The Super Epic 2008 Chinese New Year Family Dinner
The Year of the Rat is off and running and things, for the most part, seem pretty “Rat Free”. This past Sunday, the whole family gathered for an “Epic” multi-course Chinese feast to ring in 2008.
Making Money On Chinese New Year With Stephen Fung!
One of the things that John Chow likes to do is Make Money Online. Unfortunately, he missed the boat when it came to Making Money On Chinese New Year. You see, once you get married, you no longer get “Lai-See” which is also called Lucky Money. In fact, to stay lucky, you have to start handing out these envelopes to the kids or people younger than you. These little red envelopes bring the bearer luck. The more you get, the luckier you become. I guess your luck really does start to run out when you get married. Where’s my “Lai-See” John? 😉
The Epic Chinese New Year Dinner
Forget your sweet and sour chicken balls, fried rice and chow mein. A true epic Chinese Multi-Course Meal takes a couple hours and will leave you stuffed with an uncanny ability to do math in your head for a couple hours thanks to the added MSG.
The first course was a Prawn and Fruit Salad. It’s made with Jumbo Prawns, honey dew and cantaloupe mixed in mayonaise and served on a bed of sliced lettuce and garnished with sliced orange.
The second course was a deep fried crab ball with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. You can see the little crab claws protruding out of the ends. They serve as a handy grip. Be careful though! The center is extremely hot and I’ve burned the roof of my mouth more than a few times back in the day.
For the third course, we take a very traditional route. This dish is made of dried oysters and black mushrooms as well as something called “Fat Choy” which either means “Hair Vegetable” because it looks like black hair or for the purpose of Chinese New Year “Getting Rich”. I used to hate this dish, but as my tastes have matured, thanks to my many fine dining adventures, I’ve really begun to enjoy more traditional dishes…except for chicken feet.
For the fourth course, we take a soup intermission. This soup is made made of fish maw, which is actually the air bladder of large fish, the function of which is to regulate water and oxygen flow so that the fish can ascend or descend in the water. Apparently, it will make you swim better or something. It is combined with crab and egg in a clear thickened broth and tastes great with a bit of vinegar and white pepper.
Next we have our crispy skin fried chicken with shrimp chips. This dish hasn’t changed since I was a kid, but it doesn’t need to. It’s just as good as it was when I was a kid and the shrimp chips still stick to your tongue. The chicken skin is my favourite part.
For the next, and sixth course we get a couple of steamed crabs. I’m not a huge fan of crab dishes because you have to crack open the legs and then work for the meat. It’s not like lobster where the pieces are far larger and require less work to get inside. I’d prefer if someone did it for me. However, I did find a crab leg that was broken apart enough for me to dive in. It’s good stuff.
For number seven, we had a dish that contained two types of mushrooms. At first, I thought it was sliced abalone, but the texture isn’t the same. Underneath, you’ll see the regular black mushrooms, and below that was some vegetable called “dou mui” which is like “Soy…something”.
Lucky number eight was a couple of steamed fishes in a soy broth topped with a julienned mixture of ginger and cilantro. The fish was super tender and once hit was the sweetness of the soy broth, it was very tasty. Be careful of the bones. Chinese people like to work for their food.
Moving right along, we get our two final dishes which include a noodle dish and a rice dish. The noodles were your typical Chinese “Yee Mein” which isn’t normally my favourite. The rice dish, however, really brought back memories. It was a pan fried glutonous rice with bits of dried chinese sausage, dried shrimp, dried black mushrooms scallions and ribbons of egg. Granny used to make this for me and I can’t even remember the last time I had it. It was so good. It’s like the “Cadillac” of all rice. Like, seriously, lock me in a room with a tub of this stuff. It is THAT GOOD!
Finally, after 10 courses, we finish off the evening with a desert. I was hoping that it wasn’t red bean. I’m so sick of red bean. Guess what folks? We got red bean. Why can’t we get mango pudding or something? Mmm… Mango Pudding… On the bright side, everyone left with happy Buddha bellies and for those of us that weren’t married, money in our pockets too. Till next year! 😉