a whole peanut for decoration. Into the oven for another 20min till golden brown! Easy as that.
Next up were the sago red bean coconut balls which were quite tricky. I had a few hits and misses as I went about trying to shape it but finally came around to a technique. With all the ingredients prepared and made infront of me, putting them together was easy.
Firstly, cook the sago with water until translucent which means it’s cooked. Place the caramelised coconut and red bean paste together and some more dessicated coconut for coating.
- Use a teaspoon to scoop the sago paste, flatten it and coat with dessicated coconut for easy handling. The sago paste is very sticky.
- Place some caramelised coconut and red bean paste in the middle.
- Stretch out the sago gently and pinch the sides together to form a ball shape.
This is how it looked like when cut in half. Just be aware to eat it asap otherwise the sago will go hard. If it does, all you need to do is to steam the balls again for 10min or so and then eat. It’s nice warm or cold. Either way, it’s going fast! 🙂
The entire baking session took me 10hrs from start to finish! I was in the kitchen from 11am – 9pm slaving over these goodies. I do enjoy it but I think I was abit over ambitious with them. In my head, it was easier and faster than it actually was! I’ve learnt for next year!!! I managed dinner in between there somewhere, not having time to cook, my husband had to get takeaway SUMO Bento for dinner. I enjoyed UMI Sashimi (salmon, tuna and snapper sashimi) and my husband had Chicken Kari Katsu. It was lovely!
Chinese New Year Eve Dinner
Well, as you saw my menu at the top, I had alot on my plate for Wednesday. First up were the Tea Eggs. Mom mentioned them on our daily chats and inspired me to try making them. It was my first try and I was looking forward to the challenge and especially the result having seen so many beautiful pictures online.
So, I hard boiled 2 eggs first, took them out and made cracks on the shell. This will make the lovely lines that you see on the traditional tea eggs. In the same water which boiled the eggs, I placed in 2 black tea bags, 5 star anise, 2 small sticks of cinnamon and 1/2 cup soy sauce. Bring the water back to boiling point and place the cracked eggs back into the liquid. Make sure the eggs are fully submerged in the water otherwise top it up. They were boiled for 2hours and then left to soak for another 3hours.
Next up was the wonton preparation. I found some lovely wonton skin in Lulu’s, a nice big pack for aed19. I only used half the pack, the other half will be wontons for another day! We just love wontons, don’t know why I don’t make them more often! Ah right, it’s the work involved… that’s why! 😉
So mix together
500g mince pork
3 medium carrots, diced
1 can chestnuts, diced
fresh coriander and spring onions, chopped
Mix well and then place into the wonton skins, fold together by wetting the edges with water (or egg) and pressing the skin together to stick. I also wrapped the lovely fresh super large prawns we got from Lulu’s with wonton skin.
Overall, the chopping, cooking, frying, wrapping and stirfrying took me from 9am to 7pm when we finally sat down and ate. I started preparing the meal by about 6.30pm, putting things together and placing them on the dining table for the start of our chow down session!
First up were the tea eggs. I was really looking forward to cracking open these little puppies, with fingers and toes crossed, hoping that the webbed stain would form on the eggs much like the lovely pictures online and sure enough it did! I was so happy with the outcome, but mostly the stain on the shell itself! Haha, it was darker than the egg but oh well, nevermind. They looked so beautiful and they tasted great too. They were abit lighter, not too salty as I didn’t add in salt to the liquid, thinking that the soy sauce would be good enough. But do add some more salt into the liquid or some strong soy sauce for added taste!
TA-DA! The meal! We have deep fried king prawns, steamed wontons, stewed pork with black mushrooms and roasted sweet potatoes, topped with fresh coriander and spring onions, mixed vegetables consisted of fried tofu, baby corn, button and black mushrooms, torn white cabbage, onions and fresh chopped coriander and spring onions and the tea eggs.
And the meal would not be complete without a bowl of Thai bird’s eye chilli in soy sauce. I don’t know if you noticed but I didn’t have time to do the salmon or the noodles. Again, I was abit over ambitious, not having enough time and not wanting to stress myself I decided not to cook them but do a noodle and fish dish one of these days, like I said, CNY is celebrated over 3 weeks. Speaking of which, there’s a special meal for the 7th day and the last day of CNY I think. Have to ask mom about it! I do realise that I didn’t make the traditional Yee Sang for the 1st day but I don’t dare prepare raw fish myself. Should have gotten some from SUMO bento huh? Nevermind… we are still enjoying the food till today. I say I prepare far too much for just the 2 of us, but CNY always brings back memories from my mom and grandma and here I am wanting to make sure that I cook everything they cooked for me back then and also wanting to try abit of everything! What a great meal! What shall I do for the rest of the festivities?!