Chinese New Year of the Goat 2015, Sydney

Mysaucepan's yee sang

 “Gong Xi Fa Cai, Nian Nian Gao Sheng!!!”
Well wishes for good health, prosperity and longevity
are heard the world over as the Chinese usher in the Year of the Goat

~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~

Is there any other new year celebration in the world where festivities go on for fifteen whole days?

Chinese New Year is celebrated the world over in countries with a significant Chinese population and Sydney is no exception with lion dances gracing the streets in Chinatown and many other parts of the city.

2015 marks the Year of the Goat and those born under this Chinese zodiac are thought to be peace-loving, kind and trustworthy. Famous people born in the year of the goat include Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Rudolph Valentino, Bruce Willis, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and Julia Roberts. To find out your Chinese zodiac sign, you can click here.

Each of the fifteen days throughout the new year carry special significance that dates back centuries in Chinese culture. Even some of the preceding days leading up to the first day of the new year are said to hold important meaning such as the eighth day prior to the new year where a traditional porridge is served in remembrance of the ancient festival of La.

Perhaps the most important time for Chinese families throughout the world is the Reunion Dinner that is held on CNY’s eve. Its equivalent could perhaps be compared to Christmas dinner in countries with a predominantly Christian faith or Thanksgiving  dinner in the USA.

But in our busy lives today, many families take the opportunity to gather with family and friends at anytime during the CNY period for a feast of good food and company. Mysaucepan and I are fortunate to have wonderful friends who have so generously opened up their homes to family and friends this year.

While the hosts would usher in the new year with special new year dishes, it is also customary in many Chinese households in Sydney where invited guests bring along a dish to be shared with others.

Here is a sample of CNY festivities with some of our friends.

Anna & Arjuna’s Chinese New Year feast

Anna & Arjuna's CNY feast 2015

Anna's yee sang

Anna and Arjuna have been long-time friends from Malaysia who have since relocated to Sydney from Hong Kong with their little daughter Priya.

There is no shortage of one of the most delightful CNY dishes throughout the festive season and Anna has painstakingly put together the famous yee sang which features sashimi salmon, shredded carrot, radish, cucumber, pomelo, taro and crisp crackers.

There are quite a few kids this evening who are happily playing in the garden while the adults are prepping up this dish with final touches of crushed peanuts, roasted sesame seeds and sweet plum sauce.

Tossing yee sang at Anna & Arjuna's Chinese New Year dinner 2015

Tossing yee sang at Anna & Arjuna

Within minutes, the salad tossing is fast and furious with happy cheers for good health and prosperity.

Anna's yee sang

Anna's yee sang

Is this not one of the most beautiful salads in the world, just like our hostess this evening?

I have never quite taken to yee sang as a kid but this is truly my favourite salad during the CNY festive season.

Chinese New Year prosperity vegetarian

Chinese New Year prosperity vegetables

One of Anna’s guest have brought a traditional CNY prosperity vegetables loaded with Chinese shitake mushrooms, wombok, tofu puffs, wood ear mushrooms, tofu skin, dried oysters and fat choy.

Chinese roast pork and crackling

Chinese roast pork and crackling

Another has brought a large platter of Chinese roast pork with extra crackling on the side.

Now is there anything better than crispy pork crackling with a cold beer in hand?

Chinese steamed bao

Chinese steamed bao

Soft and pillowy Chinese steamed baos are on hand to make the traditional Chinese roast pork buns.

Chinese steamed snapper

Chinese steamed snapper

Steamed fish is a very important dish during CNY because its phonetics in Cantonese is similar to the meaning of excess which signify having abundance of life’s good things during the year.

And on an occasion as important as CNY, the Chinese will not eat fish any other way but steamed whole with fresh vegetables.

Hainanese style chicken with ginger and shallots sauce

Hainanese style chicken with ginger and shallots sauce

For many Chinese families, poached or roasted chicken is served whole with its head and feet to symbolise prosperity, togetherness of the family and completeness.

I have brought poached chicken Marylands typical of Hainanese style with a ginger and shallots dipping sauce.

Slow braised pork in special soy with Chinese mushrooms

Slow braised pork in special soy with Chinese mushrooms

Anna has prepared a large pot of tau yew bak, literally soy sauce meat that is perhaps one of the most famous Hokkien style dishes.

Decadent chunks of pork belly have been braised with Chinese shitake mushroom and tofu puffs. The meat is melt-in-the-mouth tender and the gloriously rich sauce redolent of five spice calls for a hearty bowl of steamed rice to do justice.

Anna & Arjuna's Chinese New Year feast 2015

Anna & Arjuna's Chinese New Year feast 2015

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Jo & John’s Chinese New Year feast

Jo & John's CNY feast

Mysaucepan‘s cousin Jo and her family lives in the beautiful town of Stanwell Tops in the south coast.

Jo’s father is visiting from Singapore to spend time with Jo’s family and to dot on his two grandsons. And Jo and John have invited us for a CNY lunch with their family.

P1100171 P5610407 Left: Eight year old Jonah in 2011. Right: Jonah today

Jo’s son is the most enthusiastic cook in the kitchen at such a young age and I blogged about a cookout with young Jonah when Mysaucepan and I spent a weekend with her family.

Jonah grilled some garlic king prawns for us almost four years ago when he needed to stand on a foot stool to reach the cooktop. He has certainly grown a lot taller since.

“Are you wanting to follow your kung kung’s footsteps to be a chef?” I ask Jonah.

“Maybe” he replies with a smile.

Mysaucepan's yee sang

Mysaucepan's yee sang

Mysaucepan has prepared her version of yee sang with sashimi salmon, shredded radish, carrots, pomelo shallots and coriander.

Mysaucepan's yee sang sprinkled with sashimi salmon, sesame seed and peanuts

Mysaucepan's yee sang sprinkled with sashimi salmon, sesame seed and peanuts

After a generous sprinkle of crushed peanuts, roasted sesame seeds, five spice powder, pepper and sweet plum sauce, this big mama is ready to be messed up.

Tossing yee sang at Jo & John's Chinese New Year feast 2015

Tossing yee sang at Jo & John's Chinese New Year feast 2015

“Kung Hei Fatt Choy!!” someone yells.

And so the tossing of yee sang starts yet again for us.

“Toss it higher!” I shout as I take this photo.

Wok tossed prawns with garlic and chiili sauce

Wok tossed prawns with garlic and chiili sauce

Wok tossed prawns with garlic and chilli sauce is a popular CNY dish in Singapore and Malaysia.

These prawns have a slightly sweet tinge from a tomato and HP sauce.

Singapore style chilli mud crabs

Singapore style chilli mud crabs

Being Singaporean, Mysaucepan‘s uncle is passionate about his Singapore style chilli crabs.

The only way to eat this dish is to dive in with hands and fingers. The crabmeat is sweet and the spicy chilli sauce draws its umami complexity with a good dose of fermented bean paste.

Wok tossed mud crabs with black pepper sauce

Wok tossed mud crabs with black pepper sauce

Jo dad’s is tossing crabs on the huge balcony and the fragrant aromas are wafting into the house.

John tells me the recipe for Singapore style black pepper mud crabs is relatively simple.

Black pepper mud crabs

Black pepper mud crabs

Crushed black peppercorns are dry fried in a hot wok to release its fragrance. Then a little cooking oil and butter is added with some chicken stock to form the base sauce.

Fresh mud crab pieces are then added and tossed, then closed with the wok lid to let simmer for about five minutes.

“This is one of the best black pepper mud crabs ever!” Mysaucepan declares.

Everyone is just nodding in agreement as we are too busy tucking in.

Fresh snapper with ginger and shallots ready for the steamer

Fresh snapper with ginger and shallots ready for the steamer

A whole snapper is dressed with ginger and shallots, all ready for the steamer.

Steamed snapper in special soy sauce

Steamed snapper in special soy sauce

This is a beautiful steamed fish though I would have preferred the ginger, shallots and coriander added after the fish has been steamed as this allows the garnishes to remain fresh and sprightly.

Then, the most important part of Cantonese style steamed fish is pouring garlic infused boiling oil with golden and crispy bits of garlic to blister the fish’s skin and singe the fresh ginger and shallots to release their aromatics.

John & Jo's Chinese New Year feast 2015

John & Jo's Chinese New Year feast 2015

Chineses style pork ribs and stir fried beans complete this scrumptious feast.

P1100262 P5610441
Left: Eight year old Jonah in 2011. Right: Jonah today

Jonah made pancakes with strawberries for breakfast when we stayed for the weekend more than three years ago.

Today, he is preparing dessert with baked marshmellows, nutella, hazelnut on crisp filo pastry.

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Molly & KC’s Chinese New Year feast

Molly & KC's CNY feast 2015

By far one of the most elaborate CNY feasts each year is held at Molly and KC’s home.

“There will be almost thirty people this year” Molly tells me.

Molly and KC's CNY feast last year

Molly and KC's CNY feast last year

Last year, Molly catered a whole suckling pig from a prominent Chinese roast meat shop in Fleminton and this year is no different.

It is one glorious looking pig that measures more than a metre in length.

The skin is golden brown and answers to a “cok cok” sound when tapped which testifies to how crispy it is.

Lena says it is auspicious to cover the piglet’s eyes and put some decorations on its head. This year, she has covered the eyes with bits of ang pow, pistachio half shells and left a flower and a yellow nectarine as ornaments on its head.

This suckling pig is going to be the highlight of this CNY feast but first things first because there are three delectable platters of yee sang on the dining table.

Molly's yee sang

Molly's yee sang

Three large platters of yee sang are ready to be tossed yet again.

Tossing yee sang at Molly & KC's Chinese New Year feast 2015

Tossing yee sang at Molly & KC's Chinese New Year feast 2015

And since there are so many guests tonight, the ladies have been requested to start the honours of this lo hei.

Kung Hei Fatt Choy!!!!

Kung Hei Fatt Choy!!!!

“Kung Hei Fatt Choy everyone!!” as four young ladies happily toss up three platters of yee sang.

Everyone are armed with extra long chopsticks for better tossing action.

Whole suckling pig being carved

Whole suckling pig being carved

Similar to the year before, Paul is summoned to carve and reduce this whole suckling pig into finger food for thirty people.

He starts by slicing the suckling pig into three thirds.

Removing the skin from the suckling pig

Removing the skin from the suckling pig

Then he expertly carves away, separating bone and ribs from the meat which will be used as stock bones.

Crisp and crunch ~ sucking pig skin

Crisp and crunch ~ sucking pig skin

Within minutes, this suckling has been reduced to enticing pieces of crispy skin. Everyone watches on as he continues to carve the remainder of the pig.

Crisp and crunch ~ sucking pig skin

Crisp and crunch ~ sucking pig skin

The deep, golden brown skin of this suckling pig is delightfully crisp and crunchy with a decadent layer of savoury fat underneath.

Everyone is tucking in with fingers, dipping each piece into sweet hoisin sauce for one of CNY’s most memorable mouthfuls.

Lo mai kai ~ glutinous rice with chicken and Chinese mushrooms

Lo mai kai ~ glutinous rice with chicken and Chinese mushrooms

Lo mai kai or glutinous rice with chicken and Chinese mushrooms is quintessential comfort food.

Tender pieces of chicken combine so well with the earthy flavours of shitake mushrooms garnished with diced shallots.

Boiled eggs with satay sauce

Boiled eggs with satay sauce

“Selamat makan” Mark speaks Indonesian to me in his Dutch accent.

He cooked these eggs ladled with a spicy peanut sauce and they are fast disappearing.

Wok tossed prawns with garlic and black pepper

Wok tossed prawns with garlic and black pepper

Instead of cooked king prawns from the fish market, Agnes has gone one up this year with her wok tossed prawns with garlic and pepper.

Hainanese style chicken with ginger and shallots sauce

Hainanese style chicken with ginger and shallots sauce

I have brought Hainanese style chicken yet again for its versatility of being able to be served at room temperature.

Squid with hoisin and chilli sauce

Squid with hoisin and chilli sauce

Molly’s sotong is one of my favourites each year and I am usually accountable for half of this big plate.

Drizzled with sweet hoisin sauce, spicy chilli oil and sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds, I love the rubbery yet crunchy texture of this squid.

Malaysian style beef rendang

Malaysian style beef rendang

Molly requested that I bring beef rendang so here it is.

I am happily devouring tender and succulent chunks of this beef rendang while everyone else is sweating and gasping this dish being too spicy. It’s my chilli fiend at work once again, the spicier the better.

Singapore style chee kwei ~ radish cake with preserved mustard greens

Singapore style chee kwei ~ radish cake with preserved mustard greens

“This is sooo good with some sambal on the side” Mysaucepan says to Molly as Singapore style chee kwei is one of her favourite hawker food.

Rice cake topped with stir fried pickled radish is indeed a perfect palette for some spicy chilly sauce or sambal.

Chai tow kway ~ stir fried radish cake with dark caramel sauce and egg

Chai tow kway ~ stir fried radish cake with dark caramel sauce and egg

Molly’s chai tow kway or stir fried radish cake with caramel dark sauce and egg is another favourite.

Malaysian style curry chicken

Malaysian style curry chicken

Lena’s Malaysian style curry chicken with chunky bits of potato is a lot more palate-friendly with its spicy sweet tinge compared to the beef rendang.

Molly & KC's Chinese New Year feast 2015

Molly & KC's Chinese New Year feast 2015

This is yet another lovely meal and we feel so fortunate to be able to enjoy all this food with good friends.

Kung Hei Fatt Choy to all our Chinese readers and may the year of the goat bring you and your family good health and fortune!

Chopinand   &   Mysaucepan 

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So dear readers, what is your favourite dish during Chinese New Year festival?

Suckling pig featured above was ordered from:

KW Barbeque Shop
99 The Crescent, Flemington
New South Wales

Tel: +61 2 9746 2891

Opening hours: Lunch and dinner 7 days

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5 Responses to Chinese New Year of the Goat 2015, Sydney

  1. Happy Chinese New Year! Have a fabulous year full of good times and incredible food like this meal :)
    Glad you had such a good celebration!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  2. Wowsers. A feast of feasts!

  3. haha constant time of feasting during Chinese New Year!
    Looks like you had quite a feast there 😀

  4. Raymund says:

    I missed that Yee Sang, the first and last time I had them when I was in Malaysia. It was an interesting dish and how its shared with each other

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