Kung Hei Fatt Choy to all our Chinese readers!!
Since Mysaucepan and I started food blogging almost three years ago, Chinese New Year has not been the same since. Surrounded by so much good food, it is an awesome time for taking photos of family meals and telling the whole world about what we ate during the festivities.
For the Chinese, it is like having a second Christmas because Chinese New Year usually occurs around the months of January or February. The first day of Chinese New Year of the Horse 2014 was on Friday, 31 January 2014.
And as culture and tradition would dictate, the festivities last for fifteen days where Chinese people the world over would celebrate and usher in the new year with elaborate meals during this joyous time in the Chinese calendar.
Check out our blog posts for the last two Chinese New Years:
This year, our friends Molly and KC throw yet another sumptuous Chinese New Year feast at their home.
‘Yee sang’ or literally raw fish, is seen as an auspicious salad during Chinese New Year because of its significance.
I like Chinese New Year in Australia because unlike the motherland in the northern hemisphere, summer her means enjoying beautiful white wines which are so versatile with Chinese food during the new year.
I find the flavours of a 2010 Petersons Chardonnay from the Hunter in New South Wales a little raw though there is potential for complexity through cellaring.
Similarly, a 2010 Picardy Chardonnay from the Pemberton in the Great Southern region of Western Australia is missing that trademark buttery and oaky character.
A few more years in the bottle might bring this wine to its full potential.
One of the highlights of Chinese New Year is tossing ‘yee sang’ to bring good fortune and prosperity for the year.
Armed with extra long chopsticks specially designed for tossing the salad, everyone joins in to toss large platters of salmon sashimi, pomelo pods, shredded radish, carrots, pickled vegetables, tangy plum sauce and fresh coriander into a colourful concoction of deliciousness.
There are many variations of ‘yee sang’ throughout South East Asia but for now, it’s a good idea to just get a few chopsticks full of this awesome salad onto the plate.
Every mouthful is a heady combination of succulent salmon, nutty crunch of roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, fresh shredded carrots, radish and tangy pickled onions.
Whether it’s riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris or rosé, the versatility of this salad can just about accommodate it all.
The food is impressive and with such a mesmerising spread, I pause to ‘strategize’ before tucking in.
‘Strategic eating’ is always wiser than piling a heap of everything on your plate, which can become rather dangerous for those counting the calories.
‘Lo mai kai’ or glutinous chicken rice is an iconic savoury Chinese dish of sticky rice with diced chicken, Chinese mushrooms and ‘lup cheong’.
This dish has always been a favourite at yum cha where it is wrapped with lotus leaves and steamed.
Stir-fried Hokkien noodles are dark with Chinese mushrooms, prawns and wilted cabbage in tradition with those found in the streets of Malaysia.
It takes immense willpower to resist the sweet, fatty and unctuous chunks of Malaysian style ‘char siew’.
Every mouthful is totally decadent and deliciously sinful.
‘Otak otak’ should not be pronounced ‘o-tack o-tack’ as so many of us do.
Chunky pieces of fish are steamed with nyonya style curry sauce redolent of ginger, chilli, lemongrass, kaffir lime, turmeric and coconut cream.
Crystal Bay prawns are arguably among the best cultivated prawns in Australia.
Fresh, crunchy and sweet, I love dunking these prawns into a wasabi and light soy dipping sauce.
A 2010 Beaujolais-Villages is peppery and spicy but after an hour, tannins are soft and mellow.
I find a 2003 Yering Station Shiraz Viognier full of fruit characters though flavours are elegant and restrained with a much longer finish.
Chinese New Year suckling pig
Telling the world about what we ate is one thing but pigging out is another. And during this Chinese New Year, we literally did just that because the pièce de résistance this evening is a whole suckling pig staring us down on the dining table.
This suckling pig is pit barbequed to a deep golden honey colour.
Weighing at least five kilograms, a gentle tap on the skin tells me it is thin and crisp.
After some deliberation and coaxing, Paul is unanimously nominated to carve up this little beauty. The first cut across the back of the suckling pig gives out a crackling sound of the skin, drawing more curiosity to the dining table.
Eager on-lookers are now waiting, plate in hand, for a piece or three of this luscious pig.
Tucking the knife under each piece of the pork separates the thin sheet of skin from the meat.
The process isn’t as difficult as it looks and before long, Paul is reducing the whole carcass into smaller segments the only identifiable piece left is the one staring at us all laughing around the table.
Dipped into a thick savoury hoisin sauce, each piece of suckling pig gives out that splintering crunch as we sink our teeth into it.
Tasty with its thin layer of fat under the skin, everyone is busy tucking in.
How clever is little Mia, happily choosing a chunky pork leg over those tiny pieces of skin.
Dessert with orange semolina and lemon meringue cakes is no less spectacular than all the food we had so far.
Meanwhile, Mia celebrates her sixth birthday with her friends looking on.
Another Chinese New Year feast comes to an end, many of us vowing to go on a diet over the next few days after so much food.
So dear readers, have you tried suckling pig before and if so, did you enjoy it as much as a good old roast pork with its delicious crackling?
*Suckling pig was ordered from KW Barbeque Shop.
KW Barbeque Shop
99 The Crescent, Flemington
New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 9746 2891
Opening hours: Lunch and dinner 7 days