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Gong Xi Fa Chai!

Hope you all had a great time celebrating Chinese New Year or an intimate Valentine’s Day over the last weekend. I definitely had a blast with friends up to the coast to celebrate with me over a dinner banquet feast. As this year is The Year of The Tiger, so the theme for the dress code is “feline”. I’m so glad all my friends are good sport and dressed up for the occasion in leopard prints, tiger ears headbands and tail, and even a drawn-on cat face! I love you guys!

I guess I will never learn. I promised myself not to go through what I’ve been through last year again, preparing a dinner banquet by the courses and frantically running between kitchen and dining room back and forth throughout the evening, and guess what – it happened again this year! My initial plan of a no fuss buffet dinner was soon scraped and the list of dishes to prepare growing gradually even without me noticing, I soon found myself slaving over the hot stove cooking up a storm of 12 dishes! But that’s what Chinese New Year dinner banquet is all about, an abundance of food and happiness to share with family and friends. This will be a pictorial post, and I totally forgot to take pictures of the entree and the soup as I was already stressing out with the meal, and taking photos of the meal is the last thing on my mind. But, let’s the feast begin!

Yee Sang (or Yu Sang) – the simplest and tastiest dish to prepare for Chinese New Year. Yusheng symbolises abundance, prosperity and vigor, so if you are preparing the dish, make sure there are lots and lots of fresh ingredients on the plate for everyone to toss, share and enjoy to the fullest. The Yee Sang should be vibrant and colourful because an ugly looking Yee Sang makes people sad. Also take your time during preparation and chop the vegetable finely as it does make a big difference to the presentation. I also bought a very expensive pomelo just for this dish, I had to have it and it definitely adds a whole new flavour to the dish. The core ingredients of an authentic Yee Sang are daikon, carrot, turnip, young ginger, pomelo, roasted peanuts, crackers, and most importantly, the “yu” – fish – and I used smoked salmon as I have guests that don’t like raw fish. Then, it is all about “tossing” the Yee Sang.

How to toss a good Yee Sang

1. Get everyone involved, standing up from the seats is preferable, grab the chopsticks and get ready.

2. The host will then sprinkle the white pepper, five spice powder, sesame seeds inside the red packets on top of the salad. Drizzle the plum sauce all over.

3. Toss all the ingredients together until well mixed. Everyone has to say auspicious wishes and phrases while tossing the Yee Sang wishing for a better new year!

4. The higher you toss, the more fortune you get, and get promoted in your career. The messier the better, means fortune is overflowing.

I’ve prepared an entree of Peking Duck pancake, beef tenderloin with horseradish dressing, and quail egg jelly which I forgot to take a photo of. I have also prepared Jane Lawson’s corn potage as the appetite opener, also totally forgot to take pictures of. FAIL! Anyway, here’s the rest of the dishes for the Chinese New Year dinner banquet.

I kept the fried rice simple as I have one and a half vegetarian guests at the party. I loosely followed the recipe of Ka Lun Lau’s A la Chef-God Fried Rice in the COCO book for my tobiko fried rice. The tobiko egg roe does add a new dimension of flavour and texture to the fried rice. I like my friends just gasped when they saw that thick layer of bright orange roes glistening on top of the fried rice.

I followed Ellie (AlmostBourdain) recipe of beef rendang and it works out like a treat. I prefer the beef rendang with a thick gravy instead of completely dry, always good to go with fried rice. Sorry for the ugly photo of a puddle of brown substance above, you just have to take my words for it that it is delicious!

This is always a popular dish with the vegetarians. I used Jane Lawson’s sichimi fried tofu recipe for last year dinner party and proven to be a hit so I did it again this year. Not to mention it is extremely simple to prepare. All you need to do is marinate the tofu fingers overnight and deep fried the next day when ready to serve. The sichimi (seven flavour seasonings) really brings the boring tofu to life, and also you can’t go wrong with a dipping of kewpie mayo on the side.

Another vegetarian dish from Jane Lawson’s Yoshoku cookbook. This is just a simple side dish of roasted pumpkins, butter squash, sweet potatoes and daikon. What makes it fascinating is the shades of golden yellow and orange colour like a full pot of golden nuggets. Gold = fortune, it is always good for Chinese New Year. 🙂

Momofuku fried chicken with Octo Vinaigrette – enough said. You simply have to try the recipe yourself to understand what I am talking about. I am sure Momofukufor2 will agree and teach you how!

Stired fried vegetable hot pot – Someone has to do it. The Buddha’s delight (lo hon jai), a vegetarian dish I’ve prepared by using lots of Chinese vegetables like shiitake mushrooms, wood ears, baby corns, snap peas, and lotus flower. It tasted even better by reheating the leftover the next day and adding some shredded duck meat inside.

Roast pork belly with peanut butter – I have this crazy idea of glazing the roast pork belly with peanut butter that I would really like to try and suspect it will taste great. I took the risk and served the roast pork belly on a plate spread with peanut butter underneath and “OH. EMM. GEE!” It is sinfully amazing! Next time I definitely take extra effort by glazing the pork belly with peanut butter.

Boxing Chicken – I love finger food and boxing chicken will be the best bet for a dinner party. Another easy to prepare recipe by marinading the chicken overnight then deep fried. It’s deep fried, it’s good.

Last but not least, dessert!

Again, Momofuku book is fucking amazing! So as this Cereal Milk panna cotta! I really can taste Cornflakes in the panna cotta! The sweet and salty combination of cereal milk, chocolate “thing” and avocado puree are intense and insane! But I love it! (I know there are a lot of exclamation marks here, but I am truly excited!!!)

Friends. Food. Laughter. I am a lucky man. This year is going to be a good year. Chap Goh Meh is approaching, I wonder whether I should have another big feast like this? Just joking!!!