Its that time of the year again! Its
money making time Chinese New Year! Happy Year of the Pig! As a kid, I loved CNY almost as much as I loved Christmas. Simply because, it was time for presents! And when its CNY , its money! Ever since I was a kid, I would save every single red packet I got (After checking who gave how much) and when all the festivities have ended, I slowly open each red packet and stack my money into little piles. I then calculate how much I made that year. I still do it! Its a great way to spend your afternoon by counting money! hehehe
Of course, there is more than that to CNY. Every year, as it gets closer to the big date,
my mum we start our spring cleaning. And slowly, the red stuff comes out. The Fai Chun (Red sheets of paper with well wishes on it) gets taken down and new ones get put up. Red cushions come out and my parents head to the flower markets to purchase some red sword lillies a few days before CNY Eve so they would bloom on the day.
Then there is the food prep. For CNY, its not actually New Years day that is important, what is important is to be home for dinner on CNY eve. Every CNY eve, there is a massive family reunion dinner, called "Tuen Yuen Farn". Basically, all the family comes together for a massive feast. I'm free to go out CNY day, but I MUST be home for CNY eve dinner. And I wouldn't miss it for the world!
A good 2-3 days before the feast, my mum starts cooking. Slowly braising abalones at a low heat for a few days so they're absolutely mouth wateringly tender when its time to eat. She has to make the CNY cake, which is made from flour and loads and loads of Chinese brown sugar and then slowly steamed for a few hours. Then there are things like the sea cucumber, fish stomach, dried scallop etc etc which needs days and days of preparation. All this work for one meal. I'd better be home for that!
So CNY eve came around, and I woke up early in the morning to help with the final preparations. One of which was, make prawn chips to occupy the kids whilst they're waiting for the feast (Yes, give them food to distract them from wanting other food)
Then it was down to our industrial kitchen to help with the main dishes:
Frying up some pork mMmm piggy....
So what are we making?
Salt and pepper pork
Fat Choy, Oyster and Pork Hock
This dish is a must have every CNY as it signifies a lot. The Fat Choy
(otherwise known as hair vegetable) and the Oyster, together makes "Fat Choy Ho Si". Which is striking fortune and good things if translated literally. The Pork Hock is for "Wan Choi Jow Sow", and thats also to mean making money easily.
The chicken always makes an appearance on the dinner table, as it is used as an offering during the morning ceremony, which I don't understand too well. All I know is that the chicken must have a head in order for it to be used as an offering, and is therefore blessed.
My Mum's famous "Nam Yu" duck Home made Roast Pork Dried scallops, sea cucumber, oyster, fish stomach with Roast pork Steamed fish - Nin Nin Yow Yu (don't ask me to translate) Fried chicken fillets for.... The kids' favourite Honey Chicken Dried radish and taro stew
Table view #1
Tradition has it that you need to have 9, 12 or 15 dishes. Since we went over the 9 dish mark, we had to make 12 dishes. The only problem was we ran outta room on the table for 12 dishes! There was a lot of reshuffling, and splitting some food into smaller plates for the kids to make room for.....
Ginger and shallot Lobster! Table view #2
But wait! There's more! A dish that we always make is "Tong Yuen". Which is basically dumplings made from glutinous rice flour. This is then added to a pot of soup which has everything in it. Theres heaps of vegetables, meat, dried shrimp and countless other ingredients. This dish is only made once a year in our family. It is to signify a reunion, which is exactly what this is.
I went for a VERY small bowl to make room for the other dishes!
After making complete pigs of ourselves, it was time to get ready for the temple. Usually I never ever go to the temple with my parents. The last time I went would've been a good 10-15 years ago. When we were living in Glebe, the whole family will walk over to the local Sze Yup
temple after the feast. But since we've moved, our siblings have slowly stopped going. I remember the last time I went, the smoke from the incense was so intense, I ended up crying as it was stinging my eyes so much. Then theres the falling hot ashes from the incense. Because it gets so crowded, everyone holds their bunch of incense high up in the air to avoid burning people. But then you can't avoid falling ashes. Nor can you avoid burning yourself with the ash because you don't know what you're doing! (I've got 2 welts on my fingers) But since we were going to head over earlier this year, I decided to tag along.
Sze Yup Temple Stalls selling incense and charms Lighting up a entire bunch of incense PER PERSON
Big fire outside to burn the remaining incense sticks
There is also multiple lion dancing performances throughout the night. We happened to see our friends performing in one of them, but by the time I pulled my camera out, show was over. So we hung around for the next show:
3 lions The "Band" Fire crackers!! Dragon dance Gong Hei Fat Choi!
Gong Hei Fat Choi! May the year of the pig bring you luck, fortune, prosperity and love! And gimme my red packet damnit!