The last night…

Chap Goh Mei is a Hokkien term that means the 15th night of the New Year. As its name implies, it is celebrated on the 15th, the last night of the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival. In Mandarin, it is called Yuan Xiao Jie (元宵节), which means Prime Night Festival. It is also called the Lantern Festival, which can be confusing to Malaysians seeing how we refer to the Mid-Autumn Festival as the Lantern Festival as well.

That night, the whole family would sit down together to enjoy a lavish dinner, not unlike the Reunion Dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve, together but for a change, we opted for a steamboat dinner instead and yes, of course, we invited my sister to join us.

These were what we had in the hotpot…

the giant freshwater prawns (tua thow hay/udang galah) that I bought recently, the abalone that the nice lady at my favourite fish & seafood stall gave to me sometime ago, my girl’s favourite seafood tofu cubes and quail eggs, fish maw, fish balls and fried fish cake that my missus made using the fish paste from Jakar and fish slices/fillet that I bought from the aforementioned fish & seafood stall that morning itself.

I wanted to buy the somewhat expensive pek chio/ikan bawal putih (white/silver pomfret) seeing how it was a special occasion (even though we are not entirely fond of that fish) but there was none and I saw some fish that had been filleted so I asked the lady about it. She said it was “white fish”, great for fish soup and fish noodles – I told her we would be having steamboat and she said this would be perfect for that!

True enough, we loved it a lot, very smooth with no fishy smell at all…and no bones. We did not use all that I bought for the steamboat that night so I told my girl that we would use the rest to make our own fish & chips one of these days. I do think that will be nice.

We also had this pork belly, specially sliced thinly for hotpots…

…some Romaine lettuce and mushroom…

…and tang hoon (glass noodles)…

Once it started boiling and after letting it simmer for a while…

…we started to dig in…

Although it may not be as labour intensive as having to cook all the dishes one by one, it is not that easy getting everything ready for a steamboat dinner. My missus started off with the stock and that entailed boiling a lot of pork bones and simmering the soup to get the flavour out. She also added the water used to cook the fish balls and fish cakes (before frying them lightly) and after all that simmering when it had started boiling, you can imagine how very nice the soup was, so very sweet!

While major activities during Chap Goh Meh for people in China include eating tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) over a grand meal, Chap Goh Mei is the last day that families can toss yee sang together, a symbol of all things auspicious. Of course, we did not have yee sang – that is not the usual traditional practice here in this Foochow town and this was the first time I saw anything about eating tang yuan during Chap Goh Meh. I thought we would only do that once a year during the Dongzhi or Winter Solstice Festival around December.

My sister also saw this on social media so she went and bought these matcha durian ice cream mochi (from Walls)…

…for our dessert, in place of the tang yuan. Yes, it was very nice, very generous with the durian inside but to me, it was very sweet. You will not see me rushing to the shops for more, not when I am on a low-sugar diet.

Another new thing that I’ve learnt this year is how the Peranakan community would eat pengat once a year on Chap Goh Meh. For the uninitiated, you can watch this Youtube video to find out all about it. I didn’t know that because when I was at the fish & seafood stall that morning, the nice lady gave me some yam and tapioca. She said that her ethnic employees went home during the Chinese New Year break and brought back some for her. She insisted on giving me some and if I had known, I could have gone and bought some sweet potatoes and t’nee koi (kuih bakul) to cook out own pengat to eat. Ah well! Next year, perhaps!

Author: suituapui

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

11 thoughts on “The last night…”

  1. Well, I can jolly guess how sweet and flavourful the soup base for the steamboat is with all the simmering of the pork bones and everything. I never knew tang yuan and pengat was eaten during Chap Goh Mei. As far as I know tang yuan is only taken during Dongzhi. Interesting to learn new thing every now and then. I sure love those matcha durian ice cream mochi dessert.

    Yes, I did not know all those things either, new to me. I guess one is never too old to learn. LOL!!! The mochi was good, very thin and not tough and chewy the mochi skin like some, lots of durian ice cream inside.

  2. The giant prawns are really huge. Ouh you have abalone as well. 🙂

    You had a great feast indeed.

    Yes, the nice lady at my favourite fish & seafood stall gave me a pack of abalones. My brother-in-law also gave us a can but we did not open it – too many things, could not finish! Save it till another day.

  3. This is the best kinda hotpot! Better than most poon choi for sure.

    I tried poon choy once, some place near Batu Caves. Nice but no, I don’t think I would wanna have it again – not cheap some more…and all the lovely roast chicken, roast duck, roast pork soaking in the soup – somehow, I felt that it affected the taste adversely. I would rather have those on their own, high and dry!
    Anyway, poon choy and yee sang are not Foochow customs. We never had them here but of course, monkey see, monkey do! There are people seeing what you all do over at your side and they want to follow. I would go into fits seeing the mess after the tossing of the yee sang, my OCD! Plus Chinese New Year, no cleaning, no sweeping! All the good luck will be swept away!

  4. Planned to buy poon Choy for our reunion but it was very expensive so we decided to cook ourselves. A simple Chap Goh Mei lunch for us. Hubby joined us and then he drove back to Sri Aman that afternoon.

    Yes, VERY expensive. The one we had at a restaurant near Batu Caves was way over RM100.00!!! Enough to buy one set dinner with a few dishes for a few people, not just for one dish. And that was quite sometime ago – I am sure it costs a lot more now.

  5. Your hotpot has many delicious treasures in it. I only know that tang yuan is for winter solstice. We didn’t celebrate chap goh meh, it was like any ordinary day for us. We had poon choy last year, maybe we might consider hotpot or poon choy for next year. A long way to go.

    Yes, one year! We had popiah once, each of us wrapping our own. That was nice too but no, it was quite a bit of work as well. Once in a long while, especially for a special occasion is fine.

  6. With all that seafood, your hotpot can be nothing but delicious! Ooohhh…I love mochi, with durian filling even better! LOL!

    That mochi is from Walls, RM8 something for 4, so around 2 something each! Bet you can get them over at your side as well.
    Yes, can’t go wrong with crustaceans and seafood, the soup was so sweet!

  7. So nice, even got big head prawns!
    We normally just use tiger prawns at home, plus all the other stuff.
    When the soup absorbs all the flavours from the meat and veggie, we add the noodles last.
    But like I said before, the dipping chilli sauce is equally important.

    >February is kinda late for such heavy snow, almost Spring.
    Yes, February can be tricky sometimes. But it often snows in this month in London though.
    Sometimes, we can get snow in April near Easter!

    1. Yes, my missus makes the most awesome chili dip – I did not take a photo of it that night.
      We use tiger prawns or the big pek hay (seawater prawns, the bigger and more expensive ones) when we cannot get hold of these freshwater prawns. Needless to say, these are very much nicer.
      Of course, the tang hoon goes in last…when the soup is bursting with flavours!

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

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