Ushering in the Lunar New Year
In contrast to Chinese New Year in Asia with family and friends, over here it is a work day for most people. The snow that we “ordered for Christmas” finally arrived and Ro-Ri San had to fire up the snow thrower to clear the driveway. He took the day off to accompany me while the boys were at school. After breakfast, he drove out to the post office to get me the first day issue of the Lunar New Year stamp sheet.
Have you ever wondered why the ideogram 福 (Fú), shown in the red plaque is always hung upside down for Chinese New Year? Fú means good fortune or prosperity and hanging it upside down signifies that prosperity had arrived at the household. It is a clever pun on the word 倒 (dǎo) or upside down which sounds like the word 到 (dào) which means arrive. That’s the Chinese New Year trivia for today.
Likewise, foods are considered auspicious because they are puns on Chinese words. A classic example is this dish Ho See Fatt Choy which literally means good business and good fortune in the Cantonese dialect. Ho see is oyster and fatt choy is sea moss. My family’s interpretation of the dish is the one below.
Chai Choy is always served on the first day of the Chinese New Year at my parents’ home in Malaysia. It is a vegetarian dish consisting of mushrooms, cloud ears, lily buds, bean curd sheet, mung bean threads, bean curd sheets, red dates, ginkgo nuts, fried gluten, napa cabbage, and sea moss. My Grand Aunt served this dish together with Ho See Fatt Choy. Over here, I combine both dishes into our Chinese New Year Eve (Reunion) dinner.
Since I will not be sharing a recipe today, I will show you some of the other dishes I prepared for yesterday’s dinner. This is my third year preparing Yee Sang. Click here for the recipe.
I also made Lobak (Five-Spice Meat Rolls) and Siao Bak (Crackly Pork) and lined the plate with sang choy (lettuce). The word sang choy literally means growth in riches and wealth in the Cantonese dialect.
On Saturday, we were invited to our friend’s home for a Korean Lunar New Year feast. I was so delighted she made these beautiful Mandu (Korean dumplings).
The mandus were added to their traditional Rice Cake Soup.
Our Vietnamese friend brought steamed glutinous rice with lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and dried shrimps.
My contribution was Lobak (Five-Spice Meat Rolls).
There were many other dishes but interestingly the Korean Japchae though sounds similar to the Chinese Chap Chai has very different ingredients and taste. Both are delicious! Do check out my vegetarian version of Japchae here.
Here are some of the other Chinese New Year dishes found on this blog. Please click on the picture to get to the recipe.