I guess this is what Chinese New Year is all about – feasting and it continued that very night on the eve before the big day.

It did not seem much different to me all the years when I was growing up as usually, we would always have much to eat and something special once in a while but when I was staying with an old couple in Singapore way back in 1974, I noticed that they lived a very frugal and prudent life the whole year through, eating just rice and maybe one simple dish at every meal. Come Chinese New Year, the old lady would cook everything and the whole dinner table would be filled with all kinds of dishes – they probably believed that in doing so, they would have a bountiful year ahead. Unfortunately, their son did not seem to be home most of the time and the daughter was already married so she and her family only dropped by for a brief visit. That was why they kept asking me to go and eat…and eat…and eat.

Times sure have changed. The old folks used to say that in the old days, they hardly ever ate chicken except during Chinese New Year whereas these days, the younger ones would have it so often that they would not even give it a second glance.

Coming back to the eve of Chinese New Year this year, we were planning to have a light simple dinner on our own but my sister-in-law insisted that we joined the rest of the family and knowing how it would make my mother-in-law so happy to get everybody together, I agreed and that sure saved us the trouble.

There was the ngor hiang (deep fried meat rolls in bean curd skin)…

Ngor hiang

…or what is called lor bak in the peninsula and also the fried freshwater prawns or udang galah

Freshwater prawns

…the way my missus would usually cook them.

Then, there was the stewed five-spice and soy sauce phak lor duck…

Phak lor ark

…and of course, I enjoyed the eggs – I had two!!!

Somebody gave my sister-in-law this, a Malay friend, the Sarawak’s own original masak hitam beef…

Masak hitam beef

…and it was good. My nephew had a friend here from KL and he loved it so much that he kept helping himself to more.

I am not sure where they got the roast chicken…

Roast chicken

…but it was very nicely done – I thought it was nicer than what we had at the expensive dinner the night before.

My sister-in-law also cooked some chicken curry…

Chicken curry

…and made some really nice Sibu-style Foochow sio bee (meat dumplings) which she served along side the big expensive ones (RM1.60 each now) from this restaurant but everyone complained about the latter which was, for one thing, too salty.

My missus cooked this…

Vegetable dish

our contribution to the dinner and they even had these…


– even though they were out of season. It seemed that they had kept some in the freezer to take out when the children came home but no, I wouldn’t want to do that as they simply did not taste all that great, definitely not the same and not nice.

There were other dishes as well but some of the photographs did not turn out good like the one I took of the steamed fish…plus I was too lazy to take shots of everything as there were simply so many. That was why it reminded me of the old couple that I stayed with in Singapore so very long ago and if that is a promise of a bountiful year ahead,  it is pretty obvious that we would have a very good one, this Year of the Monkey.