Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chinese New Year!

Yesterday was Chap Gor Meh, the end of the fifteen-day Chinese New Year period - a time for family, friends, and lots of food! Here's my roundup of CNY 2013!

This year was the first time since I've moved out of home that I've decorated the flat - I guess I'm really an adult now! We displayed the traditional fruits-in-red-ribbon, had cookies in plastic containers and hung the usual firecrackers and lucky pictures on the walls.
Chinese New Year Fruits!
You may remember those delightful peanut cookies I made in the lead-up to CNY - I managed to save some until reunion lunch on CNY Eve! So very good!
Peanut cookies, love letters, kuih bangkit

Reunion dinner (lunch, actually) was at my parents' house on Chinese New Year's eve, and was full of our delicious traditional Nyonya Penang food: curry chicken kapitan, siew yoke (crispy roast pork), loh bak (minced pork wrapped in beancurd skin and deep fried), and kiam chye th'ng (salted vegetable soup). ALL OF THE YUM!
Reunion lunch

I love how Chinese New Year has become more mainstream - have you noticed the CNY-themed Lipton Iced Tea ads, and the "Make Chinese New Year Golden" Ferrero Rocher ads on bus stops and billboards around town? And on that theme, here's a dragon dance that I saw in Melbourne Central shopping centre one day! Pretty cool!
Dragon dance

This meal wasn't strictly for Chinese New Year, but it happened during the period, and it was Chinese, so I'm saying it counts! I made a Gluten-Free Chinese Meal for a good friend of mine who loves Chinese food but is a coeliac. In a cruel twist of fate, she was diagnosed with coeliac disease just shortly after we introduced her to Hills BBQ and the other fab Chinese restaurants in Box Hill! Noooo!

Making gluten-free Chinese food is surprisingly hard - it ALL CONTAINS WHEAT! Soy sauces, hoisin, Chinkiang vinegar, Chinese rice wine. Argh! It took quite a bit of planning, but in the end I managed it, by choosing recipes that were naturally gluten free, (all Fuchsia Dunlop obviously), and using gluten free soy sauce and omitting the Shaoxing wine in the recipes that weren't.
Gluten-Free Chinese Meal

We had beef with cumin, silken tofu with soy, gai laan stir-fried in garlic, and crisp and soft roast duck. Dessert as you can (just!) see in the above photo was simply lychees and vanilla ice-cream. The first three recipes are from Every Grain of Rice, and the roast duck was a bit of a mixture.

For the duck, I amalgamated Nigella's recipe for soft and crispy duck (How to Eat) and Fuchsia Dunlop's crisp and fragrant duck (Sichuan Cookery) - the night before, I marinated a whole duck in a mixture of oil, ginger, spring onions, star anise, cinnamon, 5-spice powder, Sichuan pepper and salt, then steamed it for an hour, let it cool completely and stashed it in the fridge. On the day itself, I roasted it at a very high heat for 30 minutes until crisp and golden. (The Fuchsia recipe instructs you to deep-fry it. Ahem!) My method worked pretty well - crisp skin and tender meat!

I had wanted to make some pancakes for the roast duck, but my attempts at gluten-free pancakes were a huge, sloppy mess! So I just binned them and we ate the dishes all together and they were super tasty!

My friend Adrian cooked a really epic feast to celebrate the end of Chinese New Year, including the biggest yee sang I'd ever seen!
Yee Sang

And finally, for Chap Gor Meh dinner on Sunday night, I cooked a little meal for my parents - the highlights were the sweet-and-sour spare ribs (the secret technique is "deep-frying" and the secret ingredient is "sugar"), and some lau sar tong yuan (little glutinous rice balls filled with black sesame paste, which I'm pretty sure represent luck). Both Fuchsia Dunlop recipes, both amazing!
Sweet-and-sour spareribs

Lau Sar Tong Yuan

Mmm... black sesame goodness
Happy New Year! I hope that the year of the snake brings you all the love, all the joy, all the great health, all the good income, and everything your heart desires!

3 comments:

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Happy Chinese New Year! That yee sang is epic! :o And I love those sesame filled balls so much!

msihua said...

Such a grown up! Kwai!

Daisy@Nevertoosweet said...

Belated Happy Chinese New Year :) Love all your homecooked dishes! Really making me miss my grandma's dishes back in HK :D