So the year of Snake is finally here! I bet you have been eating up a storm. Did you have a reunion dinner with your family, or were you doing the ‘orphan’ dinners overseas like what I used to do with my friends? Did you cook up a feast or just let your local Chinese restaurant do all the work?
It was really nice seeing all the photos of food posted up on instagram and facebook, that’s one thing great about the usage of social media: the sharing! Some might have a different opinion but I think most Chinese appreciate the food photos, right? Thanks for all the wishes flooding my facebook timeline/inbox and whatsapp too. Here’s wishing you a successful year ahead filled with happiness and good health.
My family members are scattered around the globe and this year is a little more special in that my mum and brother are currently residing in Kuala Lumpur. This means the majority of my family members are here, and the reunion dinner by default would be at my place. I had wanted to keep our meal healthy, yet delicious. Taking the centre stage was the Salmon and Crispy Enoki Mushrooms Yee Sang.
Yee Sang (Yu Sheng in Mandarin – 鱼生), or Lou Sang (捞生) is a Teochew style raw fish salad made popular in Malaysia and Singapore in the 1960s. The original versions in Guangzhou were much simpler, made by the fishermen in celebration of the 7th day of Chinese New Year, feasting on their catches. Yúshēng (鱼生) is a homonym for Yúshēng (余升) meaning an increase in abundance. Therefore, consuming yusheng is very auspicious in every way. Nowadays, many chefs have added their own touches and my version was inspired by some of the unusual Yee Sang I’ve heard about this year.
As you can see there are Strawberries and Dragon fruit in my Yee Sang. I’ve also added Strawberry Jam in the plum sauce ala “Gu Yue Tien” restaurant. Instead of deep frying the Wanton skins for the crispy treats, I’ve deep fried some Enoki Mushrooms (upper left corner) instead and this turned out to be the most popular ingredient of the salad (the strawberries came close second).
Here’s the recipe for this year’s Yee Sang and I’ve taken the liberty to add the symbolisms of the ingredients.
Sashimi Grade Salmon, Sliced (年年有余)
1 radish, shredded (风生水起)
1 carrot, shredded (鸿运当头 suitable for all red ingredients)
1 cucumber, shredded (青春常驻)
Half a pomelo (大吉大利)
Handful of Strawberries, quartered (鸿运当头)
Half Red Dragon Fruit, cut into sticks
1 packet of Japanese pickle ginger (I actually used Radish this year because I couldn’t find the ginger.)
Handful of Coriander(青春常驻)
Once all the vegetables and fruits are prepped, arrange on a large plate to your liking. I like arranging the Salmon into a rose. That’s the closet romantic in me.
Deep Fried Enoki Mushrooms (满地黄金)
1 packet Enoki Mushrooms, ended trimmed, separated into individual strands
2 tablespoons Self Raising Flour
2 tablespoons Rice Flour
4 tablespoons water
Pinch of salt
Mix the flour, salt and water together, and pour over the mushrooms to coat well. Heat oil in heavy pan and when the oil is hot enough, deep fry the mushrooms in batches until golden brown. You might need to adjust the ratio of flour/water according to your first batch. Drain on absorbent paper.
200g plum sauce
1 tablespoon Strawberry Jam
1 tablespoon Mango and Pineapple Jam
Juice of half lemon
3-4 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (生意兴隆)
50g peanuts, toasted and crushed (金银满屋)
Pinch of Pepper and 5 Spice powder (招财进宝)
1 tablespoon sesame oil (财源广进)
Once all the garnishes are added to the Yee Sang, it’s time to do our prosperity toss! During the toss, make sure you only say auspicious phrases and good wishes.
Lou ah!!! Huat ahhhh!! I want my record deal thank you very much.
The Dragon fruit turned everything into a bright magenta. Pretty.
You are meant to each take a small portion after the ‘ceremony’. This is actually one of the healthiest dish you could have for the festive period so don’t be afraid to indulge. Make sure to have some leftovers to bring abundance and excess through the year.
The second fish dish we had was the Teochew Style Steamed Pomfret. A fish served whole is a symbol of prosperity. Wow, we are really going with the symbolism this year.
This was my first time steaming a whole fish and I had to use my oven because I don’t have a wok big enough to fit the dish in. The method was simple, I just needed to add a baking tray full of water and turn the heat down (to about 15). Luckily the fish was cooked perfectly with soft bouncy flesh. I love the various toppings but I will not disclose who took out both the fish eyes (and the fish cheeks), ahem.
1 Gold Pomfret
5-6 slices of ginger, cut to thin strips
3 cloves of Garlic, smashed with knife
3 chilli padi, chopped
1 Tomato, cut into wedges
3 Shitake Mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thinly
2-3 pieces of salted vegetables, sliced thinly
3 tbsp Shao Xing wine
3 tbsp Light Soy Sauce or a mixture of soy and fish sauce
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
1/4 tablespoon water
Coriander, to garnish
Heat oil in pan and saute garlic, ginger and mushrooms together until fragrant (and ginger strips turning slightly crisp)
Arrange tomato wedges, salted vegetable on the fish and around. Pour over the Shao Xing Wine, Soy Sauce and drizzle some sesame oil. Add the water too, at the side of the dish (ie not over the fish). Once the garlic/ginger/mushrooms are done scatter over the dish.
Preheat oven to 150C and place a baking tray full of boiling hot water (you want to see the water maintained at boiling point so might have to adjust the temperature a bit). Cover the dish with foil and steam the fish for 20-25 minutes until done. Check the doneness by removing small part of the flesh to reveal the bones.
Garnish with coriander before serving.
We also had Vietnamese Rice Paper Roll (Goi Cuon), a close relative to Spring Roll, which is also typical consumed during Chinese New Year. This version is not deep fried and we filled them with Coriander, Carrots, Bean Sprouts, Lettuce, Cucumbers and small serving of Char Siew Pork. I forgot to take a close up of the rolls but if you refer back to the first photo, you can see them at the right side of the photo. Once again, this signifies wealth and prosperity. We better get filthy rich this year then after all these dishes. Once thing for sure though, the prosperity will not go to our waistlines.
If you are sick of all the rich meaty dishes, this might be something you could consider for Chap Goh Meh (15th day of Chinese New Year).
See you when I’m back from Sarawak!
I am submitting this post to Chinese New Year Delights 2013 hosted by Sonia aka Nasi Lemak Lover.