Monday, 3 February 2014

Chinese New Year!

Edited, coz quite frankly it was rather lame!

Gong Xi Fa Cai - Happy New Year to all my friends and family. It's the Year of the Horse (the green, wooden horse to be exact) and it is looking like a good one for me - I'm a goat and according to the horoscopes, goats and horses get along because they're both quite similar animals.

Tradition dictates that you should have a reunion dinner to close the previous year so strictly, you should travel back to your elder's homes for a big feast. Unfortunately I don't live very near my Mum so we generally travel back on the weekend after to celebrate. This year, New Year's Day fell on a Friday so Si and I travelled back on the Friday evening.

Mum had been planning her menu since Christmas and Saturday was a major day of prepping and cooking the many dishes she had planned. She had already made curry puffs, a childhood favourite of mine for breakfast the next day. They look like mini pasties and the pastry is filled with a combination of curried minced lamb, peas and potatoes all highly spiced and very delicious. They are then deep fried and eaten hot or cold.

She had planned a huge amount of dishes, many of which are favourites of mine and they included prawn sambal - a sour, thick curry made with large tiger prawns flavoured with lime and kaffir lime leaves. This was my grandmother's recipe and brings back wonderful memories of Malaysia for me. We had steamed rainbow trout, wontons (deep fried dumplings made with minced pork and prawn), crispy belly pork, beef curry, chicken and cashews in black bean and a variety of other things. We also had a couple of traditional Malaysian desserts including Kuih Talam, a layered 'cake' made with coconut and pandan - a Malaysian leaf.

On Sunday she treated us to another variety of amazing food including curry petai - my second all time favourite curry, again made with prawns but with a distinctive bean called buah petai or sotu bean. It offers a pleasing crunch and a rather unique flavour but again, it was a dish from my childhood when I lived in Malaysia. We also feasted on a Chinese turnip dish cooked with spring onions and dried scallops which is then scooped and rolled up into a lettuce leaf before eating.

My mother is the most wonderful cook and I would love to see what she could knock up with a larder full of fresh Malaysian food in front of her!

(Above) Wontons - minced pork and prawn flavoured with coriander and sesame oil and stuffed and folded (by me!) into a wrapper and deep fried - this is obviously before they were cooked!

(Clockwise from top left): Prawn sambal, a fragrant, sour curry made with dried chillies and flavoured with kaffir lime leaves; wontons after they've been cooked; Chinese turnip that you stuff into lettuce leaves; Curry petai made with prawns and a lot of chilli; crispy pork belly

(Above) The huge prawns that went into our Sambal

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