Chinese New Year of the Horse 2014

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.

Preparing salmon 'yee sang'

Preparing salmon 'yee sang'

‘Yee sang’ or literally raw fish, is seen as an auspicious salad during Chinese New Year because of its significance.

2010 Petersons Chardonnay

2010 Petersons Chardonnay

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.

2010 Picardy Chardonnay

2010 Picardy Chardonnay

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.

Ushering in the new year ~ tossing 'yee sang'

Ushering in the new year ~ tossing 'yee sang'

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.

Tucking into 'yee sang' salad

Tucking into 'yee sang' salad

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.

'Yee sang' salad

'Yee sang' salad

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.

A Chinese New Year feast

A Chinese New Year feast

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' glutinous chicken rice

'Lo mai kai' glutinous chicken rice

‘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 with Chinese mushrooms and prawns

Stir-fried Hokkien noodles with Chinese mushrooms and prawns

Stir-fried Hokkien noodles are dark with Chinese mushrooms, prawns and wilted cabbage in tradition with those found in the streets of Malaysia.

Malaysian style 'char siew' BBQ pork belly

Malaysian style 'char siew' BBQ pork belly

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' steamed fish fillets in Nyonya style curry sauce

'Otak otak' steamed fish fillets in Nyonya style curry sauce

‘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.

Cooked Crystal Bay prawns

Cooked Crystal Bay prawns

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.

2010 Beaujolais-Villages and 2003 Yering Station

2010 Beaujolais-Villages and 2003 Yering Station

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

Pit barbequed suckling pig

Pit barbequed 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.

Step 1: Slice off rear portion of suckling pig

Step 1: Slice off rear portion of suckling pig

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.

Step 2: Remove hind legs and then slice off crispy skin from the meat

Step 2: Remove hind legs and then slice off crispy skin from the meat

Tucking the knife under each piece of the pork separates the thin sheet of skin from the meat.

Step 3: Slice of portion just behind front legs

Step 3: Slice of portion just behind front legs

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.

Step 4: Slice down centre of backbone

Step 4: Slice down centre of backbone

Step 5: Slice off each side of the ribs

Step 5: Slice off each side of the ribs

Step 6: Remove crispy skin from meat

Step 6: Remove crispy skin from meat

Step 6: Remove remaining crispy skin from front portion of suckling pig

Step 6: Remove remaining crispy skin from front portion of suckling pig

Step 7: Remove front legs

Step 7: Remove front legs

Crispy suckling pig skin

Crispy suckling pig skin

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.

Mia about to tuck into a delicious pork leg

Mia about to tuck into a delicious pork leg

How clever is little Mia, happily choosing a chunky pork leg over those tiny pieces of skin.

Orange semolina cake

Orange semolina cake

Lemon meringue cake

Lemon meringue cake

Dessert with orange semolina and lemon meringue cakes is no less spectacular than all the food we had so far.

Mia celebrating birthday with her friends

Mia celebrating birthday with her friends

Meanwhile, Mia celebrates her sixth birthday with her friends looking on.

Happy birthday Mia!

Happy birthday Mia!

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

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11 Responses to Chinese New Year of the Horse 2014

  1. Juliana says:

    What a lovely meal…everything looks fabulous…I love suckling pig…and yes, the idea of the crispy skin with a little fat underneath together with the meat is just “heaven”…I can almost taste it…
    Happy Chinese New Year Chopinand…to you and your loved ones :D

  2. Priscilla says:

    Kung Hei Fat Choi for the Year of the Horse!!

    OMG that suckling pig looks sensational!! Where did you guys get it from?

  3. What’s not to love about suckling pig? That crispy skin is what porky dreams are made of…

  4. Happy new year! What an incredible feast. I remember thinking it did feel like a 2nd Christmas feast and I definitely wasn’t complaining about it!

  5. My gosh, how many people did you have at your Chinese New Year feast? Everything looks delicious and I totally know what you mean about it being like a second Christmas -if anything, it’s even bigger and better!

  6. Winston says:

    Oh man, roasted whole suckling big over siew yoke ANY DAY man. Hands down. It’s Mum and I’s favourite thing. That CNY spread looks unreal you have such generous friends to host a meal like this. Gong Hei Fatt Choy to you btw!

  7. Raymund says:

    Thats a nice looking Yee sang, I did partake in something like this when I was in Malaysia but never had seen salmon used on it.

  8. Thank you for sharing your Chinese New Year celebrations & family, friends, & fabulous food! It would be fun to “toss” a salad like that! Though I’ve never had suckling pig, when I make roast pork I select one with a nice layer of fat and sear it until its golden and crisp. My hubby says that’s the best part of the roast! Your wine commentaries are excellent, too. Again, thanks for sharing the festivities!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Kim,

      Suckling pig is quite different from roast pork because its a different kind of crispy skin which can be totally addictive!

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