Being Chinese, we’re all mostly stuffed with arrays of mouth-watering food at all festive season. Feasting is the highlight during festive seasons, and speaking of which I just realised we always have food being associated with any Chinese festivals. From moon cakes to ‘bak chang’ to ‘tong yuen’ to birthday noodles, to baby showers, and even during ‘ching ming’.
But sometimes having all savoury can make me feel ‘jelak’. So this pre-CNY we had this simple lunch. Oh I am craving for the feel now, maybe because I’ve been staying own my own for the longest time and having meals as such is just fantastic.
Again, having 'popo' eyeing on everything in the kitchen just make everything taste right. So for that afternoon, we have this lunch after the prayers. It’s an interesting ceremony where we’d be praying for the ancestors and the lunch is the offerings.
And after the ‘ancestors’ are done with it, it’s our time to feast.
So there are, stir fry mix vegetable. A crunchy mix of celery, baby corn, broccoli and all being bind with the soft mushrooms, chicken, soy sauce and oyster sauce.
Then there’s ‘ju hu char’. A Peranakan & Penangite staple. Finely shredded carrots and radish and cook till soft with the stripes of ‘ju hu’; the dried cuttle fish.
What’s a prayer offerings without a chicken? So there is always chickens involved in any Chinese prayers. Like the Cantonese sayings; ‘Tong Kai Wan San’.
So the broth from the boiled chicken is being used to make the simple vegetable soup. It had the chicken gizzard, liver feet and neck that boils with the Chinese cabbage and carrots, then garnished with parsley and spring onions.
And there, you have the boiled chicken, and boiled pork belly too. After the prayers ended they are being chopped into bite sizes. And with a simple ‘cili padi’ + soy sauce dip, it is all perfect.
And, definitely must have fish, ‘Nien Nien You Yu’ an auspicious dish. So it’s a simple ‘Yao Cham’ literally mean dipping in the oil, the fresh grouper is being deep fried in hot oil after a simple marinate of salt and pepper. And one it’s crisp crunch, squirt in dashes of soy sauce and if you hear the sizzles, you’re on the right track. Serve it with some fried ginger and chopped spring onions.
So, as simple as the meal is, it bring a strong feel of being back home and dining with everyone happily. At most times, less is more.
Happy ‘Chap Go Meh’ (belated!)