Belated Chinese New Year family dinner

My folks had been away on holiday in Malaysia since mid-January. They got home on the 15th of February. We all got together on Thursday last week after work for a Chap Goh Mei/belated family reunion dinner, to celebrate Chinese New Year. My cousin AM, her hubby C and little daughter E were at dinner too. *AM has since given birth to baby M! Congrats!*

Here are the pork spare ribs, out from the oven. At photo-taking distance, they smelled very good indeed.

Pork spare ribs out of the oven

Mum stir-fried the vegies using the wok burner on the barbie. And of course, I was by her side, ready with my camera. We did chat away at the same time too, of course. I’m not just some antisocial photo-taking weirdo. :)

Stir-frying the vegies

This year our family meal started off with yee sang, a Chinese-style raw fish salad. “Yee” means fish, “sang” means raw. My folks had purchased a yee sang kit from Malaysia and all that Mum needed to add was grated carrot and radish and of course the fish. On this occasion, Mum used smoked salmon instead of raw.

Here’s the yee sang kit on the dining table, all ready to go. I don’t know what all the bits and pieces are. Mum was a little busy so I didn’t like to ask her. The yee sang ingredients are assembled on the plate, and then every family member grabs a pair of chopsticks (hence the arrangement of chopsticks you see here) and helps mix the salad, tossing it as high as possible while declaring their wishes for a prosperous new year.

Yee sang kit

Here’s a video of the yee sang being assembled (3:57). As you’ll see, people helped assemble the bits and pieces, or offered words of advice.

The yee sang before we each grabbed a pair of chopsticks:

Yee sang assembled before mixing

As I was mixing the yee sang just as much as everyone else, I wasn’t able to take any photos or video while that was happening, but here’s what the yee sang looked like after mixing. As you can see, we really got into the spirit of things and the results were a little messy!

Mixing the yee sang

To be honest, I don’t like yee sang that much. But Jac loved it.

Yee sang

Here’s another link about yee sang if you’re interested – it includes a recipe too.

After the yee sang had been consumed and the table wiped down, it was onto the main meal. Here are the stir-fried vegies, which were served in a fetching red bowl.

Stir-fried vegies

The pork spare ribs had been transferred to a dish and looked even more tempting.

Pork spare ribs

We also had chap chye, which is a mixed vegetable dish with cabbage, Chinese mushrooms, bean curd skin (foo chok), young bamboo shoots, vermicelli and different kinds of fungus.

Chap chye

Mum had also cooked a Malaysian-style chicken curry, with lots of chicken drumsticks and potatoes.

Chicken curry

We had a very special dish of braised Chinese mushrooms with abalone.

Chinese mushrooms with abalone

My sister CW cooked this dish of Japanese egg tofu, which was most delicious. I just love the soft custardy texture of Japanese egg tofu.

Japanese egg tofu

There was a small dish of beef rendang – mainly for my Dad, as he doesn’t really like chicken.

Beef rendang

Having eaten a toasted wrap for lunch earlier that day, I was absolutely ravenous, so it was a good thing dinner was such a feast!

Dinner is served!

Here’s my plate, with a little bit of everything.

My plate

As we finished our dinner, Mum got up and said excitedly that she had something to show us all. She presented us with these. What were they? Hats? Had Mum taken up origami?

Many bone containers

She told us they’re bone containers. Apparently all their friends in Malaysia are making these out of their old catalogues and junk mail. You pop your chicken bones and fish bones etc into them and then just throw the lot away.

Mum's bone container

Here’s a demonstration:

Bone container demo

Obviously, you can use these containers for whatever takes for fancy – toe-nail clippings, peanut shells, prawn shells, whatever. But I think in Jac’s and my household, we’ll keep recycling the old catalogues, rather than putting them in the rubbish with bones etc.

For sweets, we had lychees and longans in syrup, which we ate with vanilla ice cream. Fact: when I was a teenager I convinced a guy that lychees in syrup were actually eyeballs. Really.

Lychees and longans in syrup

Mum is a big fan of sweet corn ice cream, which you can’t find for sale in Perth. When she was in Malaysia she got to eat it to her heart’s content – I believe their friends they stayed with had a tub in the freezer especially for Mum. When she’s home in Perth, she eats vanilla ice cream with a little creamed corn, which of course is not quite the same, but the best she can manage without actually making sweet corn ice cream. She’s made it before, but reckons it’s never turned out as good as the commercially-made/bought stuff. On this occasion Jac tried some of Mum’s creamed corn with her ice cream, longans and lychees. She thought it was OK, but I don’t think Jac’s become a convert to sweet corn ice cream. I love sweet corn ice cream, but it’s got to be the real thing – no creamed corn substitute for me.

Lychees and longans with vanilla ice cream and creamed corn

And so, belatedly, Happy New Year and all the best for a great 2008, everyone!

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