Feasting…

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…

Dabai

– 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, Β it is pretty obvious that we would have a very good one, this Year of the Monkey.

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Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

17 thoughts on “Feasting…”

  1. May all of you have a bountiful year ahead! There are still more dishes? No wonder it reminded you of the old couple. Food looks good. The dabai taste has gone off?

    Thanks. Everyone was still very full from our lunch at Payung so there was a lot of leftover. The old folks would say that traditionally, that is very good – everything in abundance the whole year ahead.

    Yes, they told me to freeze the dabai, can take out and eat anytime of year, just defrost but I feel it tastes different – something like salted/fermented dabai but not quite there.

  2. Yes, CNY is all about feasting. During our time, we have chicken or duck only during festival. We always look forward to it & really appreciate & enjoy everything. For instance like bak chang, we see people selling them all year around so youngsters of these days, whether bak chang festival or not, makes no difference. For my Reunion dinner I have pak lor ark, roasted chicken, ngo hiang, mixed veg. & fish maw soup, very simple.

    People these days sure have it so good – they can have anything and everything anytime, unlike us when we were young…and many things we did not have and did not know of even at the time.

    We cooked our own phak lor ark also and ngor hiang too but my SIl asked us to join them…so they are still in the fridge – we did have some of the ngor hiang 1st day, tomorrow’s post.

  3. We seemed to be spoiled with choice these days and often forget how fortunate we are to have such abundance in our lives. What a nice memory of the couple from Singapore. Thanks for sharing it.

    Yes, count our blessings. People in the past had to do without a lot of things and they did not have a lot of things either.

  4. Gosh, so many dishes. I like! That’s the fun I used to have when my grandparents were still around. Grandma and my mum did the cooking and we would have quite a variety, though not as many as yours. I do miss the good old days.

    Yes, I loved those huge gatherings we had when all the uncles and aunties and their families, my maternal side, made their way home for Chinese New Year and we would have the reunion dinner together. These days, they’re all over the place and they do not come back anymore now that my maternal grandma had left us.

  5. My dad used to be like that too! πŸ™‚

    He didn’t have a chance to eat meat (not even chicken) except during CNY. Pork was quite expensive back then and my grandma used to rear a pig under the house. Unfortunately, the pig was very expensive and it’s meant to be sold, not eaten. They sell it to buy chickens instead and they ate the chicken for CNY. I think everyone just got one piece. We’re lucky nowadays since food is so abundant, it wasn’t always so.

    I ate a lot of five spice meatloaf over the CNY too, it seems like almost every house had it. Oh dabai, loved your dabai fried rice, very flavorful.

    Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, seems that the ngor hiang is a must have, dunno why, what the significance is. Maybe because it is golden after being deep fried? Gold and red are auspicious colours, good for Chinese New Year.

    Young people today do not seem to realise how fortunate they are, they have so much more than what we had in the past…but I think we were happier then, more content with the little we had in our simple, slow and easy lives unlike today’s society of wants, wants and more wants.

    1. Hmm…good question!

      I don’t know why it’s a must have during CNY too, but our family doesn’t make ngor hiang. It might be a Foochow and Hokkien thing coz a lot of other households do. Maybe it’s also an easy way to prepare food in advance and reheat it during the busy CNY period, like how Cantonese in KL eat lap cheong and waxed meat rice during CNY.

      Yeah, it was a different time and things nowadays are different too. I read an article about how new graduates are finding it hard to adjust to work life coz they have little initiative and expect too much for too little on their side.

      I think it is Hokkien, most likely. I am Foochow and we never had that at home, my mum never made those. We would eat those from the shops and restaurants sometimes. It became a regular feature after I got married – my missus makes those and after having had hers, we never want to go for those outside anymore, not so nice…except maybe at A Plus, Kampung Dato shops (somewhere behind Fair Price) – they have cute small ones like golf balls.

  6. The next time I go Sibu, I must try the Dabai… I am still very curious on how it tastes like… remind me next time if I am really there… hahahaha..

    It’s seasonal so hopefully, you’ll be lucky and it is in season when you finally decide to hop over here.

  7. times definitely have changed over the decades, as you rightfully pointed out. i wonder what chinese new year feasting will be like after we’re gone, say in 2056 … will there still be yee sang? heheh πŸ™‚

    We did not have yee sang before – just not the Foochow tradition so all this while it would be something that you guys have over there but a friend sent me a box last year, my first ever…and this year, I heard they are selling it in many of the shops and supermarkets in town. Not expensive at the moment, RM30 but you will have to add your own abalone, salmon or whatever. I guess we will see more of it in future and I hope they will not hike up the prices once it gains popularity – like bak kua (I am not having any this year!) or mooncakes.

  8. wow, such a delightful home cooked CNY feast.. loh bak are always the best, of the best!

    Bet you had your fair share of that, enjoying your mum’s cooking. I am sure you went back to Penang for the festival, right?

  9. I always wanted to lose 2 kg before CNY, so that I have room for feasting during CNY. But, I failed to lose that last 2 kg, so I definitely 2 kg heavier after CNY. Every year, I put on 2 KG during CNY and I every year can’t lose the 2 kg before the next CNY. Haiz!

    It’s ok, you exercise so much. That would be 2 kg of muscles, not like me – 20 kg of fat. Sobsssss!!!! 😦

  10. Wow I miss prawns as big as those, they are expensive here.

    Not cheap either here. They’re RM55 a kg here, the ones this size, but of course, if we convert that to your currency, it is a whole lot more affordable.

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