Friday 4 February 2011

Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner - Part I

Traditionally most Chinese families would gather together for a feast a few days or just before the start of Chinese Lunar New Year. And eventually this meal is known as “Tuan Yuan Fan(团 圆 饭) or Reunion Dinner which is eaten with all immediate family members as a symbol of strength and unity in the family. And during the reunion dinner there is always plenty of food on the table and also by having an excess of food would also symbolizes good fortune for the New Year too.

For the past few years my mum has being joining us together with my in-laws to have Reunion Dinner since she is alone after my dad passed away. And this round is our 2nd year having pre Chinese New Year dinner at "Jing Long Seafood Restaurant" which is located at Bedok North Ave 2.

We reached the place around 5.40pm and almost 3/4 of the restaurant is full of customers either waiting for the food to be served or at least already eaten the 1st dish which is "Yu Sheng". By 6pm the restaurant is fully packed with customers and the serving staffs also seems to be a bit slow and forgetful as they didn't even serve us any drink after 30 minutes upon our arrival.

Finally after another 10 minutes, our "Salmon Yu Sheng(三文鱼鱼生)" arrived and the waitress starts to mumbling all those auspicious words while adding in the ingredients.

Second dish is "Braised Shark Fins with Bean Sprout(银芽扣珍珠翅)". Out of all the dishes in the menu, we find this is actually abit below average taste as the stock is so thick and gluey that reminds me of the "Tau Suan(spilt green bean soup)".

When comes to fish, do you prefer steam or deep-fried? I think most of the people would prefer "Steam" rather than "Deep-fried" if the fish is fresh. But surprisingly our "Deep-fried Soon Hock Fish in Special Sauce(特味顺壳鱼)" on that day was quite impressive with their special sauce and also some "Papadum(an Indian cracker)" instead of usual prawn crackers around it.

Does this "Braised Mushroom with Dried Oyster(花菇耗士生菜)" look Familiar to you? Yes! If you have follow my Chinese New Year dishes, you would have read up the post on how we prepared a similar dish at home. (read more HERE)

Instead of the usual Crispy Cereal Prawns that my sister-in-law loves, this year we are having "Spicy Butter Prawn(奶辣脆皮虾)". And according to New Year myth, eating prawns will bring happiness and well-being because in Mandarin and Cantonese "Xia" and "Ha" mean laughter.

You can find this popular "Lotus Leaf Rice with Chinese Sausage(腊味荷叶饭)" dish in most of the Chinese New Year set menu from various restaurants. It is believes that these rice grain symbolise "silver and gold" that is being wrapped in a money bag.

Lastly for dessert we have something different this year which is the "Assorted Mochi(四季麻薯)" instead of their signature Mango Cream with Pomelo.

This is Part I of our Reunion Dinner on Sunday, 30 January 2010 at Jing Long Seafood Restaurant. Personally I think dine-out during Chinese New Year in any restaurants is actually very rush and the food might not be as good in quality compare to normal days. Although Jing Long serves quite good quality of food but from my past experience on eating reunion dinner in restaurants, I find that with the price that we are paying is actually goes to the staffs OT pay during festive season instead of the quality of the food.

Hope next year everyone can agreed to have something simple at home rather than eat out which is too costly and not worth paying for the price and quality of food we had.

Block 412 Bedok North Ave 2
Singapore 460412
Reservation: (65)6442 9398

Daily Business Hours:
Lunch: 11.30am - 2.30pm(last order 2.15pm);
Dinner: 5.30pm - 10.30pm(last order 10.30pm)

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Lotus Seeds, Longan And Persimmon Sweet Soup

Today is Chinese New Year Eve and I am sure most of the young kids are very excited about the "Ang Bao(s)" that they are going to collect over the long weekend holiday. And for the adults, especially all the "Mums'" no doubts most of you will be busying in the kitchen preparing all the yummy food for reunion dinner.

Ladies from the younger generation perhaps you can also contribute some easy Chinese New Year "Auspicious" sweet soup as after meal dessert to pamper the elderly for preparing such as great reunion feast and as well share the sweet and harmony atmosphere through the sweetness of the dessert.     

This is the most common Chinese New Year sweet soup that is being favourite by old and young generation. You can manipulate with the ingredients according to your preference but these are the usual ingredients used.

Preparation Time: 15 Minutes                                   Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients: (serves 4)
60g Dried Lotus Seeds(莲子), soak till soften
60g Fresh Gingko Nut(白果)
80g Dried Longan(桂圆肉)
1 1/2 Pieces of Brown Sugar(冰片糖)
2 Small Pieces of Dried Persimmon(柿饼), sliced
4 Sterculia Seeds (澎大海)
2 Litres of Water
1 Bundle of Pandan Leaves

1. Soak the Sterculia Seeds into hot water until fully burst out before removing the outer shell and seed. Rinse and drained well then set aside.
2. Soak Dried Lotus seeds in hot water for about 5 minutes till soften, rinse and remove any green sprouts from each seed and set aside.
3. Rinse the pre-packed fresh Gingko Nuts and season it with 1 teaspoon castor sugar.
4. Bring 2 Litres of water to boil, add in lotus seeds and dried longan, cook on medium hat for about 10 minutes, add in marinated gingko nuts and pandan leaves and cook for another 10 minutes before adding brown sugar to taste.
5. When done, add in sliced persimmon and prepared peng-da-hai then give them a quick stir before turning off the heat.
6. Dish up on bowl and serve either hot or cold.

Sterculia Seeds (Pend-da-hai "澎大海") is brown and wrinkled in appearance but sweet and cold in nature. These seeds were traditionally used to soothe a sore throat and cough, but in addition it also helps clear the intestine and assist proper bowel function. From the photo above it shows the "bursting" effect of the Sterculia seeds after being soaked in hot water for about 5 minutes.

With this Chinese New Year sweet soup, I wish everyone had a Sweet And Harmony moment with your loved one just like this sweet soup and their auspicious meaning of the ingredients. Stay healthy always and I hope you will find some inspiration through those Chinese New Year dishes or dessert that I have shared this year. Thanks.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Braised Mushroom With Sea Cucumber

Morning everyone! Tomorrow will be the eve of Chinese New Year and I believe most of the housewives are busy getting all the ingredients ready to prepare big feasts for the family and friends during coming New Year. And for those who are having Reunion Dinner either today or tomorrow, what is your favourite dish that you are looking forward to? I remember when I was young I always look forward to my dad’s “Ngoh Hiang - 五香” and “Steamed Yam and Sweet Potato With Coconut”.

But past few years, during Chinese New Year I will always look forward to my 2nd aunt’s Cantonese style “Braised Sea Cucumber with Mushroom and Fish Maw”. So this year mum suggests that maybe we can replicate this dish for own consume. So after checking with 2nd aunt on the ingredients and preparation methods here are our own version of the "Braised Mushroom with Sea Cucumber".

Ingredients: (serves 4 - 6)
250g Roasted Pork(烧肉), cut into bite sizes pieces
200g Dried Shiitake Mushrooms(花菇), soaked till soft
80g Dried Fish Maw(鱼肚), blanched in hot water
150g Fresh Pig Tendons(猪脚筋)
600g Sea Cucumber(海参)
4 Big Dried Scallop (干贝)
15g Black Moss(发菜), soaked till expand
1 Bulb of Garlic
3 Slices of Ginger
3 - 4 Dried Chili(辣椒干), optional
4 Tablespoon of Oyster Sauce
600ml or More of Hot Water

~ You can also add in a few Dried Oysters(蚝豉) to enhance the flavour as well as for it's auspicious meaning of "Good Wealth" during Chinese New Year.

~ Adding a few dried chili will brings up the flavour of this dish and leave it a bit of spicy taste.

Here is a photo to show the steps on how to prepare this dish.

1. Soak dried shiitake mushroom and black moss separately in warm water, when the mushroom soften squeeze them dry to remove excess water and set side.

2. Rinse and scrap away any dirt from the sea cucumber and pig tendons and set aside.

3. Bring a pot of water to boil, blanched fish maw for about 3 minutes till soften, remove and soak in water for later use.

4. Heat up a big frying pan or pot, sauté garlic, ginger and dried chili with 1 tablespoon of oil till fragrant, add in roasted pork and give it a stir for 1 minute before adding mushroom and stirring for another 1 minute or more.

5. Next add in the sea cucumber and pig tendons and stir till the mixture is well mixed.

6. At this stage you can transfer the mixture to a THERMAL POT or Slow Cooker for ease cooking process. (for this recipe I use the Thermal Pot which I bough from Giant at S$29.90 for 5 litres pot which is cheap and good)

7. Add in enough hot water to cover the mixture, stir the black moss, oyster sauce and dried scallop. Cover and let the mixture simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes.

8. Remove from stove and place the inner pot back to the thermal pot holder and let it stand for an hour before placing the inner pot back to the stove and simmer for another 10 minutes.

9. Repeat step 8 till the ingredients soften and flavour. 

10. If you are using slow cooker, just set it to AUTO and cook for at least 2 hours or till soften.

This dish can be prepared a few days ahead and store in small containers in the fridge till later consume. And if you like this dish but don't wish to take the hassle to prepare it due to the process, you can always cook in big quantity and freeze them in the freezer which can be kept for about 2 months. On the other hand if you don't like the idea of freezing your food perhaps a thermal pot will help to shorten the cooking time.

Lastly I would like to wish everyone a HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR and stay in good Health, Prosper and all the best for throughout the year.

Aspiring Bakers #4: Love In The Air (Feb 2011)

Hello Everyone,

Wish you an early Happy Chinese New Year (CNY) for those who are celebrating this festival. In the month of February this year most of us would be celebrating both CNY and Valentine's Day together as a double occasions. So let us get together and spread the LOVE in the air and share what we have made for our loved ones in this wonderful month.

I'm hosting the Aspiring Bakers #4 for February 2011.

But if you are interest to find out what's on the previous Aspiring Bakers #3 - My Favourite Chinese New Year Cookies enteries, you can refer to the link HERE which is host by Jess from Jess Kitchen.

The theme for this month is "Love In The Air"!

Who can join?
Everyone!(if you do not have a blog, just send me a photo and recipe of your bake)

How to join?
Step 1:
You can either cook a dish, prepare a bento or bake anything that has a "HEART SHAPE" design theme for your Valentine(s) in the month of February 2011.

Step 2:
Post it on your blog between 01 February 2011 to 28 February 2011.
Your post must include the recipe or link to the original recipe. If you are using a recipe from a book, please include the title of the book too.
Any entries that are posted outside the date range will not be accepted.
Any entries that do not include a recipe or link to the original recipe will not be accepted too.

Step 3:
Please mention that you are submitting your post to Aspiring Bakers and provide a link to the announcement of the theme by the host of the month HERE.

Entries will not be accepted if the above is not included.

Step 4:
Email to in the following format:

Your name or nickname:
Your blog name: (omit this if you do not have a blog)
Name of your bake:
URL of your post:
Attachment of your photo in your email (one photo for each entry, preferably less than 500kb).

Please email for each and every entry. Put "Aspiring Bakers" as your email subject. You can submit more than 1 post.


* In conjunction for my hosting for February "Aspiring Bakers" Valentine's Day theme there is  a small giveaway of lovely "Heartshape" tools which you might be able to use it for our event. Details at HERE