Chinese New Year Eve is a very important event to all Chinese. It’s the time when family members gather together for the reunion dinner if possible. Many travel home from far to join the rest for this auspicious time. But for me, sadly, it’s been quite a number of years since I’ve not been back for the Chinese New Year. We miss home a lot during this time and so are our families back home in Malaysia.
I remember one year my mother-in-law called me at midnight (Malaysian time), or 4 p.m. here, to ask me to listen to the non-stop fire crackers blasting into the air from everyone around in the neighbourhood. Isn’t she sweet? But isn’t she naughty too, to make me miss home even more!! And every year she calls to ask what I cook. Of course I’ll make sure I cook good food for her son and grand children….haha.
Well, as usual, we always try to create some Chinese New Year mood and atmosphere here every year. A few of us Malaysian families had a pot luck lunch in my place. In fact we enjoyed ourselves so much that we stayed on for dinner together! There was even enough to last us through another meal. But that would mean everyone sleeping overnight here…haha. The hours that we spent were really happy hours…..lovely friendship, great food, great chat and laughter.
The highlight of the occasion was the special dish called ‘yee sang‘, or ‘yu sang‘ made by my friend. It’s actually a very delicious salad dish. Yee sang is a symbol of prosperity and abundance. It’s made up of finely sliced vegetables and smoked salmon.
Then a beautiful sauce was poured over it followed by crushed peanuts.
Then everyone will dive in with their chopsticks to stir it, lifting up every pick, as high as possible and reciting Chinese New Year poems. That was really so fun.
When all is well mixed, the lunch started. I loved this salad so much that I actually ate 3 bowls!
Another related one is the fish, which is also a symbol of prosperity and abundance. My friend made a few beautiful fish with jelly. They looked fabulous.
For me, a Malaysian meal will not be complete without the famous nasi lemak. It is coconut rice with a few side dishes. The basic are cucumber, salted peanuts, omelette and the must have, spicy sambal sauce. Chicken curry is also part of it. The sambal is a lot of work so I had to cook it the day before.
Noodles is a symbol of longevity. I remember every Chinese New Year, my mom would cook the white, long noodles, called ‘mee suah’, served in chicken soup and topped with 2 hard boiled eggs. Everyone has to eat a bowl for breakfast. All of us liked it very much.
Well, you may want to know what I cooked. Apart from the nasi lemak and noodles above, I made Crunchy Peanut Candy, Chocolate Shortbread Slice, Condensed Milk Pine nuts Slice (recipe coming soon), Chewy Scallion Chinese Pancakes, Chicken Curry, Pork Stew (also called ‘hong shao rou’), baked char siu puff. I also prepared some fruits and sweets too.
I must say it was a very fun Chinese New Year Eve together. We created the atmosphere well and everyone was happy.
How do you celebrate your New Year? Do you have any food that is symbolic of anything? Please share, add and comment in the comment box below.
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