This year…

I am quite sure that I’ve mentioned before in my blog my landlady at her HDB flat along Beach Road in Singapore way back in 1973. I was renting a room there and I noticed that the old couple led such frugal lives, eating plain rice with maybe an omelette or a salted egg or a plate of fried French beans or long beans but come Chinese New Year, she would cook a whole lot of dishes to fill up the whole dining table, a big one, an eight-seater, at least. Of course, they could not eat it all by themselves so she would ask me to help finish the food except that there was simply too much and after a week or so, I was still eating those same dishes, reheated over and over again…but for a struggling student at the time with very little money, I had no complaint and was actually quite thankful for what I had.

I guess it was because of the Chinese traditional belief that they must cook a lot come Chinese New Year so they would be blessed with abundance in the days ahead. No, my missus does not subscribe to that but she would cook up a storm nonetheless and this year was no exception even though we were not celebrating and there would not be people dropping by to enjoy the food and help finish it all up.

We had our own reunion dinner on the evening of Chinese New Year’s Eve, just the four of us…

4

– the three of us and my sister.

I told my missus not to serve everything as we would not be able to finish and repeatedly reheated food would not be all that palatable. Needless to say, we had to have a fish

Fish

Nian Nian You Yu – 年年有餘 – which means something like, ‘may every year end with ample surplus’ or ‘plenty to spare year after year’ or ‘may you have more than you need, every year’ and we also had this very nice fish maw soup…

Soup

…done like sharks’ fins soup but minus the offensive stuff.

My missus did a great job with the kacang ma chicken…

Kacang ma

…which was extra nice – I guess it depends on the quality  of the white wine she uses and there must be a whole lot of ginger as well.

I did tell her there was chicken already so there would not be any need for another chicken dish but it all fell on deaf ears and we had this curry chicken…

Curry

…too and this is one of my missus’ specialties, the masak kunyit (cooked with turmeric) giant udang galah (freshwater prawns) with pineapples…

Prawns

I specifically asked for this sweet and sour meatballs…

Meatballs

…done Hock Chu Leu-style, something that we loved so much during our growing-up years…and I guess the red colour is auspicious too.

Oopsss!!! I forgot to take a photograph of the salad but never mind – I think we would also have that again soon enough. We certainly had a lot of food to enjoy that evening and yes, there was quite a bit leftover, including the fish – tradition has it that you cannot finish eating it at one go and must save a bit for subsequent days.