Cooking Notes: Preparing for the CNY Reunion Dinner (2015)

Monday, February 16, 2015

As I do not normally cook some of the CNY dishes, it is good to take down cooking notes. If it helps you to know what I am doing, it may give you some some ideas.

Planning for a meal up in Petaling Jaya (PJ) can be a challenge, especially if it is a kitchen which I am less familiar with. We are already in communication and various foodstuff is being bought or prepared, whether from Singapore, Ipoh or PJ.

This is what is being prepared for Reunion and rest of CNY:

Sio Bak (Roast Pork)

Using the Sous Vide method is convenient for this. I will SV the cuts (72˚C for 6 hours), freeze it and take it up to PJ. On the day of the dinner, I will dry the skin and then blast it in the grill. Sio Bak is versatile: it can be eaten as is on reunion dinner. Leftovers can be stir-fried in black sauce or used for Chai Buey (or "Choi Keok") on the 1st or 2nd day, a family favourite.

Steamed Chicken

We are using some large Anxins or "Kampung Chicken" for this. You should be able to find these in NTUC or your usual wet market. Will rub some salt and plain steam for about 40 minutes. I will prepare the ginger dipping sauce beforehand. For the sauce, blend some good ginger. I bought some Bentong ginger for $5 per kilo - cheap! Heat up sesame oil and fry the ginger for a few minutes. Then add some coriander stems and leafs. Season with some oyster sauce and sugar. As for the fresh chilli sauce, blend fresh chillies. Add some chilli padis for the oomph.

Har Lok (Fried River Prawns in Black Bean sauce)

My brother in Ipoh has bought some frozen ones. All wild and fresh ones (i.e. photo above) have been bought up by the restaurants, who will of course be cooking for many families who are not cooking at home. Dang. Frozen ones are better than nothing. Deep frying the prawns first on the day itself. Then before serving, will prepare the sauce and add the prawns back in. Recipe here.

Treasure dish 

So what treasures do I have this year? Fish Maw, Mushrooms, Hou See (dried oysters), dried scallops, sea asparagus, pacific clams and black moss. I did not receive any abalone this year but that is fine. Food tastes better when you know you are not eating gold.

I have prepared the "slightly superior" stock. One whole chicken, remove the skin and fats. A bunch of chicken feet, some lean pork meat and a piece of yunnan ham. Pressure cook for an hour. Then strain and reduce further. Freeze for the trip up.

Mushrooms are braised before hand. Also the dried scallops. The canned foodstuff can be steamed in the can. Arrange nicely on a large plate pen chai style. Prepare and thicken the sauce (I hope to keep it translucent) using some lard and will pour on the plate just before serving. As for the greens, likely using some nice cauliflowers from Taiwan but the traditional broccoli may go better. Blanch first and arrange on the plate. Should be fine.

I find this to be the best way to prepare dried scallops: Give it a cold wash in a bowl of water to wash off debris etc. Then steam it in some water. Gentle for an hour. Set aside for use later. 
Lard - this oil is golden in every sense of that word. 
Steamed Wax Meat
I have some nice Hong Kong ones. Steaming it whole. Will remove skin and slice.

Roast Duck 

This I googled from the Net. Cooking this? In my dreams, at least, not yet.
I am going hunting on the day itself to shoot down a wild duck. And then I will hang it dry, drain the blood and prep it for braising with herbs. After braising, I will hang it again to dry the skin. Then I have to carefully blanch and school to to tighten the skin. Then I will deep fry it carefully, ensuring the skin is superb and crispy. And then....

I forgot.

I did ask my brother to buy a couple of roast ducks from Ipoh. Come to think of it, it is a whole lot easier to buy it in. After all, I need some time to enjoy some KL Hokkien Mee.

And the rest...

Chap Chye will be cooked by my sister-in-law. Hakka fried pork will appear on the second day maybe. Possibly also some wok-braised spare ribs, which has become my favourite way of cooking flavoured spare ribs.


Have a blessed Chinese New Year and remember that family comes first. That is, after you have eaten your favourite dish. And go easy on the Bak Kwas. But that will be asking Germans to go easy on Pork Knuckles and Beer during their Oktoberfest.

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  1. Happy Chinese New Year to you and your family. Great blog

  2. I see some dried scallops falling apart. You may want to deep fry them before steaming. This should keep them in shape. Aesthtic appeal.

  3. Thank you for your tip on scallops.