Monday, 9 February 2009

Chinese new year feasting

Food is often central to Chinese celebratory occasions and Chinese new year is no different. Being officially 15 days, Chinese new year is a great excuse for family and friends to dine together and indulge in good food. The following was a meal that I had with my family and some relatives last week. We went across the border to Johor in Malaysia. Firstly, because it is often much cheaper for the same if not better quality of food. Secondly, some of my relatives were driving back to Kuala Lumpur that day and it made sense to have the meal where it was convenient for their onward journey.

Almost all Chinese new year menu start with Yu Sheng (鱼生), a raw fish salad that is traditionally eaten during the 7th day of the new year but has become ubiquitous throughout the full 15 days (and eve of). Ingredients include raw slices of mackeral or salmon, shredded carrots, daikon (white radish), orange peel, and red pickled ginger. I have written about this in my Chinese new year post last year.

Tossing the salad and saying good wishes to mark the start of an auspicious new year (with my shadow lying across the table... Ugh.)
Lou hei!

This was fish fragrant eggplant with a twist, made with battered and fried eggplant slices.
Fish fragrant eggplant with a twist

And then a mysterious dish turned up, consisting of a dark log surrounded by broccoli florets and oyster sauce. A waitress snipped the log open with a pair of scissors...
Cutting sea cucumber

... and revealed that it was a large sea cucumber that had been stuffed with a mixture of tofu, carrots, mushrooms and other vegetables. AP and I passed on the sea cucumber itself but happily munched on the filling.
Stuffed sea cucumber

There was also a dish of large king prawn with almonds
Almond prawns

An enormous steamed fish (I forgot what type) with scary teeth
Steamed fish

Kailan two ways: the stems were blanched and then stir fried with garlic; the leaves were roughly chopped and crispy fried.
Kailan two ways

Finally, a platter arrived with two huge Sri Lankan crab, cooked with salted egg yolk and curry leaves. Having crab always seem like such an occasion to me in the past few years as it was one of the top local (Singaporean/Malaysian) dishes I missed while living overseas. The freshness, size and prices are simply unbeaten anywhere else that I have lived.
Sri Lankan crab

Look at the size of them! I wasn't the only person taking photos.
Reaching for crab

Golden crab roe
Crab roe

Here was a crab claw next to one of the king prawns, which was dwarfed in comparison. My brother took a photo on his camera of me holding up the crab claw to my face, and I swear it was about half the size of my face.
Giant crab claw

The entire meal for 12 people came up to around 800 Ringgit (US$230). Unsurprisingly, the crab was the most expensive dish at just under 200 ringgit, but still very reasonable for its size and quality. The restaurant had received numerous awards for fine dining and is a popular venue for wedding receptions and other celebrations with separate function rooms for hire. For those who are interested, here are the contact details of the restaurant:

Restoran Pekin Sutera Sdn Bhd (五福北京城)
No. 1, Jalan Sutera Tanjung 8/4,
Sutera Utama Biz Centre,
Taman Sutera Utama,
81300 Skudai, Johor
Tel: 07-557 3899/07-558 1818

Today is officially the last day (fifteenth day) of the new year, known as Yuanxiao Jie (元宵节), or Chap Goh Mei in the Hokkien/Fujian dialect. Traditionally, it is another important occasion for a family reunion dinner, although not as crucial these days as the new year's eve dinner. If you have been celebrating Chinese new year the past two weeks, I hope you enjoyed the festivities, especially since many of us might be turning to dieting plans in the months ahead!


VeggieGirl said...

Such a wonderful celebration!!

Little Corner of Mine said...

The food look delicious!

mycookinghut said...

WOW!! What a feast!! The crab claw really caught my attention (being a crab lover... heheh) Just so delicious!! You are so lucky!!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

I'd kill for those seafood dishes!

danny kwok said...

SHiok!! Slurp :P~~~

Mrs Ergül said...

Sea cucumber is one of my favourites! And all the dishes served in that restaurant looks great!

Beachlover said...

all my favourite foods:)your food make drooling!!!

Lizzie said...

Holy moly... that looks amazing! What a feast. (it looks like catfish, maybe?)

noobcook said...

all the food looks super delicious. Wish I can lick the crab roe off the screen hehe ;p

Nic said...

All that food looks so yummy! I am so jealous!

Y's said...

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