It's time to say bye bye to the Year of Snake and usher in the Year of Horse! Continuing our family tradition, we had our all-important Reunion Meal ~ 团圆饭 on the eve of Lunar New Year during lunch, instead of dinner which is more common among the other households. Why is that so? Because, the meal is always laden with delectable auspicious dishes, we can't wait till dinner time to start the sumptuous feasting as early as possible lol!!
Okay okay, in all seriousness, it's because my mum prefers to cook early, eat early, clean up early and have more time to rest in the later part of the day (sounds familiar? lol), so we have been following this practice since young.
Almost every year, we will have our reunion lunch at home though it means more work for mum. Her tastebuds may be picky about outside food but that's not the only reason which kept her busy in the kitchen. She never said it blatantly but I understand it's her way of expressing love for the family through the food she prepared, our kind of tradition.
These are the delicious dishes which mum has prepared this year:
- Stir-fried Prawns with garlic and scallions
- Poached Kampung Chicken with homemade chilli dip
- Roasted Duck
- Air-fried Ngor Hiang with minced prawn, pork and water chestnut in beancurd skin
- Braised Roasted Pork Belly with sea cucumber, mushrooms and chicken feet
- Stir-fried Leeks with carrots and mushrooms
- Steamed Silver Pomfret with chilli, ginger and scallions in light soy sauce
- Fish Maw Soup with cabbage, pig stomach, pork balls and abalone
- Air-fried Soy Sauce Mid-joint Wings
Surprise of the year went to the Soy Sauce Mid-joint Wings. Even though chicken wings is a staple dish whenever I go home for meals, it's the first time it made an appearance during reunion lunch. No ang bao (red packet) for guessing whom mum specially prepared this dish for :p
One of the dish which I always look forward to is my mum's homemade Ngor Hiang. She only makes this once a year as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations (along with her pineapple tarts). The ingredients have to be laboriously chopped, seasoned, wrapped in beancurd skin before going into the steamer. It just need to be fried prior to serving for a crispy bite. Always lovely!
The food we had might not be as fancy as what the restaurants offer but these are what we've grew up with and are close to our hearts. No luxurious Pencai (盆菜) or even tossing of prosperity Yusheng (鱼生) which we call the 'new tradition' because the trend of having them during reunion dinners seems to only have popularized in the recent years. I certainly don't recall them being traditional Chinese New Year dishes when I was much younger. Anyway, mum don't really like yusheng.
Be it lunch or dinner, in the comfort of home sweet home or convenience of restaurant, or whatever dishes the meal encompasses, nothing beats the blessing of being able to enjoy a meal that symbolize unity and a prosperous year ahead with all the members of family gathered around the table. That, is the very essence of a reunion meal.
Let's gallop into a Happy, Healthy and Wealthy Chinese New Year of Horse!
Here's wishing everyone: 马年大吉! 马到成功! 马上有钱! Huat ah! :D