Year of the Rat
(dried candied vegetables, red carnations, happy golden rat, CCTV New Year Special… so weird)
The lunar new year means lots of red everywhere, and of course the food. My mom hit a new record, with 10 dishes.
Whole steamed carp (I think) with soy sauce, cilantro and scallions. To save time my mom steamed the whole plate in a bag in the microwave.
Stir-fried squid with pickled vegetables. I love the salty sharp tart flavor.
Lotus root boiled in stock. They tend to be either crunchy or starchy (potato like), these were the starchy kind that my dad overwhelmingly prefers.
Sea cucumber in oyster sauce. This year my mom went with dried sea cucumbers and soaked it for two weeks! I don’t know if was really necessary. Usually frozen ones have a strange alkaline taste that sometimes renders it inedible, but these were perfect. Sea cucumbers don’t really have a taste on their own, they just cook up soft and gelatinous (something Asians love).
Mung bean noodles and fried fish (ignore the blurry pic). The long noodles bring longevity and the fish somehow represents things going smoothly (swimmingly?) for the New Year. You eat one fish before the New Year and one right after. The fried fish were rubbed with salt the day before cooking and are really tasty but wrought with dangers of countless tiny bones (for those untrained).
Shrimp and squid stir-fried with sugar snap peas.
Shitake mushrooms with fish cake. Usually Chinese fish cakes are just made from one type of pureed fish. You can but the fish paste raw, and here it’s mixed with some chopped shrimp and water chestnuts.
Only things left are the things I don’t eat, pig’s feet with moss (never liked the smelled of the moss) and steamed chicken (sorry again for the blurry pic). These are sort of obligatory, with the moss (faat choi) sounding like and symbolizing wealth/prosperity. And the chicken is there for every occasion.