Menu decided. Will make a savoury cake and a sweet pudding: Lo Bak Go - steam turnip cake, Nian gao - steam coconut glutinous rice cake. I am still thinking if I will make water chestnut cake, but we are only 2 at home, might be a bit too much, I think we can freeze them?!
Also will make mushrooms, broccoli with dried scallop sauce; sweet sour pork ribs and crispy roasted pigeon.
If I am able to make the bird looking like this at home! I found a recipe that need both an air fryer and convection oven to cook this. I don’t have air fryer, so I wonder if the oven alone could do a good job.
Not that much a new year dessert, but I want to eat mango pudding these days, since DH isn’t very hot with the rice ball soup (Tong Yuan), I may go ahead with the fruit thing.
I kid you not, my wife had at least one or two birds for a “snack” every day for the five days we stayed in HKG last week. Crispy skin and tender breasts. Tho not much to look at.
We stayed again in Mongkok, our now favorite roasty shop literally around the corner. Went through a pigeon phase a few years back, and this hole/wall rivals the most revered pigeon shops in Shatin. Lung Wah Hotel, I’m looking at you.
The pigeons are pre-baked and hanging. Finished in a deep fryer to order. If I hadn’t seen the finish, I would never believe their dream worthy birds were not completely roasted while lovingly basted.
Wait! You are talking about 2 birds for snack by your wife! I was thinking of just doing 2 for the whole meal for the 2 of us, and husband is a canivore. I think the pigeon here are bigger (or fatter) than those in Hong Kong. I am quite certain for ducks, but I rarely cook pigeon. I will see in the shops, maybe I should get 4.
memories of childhood days
They have this squab without the head in one of the Asian Grocery Store. I buy 3 for appetizer .
Never made chestnut cake but am used to the glutinous rice cake without the coconut steamed in meat loaf pan, served shortly after cooking. Left overs are even better, , we slice them like bacon, dipped in scrambled eggs and pan fried. Same with savory turnip cake steamed with chinese sausage, mushroom, dried shrimp, pan fry left overs eaten with ketchup and tabasco sauce.
It was my job to roll glutinous dough into balls NY’s eve, served on Chinese NY’s morning simmered in water and sugar. They are either plain or with peanuts, or sesame paste etc. However, only few of them are tinted red. We are required to eat one red ball if we want mom to make us one year older in her calendar. One of my favorite is taking the small unfilled cooked marble rice ball , stir fry shallot in the wok with sesame oil, a splash of soy sauce till it is fragrant, in goes the ball for a minute .
If you can find the squabs , it is best cooked in a turbo broiler.
My family is of Straits-born (Baba-Nyonya) Chinese heritage unique to Singapore, Penang & Malacca. We incorporate Malay/Indonesian and Thai influences into our Hokkien (Fujianese) repertoire. Our traditional home-cooked Lunar New Year family reunion dinner spread from last year:
One of my sisters is married to a Hakka-Chinese, his family’s home-cooked Lunar New Year reunion dinner spread is noticeably different from ours. No curries in a Hakka spread - the reddish-hued bowl of chicken-pork stew on the bottom-left of the spread is chicken & pork cooked in red wine vinegar:
Traditionally, the Taoist Chinese families in Singapore will observe the ritual prayers to their ancestors on Chinese New Year’s Eve, i.e. today Feb 15. It’s the last day of the Year of the Rooster. Tomorrow, we herald in the Year of the Dog.
Pictured below are the traditional dishes which are placed in front of the altar of our ancestors during our ritual prayers this morning. Prayers had to be performed before 12 noon. The whole extended family then gets together for lunch afterwards.
We had dinner at a seafood restaurant on Cijin Island, a short 10 minute ferry from Kaohsiung proper. We had a slendid dinner of squid, sea cucumber, periwinkle, flounder, silverfish, fried oysters, asparagus/clams, fiddleheads and rooster testicles. Delicious per usual, but no dish of any auspicious CNY significance.
The restaurant closed earlier than usual for NY Eve, and we were amongst the last tables to finish.
I noticed that the large round near to us was being set up for a feast. I asked the owner if I may take some pics of their employee New Year dinner and she graciously signaled ok.
One of the traditional Chinese New Year (and celebratory occasion) dish which we had today is “hong bak”. Of Hokkien (Fujianese origin), it varies from state to state in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Appearance-wise, it always comes across as an extremely dark-coloured dry meat stew. In Singapore and Malacca, a “hong bak” variant is known as “babi chin”, usually fatty cuts of pork (pork belly strips or pig’s trotters) cooked with lots of minced garlic, shallots and “taucheo” (fermented beanpaste) and thick dark soysauce, heavily-flavoured with coriander powder.
In Indonesia, the same dish, called “babi hong” (“babi” means pork in Indonesian) uses Chinese 5-spice in place of just coriander powder.
My family’s version is from Kelantan, a north-western state in Malaysia, mainly because my mother (who’s of Kelantanese descent) is in-charge of preparing the traditional Chinese New Year family reunion dinner, and also the ritual food offerings before that. My maternal grandmother used to cook an amazing rendition of the dish when she was still alive, but my mum does it pretty well, too. The Kelantan version is scented heavily using star anise. “Hong bak” (“hong” means “to cook slowly” in Hokkien, “bak” is meat) utilises both pork and chicken together, chopped into large pieces.
The star anise (usually 5-6 pieces) are toasted in a dry wok till fragrant, then pounded into powder. Copious amounts of garlic and shallots are then sauteed in oil, after which the star anise powder is added back. Pork and chicken meat are then added into the cooking pot, followed by the seasoning: fermented beanpaste, dark soysauce and palm sugar (the Kelantanese Chinese love their food sweet). Water is added and the whole concoction is stewed for about an hour, till the sauce turns thick and caramelly. The Kelantan “hong bak” is to-die for. I favoured it over Singaporean “babi chin” and even Penang’s famous “hong bak”, which is pale-brown in colour as the Penangites do not add dark soysauce to the dish.
Fish for sure, since in the old days when things weren’t as plenty, eating fish is associated with having ‘enough left over’ in the upcoming year since fish and ‘enough left over’ rhymes. But on the day before New Year, i.e. today, when families gather for a meal, Chinese markets are an absolute madhouse. The tanks where live seafoods are held are often completely cleared out super early in the day.
I have a stash of packaged frozen fish in the fridge, but that doesn’t seem to fit the occasion.
I love your dish and the color. and thick sauce. My father was born in Singapore while my grandparents were traveling ( running away) from great grand mother in Fookien province. Those days, the mother in laws are supposedly terrible esp if she is a step mother in law. Paternal Grandfather, born in the Philippines was sent home to Fookien to study chinese and to marry at a proper age. His father emigrated to the Philippines, had other wives ,( my grandfather was product of one fo the wives). Any way, they did not have enough money to get to the Philippines, dropped off in Singapore, stayed for a few years before they had enough money to return to the Philippines. I love this dish but we do not use dark soy sauce so, it is lighter brown in color. The Filipinos adapted the dish and call it Adobo, became a little heavy handed with vinegar.( we love the vinegary taste) I do add all those spices, garlic, ginger, caramelized onions, pork and chicken, sugar to make it sweet and red pepper so my version is more of a filipino chinese recipe. I do not know why I have problem making the sauce thick and caramelized. I added bones when I am cooking the dish but still, cannot get the sauce to be thick and caramely. Initially, I use a French oven, cooked on top of stove, finally, I am using a heavy copper tin lined daubiere pot as I can simmer the for on top of low heat for hours without getting worried that it will scorched but still the sauce ( which my son loves as he likes a lot of the sauce) is not thick. So, I resorted to adding gelatin. I guess perhaps I should use dark soy sauce and add fermented ben paste?
Is that gelatin with fruits? I typically make a dish called Along Float ( using evaporated milk and almond and gelatin), then when firm, score into diamonds, turn it over, and add fruit such as canned lychees, longan and mandarin oranges.