This Was CNY, My Style

I know this is a bit late, but well, in an effort to infuse more personal touch to my blog (ahem… this is not a magazine blog, by the way) to my blog, here’s a run down of what happened for me during Chinese New Year 2019.

Returning from half day work on CNY eve, we started preparing for our reunion dinner. The plan was simple, but implementation not.

There was Pen Cai (盆菜), a pot of fungus and shell fish in traditional Chinese-ish herbal-ish broth, steamed seafood and steamboat for preparation.

Compared to the past when my mum took care of all the cooking (including making Ngor Hiang (五香) and frying tonnes of goodies), our dinner these years require less work from the scratch.

The Pen Cai was from Eu Yan Sang at $135 for 5 – 6 pax, which came with a thermal pot as a CNY promotion (and I carried them all the way from Suntec City because I wasn’t sure if the outlet at Seng Kang had it). We added more canned shellfish, prawns and abalones to the mix.

Chinese New Year 2019 - Reunion dinner, Pen Cai 盆菜 from Eu Yan Sang, in a thermal pot, added with prawns, vegetables and shellfish.

The cooking was slow as we did not want to cause the stew to stick to the pot. So for a recommended heating up time of 15min, we took about 30min. Thereafter, the pot was placed in the thermal pot to be kept warm, and I must say the pot was of high quality!

The steamboat, like always, was just a matter of dumping everything into the pot, with the soup made from Hai Di Lao‘s pre-mix soup stock. We used to do it the conventional way, where everyone was issued a holey ladle to cook our own meat, but with more people in the household, that became difficult and we switched to cooking everything first and we just taking whatever we wanted from the mix.

Kinda like making soup but at the dining table in a steamboat vessel.

Chinese New Year 2019 - Reunion dinner, steamboat made from Hai Di Lao's soup stock, beansprouts, chicken sausage, tofu cake, fish, fishballs, fishcakes, mushrooms.

The most work came from the seafood, courtesy from my brother in law who had high standards for his seafood. The prawn must be alive till the point he decided to cook them, for example.

His menu included Drunken Prawns, Bamboo Clams, Lobster and Crab. Well, I must say he added too much garnishing and spoiled the freshness of the seafood with the excessive amount of ginger and garlic. I only ate 1 prawn and 1 bamboo clam and I gave up.

Not that I’m complaining… 😛

Chinese New Year 2019 - Reunion dinner of Drunken Prawns, steamed crab and steamed clams.

First day of CNY was spent waiting for relatives to arrive. Somehow, both my parents were the eldest of their siblings, and as time went by, we became the Empress Dowager that waits for people to come and 请安 rather than us going around making visits.

Not that we lazed around doing nothing.

There was the customary Yu Sheng (鱼生), where we bought a generic NTUC version and then zhng-ed it by adding more of shredded radish (red, green, yellow), more pok pok, more syrup and then… smoked salmon.

This year, however, we ordered food catering rather than preparing dinner from scratch. Fatty Daddy Fatty Mummy was our blessing for the evening, where our gathering became more like an elderly social gathering.

Oh well… Time passes by…

Here’s a pineapple tart made by my cousin, modeling the snack into the shape of a pig, because this is the Year of the Pig under the Chinese zodiac. Last year, she made doggie pineapple tarts. I’m looking forward to the ratty version next year lol

Chinese New Year 2019 - Pineapple Tart 黄梨挞 made in the shape of a Pig.

Another funny thing about Chinese New Year was how we had to eat leftovers from the reunion dinner for a few days.

In the past, Singapore’s commercial scene would grind to a halt during Chinese New Year; there is nowhere you could find a shop/stall selling food during the 2 days of Chinese New Year. Even the non-Chinese stall owners took the chance to take a break during the festive period!

Therefore, it became a must/norm to overcook for reunion dinner and stock up the fridge for food that could be cooked during Chinese New Year.

In the past decade or so, things improved. McDonald’s and fast food opened through CNY and so did NTUC, so there was not much of an urgent need to stock up the larder for CNY.

One thing that didn’t change, however, was the habit of overcooking, such that for the next few days, eating leftover from reunion dinner became a habit.

My breakfast for Day 2 was actually from the leftover steamboat – I added Korean ramyeon to the mix and had seafood ramyeon local style!

Chinese New Year 2019 - Breakfast from reunion dinner leftover, ramyeon mixed with steamboat consisting of fresh vegetables, fish, pig's liver, wolfberry seeds, beansprouts and fishcake.

Last, but not least, Happy 元宵节 from Big Pig and Small Pig!

Chinese New Year 2019 - Selfie with Piggy plushie.

All photos and videos were taken with Google Pixel XL, posted on Instagram stories and edited (where necessary) with Snapseed and Camera360.

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