CNY-YEAR OF THE RABBIT
I Have my own take on the Lo Hei Prosperity Salad. A dish that was modernized in Singapore and became a traditional welcome of the New Year in Malaysia and Singapore. The idea is to toss the ingredients, mixing the content while each person in turn says their wishes for everyone at the table. I like the added involvement by giving each guest at the table an ingredient in a tiny cup to add to the salad while voicing their hopes, dreams and wish for everyone there. The large dish in the centre is then mixed with chopsticks by every and then enjoyed.
Traditionally the main dish contains raw fish, often salmon. I like to gravlax the salmon some years and used smoked salmon in other years. It also should contain little dough croutons that look like gold bouillon to represent riches.
The table was set with 9 additions to the main salad: white pepper, 5 spice power, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, olive oil, toasted sesame seeds, crushed roasted peanuts, crispy onions and Plum sauce with lemon juice.
This year, the Lo Hei salad contained: grated carrot, pickled ginger, grated daikon, grated watermelon radish, thinly sliced red cabbage, cellophane noodles topped with salmon gravlax.
Everyone likes dumplings. I steamed beef dumplings and before service squeezed a mix of soy sauce, sesame seed oil, black vinegar and a touch of grape molasses (not very Chinese but I thought I'd substitute it for ketchup manis (sweet thick soy sauce) into the centre of the dumpling. A touch of spiced chilli oil and a crispy fried oyster mushroom completed a starter course.
Just before the main meal began I sent out the smacked cucumber coated with chilli flakes flavored in oil infused with star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves and 5-spice powder, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame seeds.
Over the next half an hour dishes appeared from the kitchen as I finished each one.
Egg fried Rice with peas and chinese sausage missed the photo call as it went to the tables, quickly followed by:
Chicken breast in star anise flavours, with burnt dried chillies and fried cashew nuts. This is a very hot dish if you bite into the burnt chillies. It's also so delicious that you can't help but try to make it past the inferno in your mouth to eat more of it.
Fried tofu with mange tout and pickled radish. This dish also contained spiced chilli oil and black beans.
Beef with ginger, garlic and onions, yellow and green peppers.
Fried aubergine in hoisin sauce (I make my own which means I can avoid MSG and gluten).
Baked whole sea bream with black bean sauce, ginger and garlic. Traditionally whole fish is served to symbolize abundance in the form of surplus. The idea is that you have so much that some of it carries on into the New Year. It is also seen as a symbol that during the year there is completion.
Cantonese Sweet and Sour chicken. Deep fried chicken, marinated and then coated in cornflour was deep-fried earlier and then added to the red and yellow peppers, onion and sauce at the end.
The dessert was custard filled steamed pows. A new take on the custard tart. They were served warm with mandarin orange (another tradition) soaked in booze infused caramel sugar syrup.
Each table contained a fortune cookie. This year I added quotes from Confucius for us to think on in the coming year.