Happy Lunar New Year!

Even though I started 2017 wanting to write more, this has obviously not translated into real, tangible action to do so. A month has passed, and this is my second post in as many months. That said, January has been quite a whirlwind, even as usual, nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary transpired. I could not remember what took place in the intervening days, other than the Lunar New Year that came and went just a few days ago. Lunar, because someone on Facebook mentioned how it should not be called ‘Chinese New Year’ as the festival is observed by not just Chinese. The Koreans, Vietnamese too? and several other nationalities celebrate it as well so let us just call it Lunar New Year.

This year, the office held a department lunch the day before the eve, since eve fell on a Friday and it’s traditionally a half-day off for us. For the first time, the lo-hei was an official one. In the past years, I recalled that we had a lo-hei at one of the bosses’ home when we held a BBQ at her place. Then in another year, we got lunch catered in the office and the lo-hei was either provided as part of the catered package, or we got it from outside. Either ways, I guess it’s a new practice that comes with a new boss.

Lunch at the Silk Road was a pretty pricey affair since it’s a special set menu that we were ordering. I won’t comment on the food since I do not count myself a connoisseur of food to say if it is good or bad, but the service definitely was not up to par. The restaurant was crowded, which is understandable since everyone was having their office lunar new year lunches, but they should have already expected it based on the bookings made, yet they made no (does not seem like they did anyway) plans to ramp up their staff to handle what needed to be done. We were one of the first tables there but ended up receiving tardy service; the interval time between dishes were inconsistently timed and they actually missed out one dish entirely until we had to remind them of it. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the set we picked was the lowest as compared to the other tables who seemingly ordered the premium sets?

So anyway it is a ‘free’ lunch for me, and it kicked off with the prosperity yu-sheng, which used smoked salmon instead of the usual raw fish. Not too sure if this was due to the raw fish scare that took place last year. I am not a big fan of smoked salmon but this one was still ok since I only had a slice. I was more interested in the 黄金, the crispy crackers that were so fragrant while munching.

On the eve of Lunar New Year, it’s the usual steamboat reunion dinner. Same as last year, we had it at my brother’s place and the food seems to be much less than before. We just cannot eat as much as we used to because most of us, with the exception of my nephew, are well past the age where our metabolisms can support massive eating.
Just before the Lunar New Year, I was down with a bout of flu and was / am still recovering from having phlegm stuck in my throat. But that did not stop me from feasting and enjoying the new year goodies. Though I do not binge on pineapple tarts, loveletters, bak kwa and the lot, I can actually count the number of pieces I have so far, I really let go in indulging in roasted cashews, green pea cookies and arrowhead chips. These are my kryptonite during this festive season, and they are no less heaty and unhealthy as compared to the others. Oh well, it’s once a year so I should not be so hard on myself right? The 初三 popiah party that was held, kind of like an annual tradition of my family too, again had me indulging in so much unhealthy food. Instead of eating the star dish of popiah, I was snacking non-stop on what my brother cooked with his air-fryer, a housewarming gift he received last year. Haha. So we had things like fries, chicken karaage, and prawn roll!

To balance out all that fried food, our lo-hei was a healthier version though. Put together by my aunt, it’s mainly a ginormous plate of sliced fruits, topped with the sinful sweet sauce though, and of course the 黄金, which my brother added on a copious amount with Lay’s Potato Chips – talk about innovation.

So that is 2 rounds of 捞鱼生 so far. Time to start reining in the eating!

Lou Hei (捞鱼生)

Each year during Chinese New Year, there is a tradition to “lou hei”, which is actually a Cantonese term for 捞起, which literally translates to picking/scooping/fishing up. According to wikipedia, this is called Prosperity Toss, and as much as the term commonly-associated with it is Cantonese, yusheng is a Teochew-style raw fish salad. I don’t always have yusheng during Chinese New Year, since it is not really something you would go to a Chinese restaurant to on “lou” your own, besides my family do not have this tradition of eating yusheng within our own nucleus, rather it is something that we will have if we are having dinner with the relatives during this festive period. Steamboat is more common or popular with us.

So before CNY began, I had my first lou hei of the year with my colleagues during lunch at a Japanese restaurant. It was a little weird because it is a Japanese restaurant after all, but then that means we had all the raw fish we wanted in it, though we had to go through the process of adding the condiments ourselves, together with speaking the auspicious phrases that go with each item added. I don’t think we did it right, except of course the last part, which I’m sure everyone is well aware of, 满地黄金.        20130222-091138.jpg

This is a picture of the yusheng that we had yesterday, with a different group of colleagues, at Crystal Jade Kitchen. It’s a rather big portion (costs S$68) and comes with 16 slices of raw salmon, which I only managed to get a paltry measly slice. Yusheng dishes are not always nice because sometimes there is too much of the sauces that are added that makes everything soggy and sweet but in this case, it was just nice and there was this item in the dish, fried yam sticks I think, which is something different. It added to the variety in terms of taste and texture so on the whole it wasn’t boring to eat it. Well, supposedly yusheng is a dish that is eaten more for its significance rather than its taste but it does help that it is palatable and generally healthy (as long as we are mindful of the amount of sauce thrown into the mix and also the number of pieces of 黄金 that you take)!