Friday, February 10, 2012

Last weekend of Chinese New Year - Part 1

The usual group of parents organised a Chinese New Year get-together for the children on Sunday (5 February 2012) and everyone agreed to contribute in some way. On our part, we volunteered to provide the food and host it at our place. So for us, last weekend was a blur of cooking (with a little bit of art appreciation thrown in).

It seemed only right that we serve Chinese food and incorporate Chinese New Year dishes so the menu was yee sang, fried rice noodles (bee hoon), minced pork porridge, curry chicken, fried spring rolls, stir fried prawns in XO sauce, stir fried asparagus and chicken, egg foo yoong, koi fish-shaped agar-agar, and tang yuan (dumplings in ginger flavoured syrup). We decided to buy the first three and make the rest. I initially wanted to make the yee sang too, and had already bought some of the ingredients, but when I started planning the menu, I decided that I would focus on the other dishes instead and just buy a good quality yee sang (we ordered the salmon yee sang from Si Chuan Dou Hua).

So the day before, Saturday, was spent getting ready for the party, which for us meant going to the market to pick up some groceries and preparing the dishes that could be prepared in advance. When we got back from the market in the morning, I made the koi fish agar-agar. The moulds were made of very thin plastic and the first one was a disaster - the mould went out of shape when I ladled in the (too) hot liquid! I corrected my mistake and the following moulds turned out fine. I was very happy with the result!

These had fresh milk in the mixture, resulting in brighter colours.

These were without milk, giving a more crystalline appearance.

For lunch, we went into town. Richard did some banking while I picked up some extra plates, bowls and servingware. Then, we took some time out to go to the National Museum to visit the Dreams & Reality exhibition, which was a collection of mid-19th century to early 20th century works from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. There were over 140 masterpieces including works by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Manet. Some of the highlights of the exhibition were Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night" and Alexandre Cabanel's "The Birth of Venus"!

Ryan was pretty intrigued with some of the paintings as you can see from the photos.

This was Cabanel's "The Birth of Venus". Absolutely breathtaking. Ryan was quite absorbed.

This was a Monet. Lovely.

When we got home, I started on the curry chicken. Richard helped me with that - he does like to pitch in and so I usually chop up and prepare all the ingredients while he does the work at the stove. I love curry chicken with potatoes and have been making this dish since I was about 14 years old. Actually, I think every Malaysian loves this dish. I made it less spicy and a little more creamy, as I wasn't sure everyone could take the heat. It used to puzzle me whenever someone asked whether the curry was hot - after all, isn't curry supposed to be hot? Malaysians never ask this question, but I find it quite common in Singapore.

Here's the curry chicken! We served it with bread and it soon became a dry rendang because everyone mopped up the gravy!

At night, I rolled the tang yuan - I must have rolled 500 of them! Ryan helped me and we worked until the wee hours of the morning, making baby tang yuan without filling and bigger tang yuan with gula melaka filling. Richard pottered around, tidying up the house, making sure all the cameras were fully charged and arranging the furniture.

The next day, we overslept and missed Ryan's swimming class! By the time we got out of bed, it was already half-past 11. I quickly chopped up and fried the filling for the spring rolls, letting it cool and drain. I made enough for 50 rolls.

The filling for the spring rolls

We went out to pick up more fresh ingredients as well as the fried noodles (which came with cabbage and fried chicken wings). Then it was off to Shichida class while Richard picked up the yee sang and the porridge (and dough fritters). After class and back home, it was a race to the finish! Teamwork was crucial - Richard went back to the stove to make the sweet soup for the tang yuan, while I cleaned the prawns, sliced chillies for the condiments, rolled the spring rolls, and marinated and chopped up the ingredients for the other dishes. Richard fried the spring rolls and cooked the rest of the dishes while I pottered around preparing everything else and setting the table.

We made it by the skin of our teeth - the families arrived just as Richard was cooking the last dish! I didn't have time to do a few things, like remove the price tags from our new plates/bowls, heat up the porridge and prepare a mini yee sang for the children (I asked Shann to do that by taking a small portion from the main yee sang, while I dashed upstairs for a quick shower). But that was all right. As long as the food was all there, our job was done!

Next post - the party!


Anonymous said...

C and I are wow-ed by the efforts u and Richard put in.
We love the yummy spring rolls and cute koi jellies. :-)


Shann said...

Yummy for all our tummies!!!!! Still thinking about the springroll. And the curry. And the koi fish!

Pinkie Pirate said...

Alicia/Chris, Shann - It was our pleasure! Anyway, you all contributed too so we were just doing our part!

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