Cooking for Chinese New Year 2022

Monday, January 31, 2022

Another CNY is here and here are my cooking notes. This will be the third celebration happening under the shadow of the pandemic. This means that, sadly, I won't be able to celebrate with the Wongs for the third year running at our family home in Petaling Jaya. And with the restriction to 5 unique visitors per day, this will be a quiet CNY here in Singapore.

With limited guests, this also means that we can plan for sit-down dinners and lunches. The concession is that there will be a lot cooking and trying out various festive dishes.

What am I planning to do?

As you will know, the plans have to be made weeks ago and the marketing done beforehand. The menu will keep changing, even up to today. Tweaks being made to ensure an efficient (and delicious) laying out of dishes for successive meals. At the same time, I hope to recreate some our family traditions as CNY meals. Chai Buay or Choi Keok is a must by the 2nd day, the famous Hokkien leftover dish which I have blogged about here.

Chai Buay

I have already start preparing the stocks. The "supreme stock" is for the sauces and the general stock for the soups. The supreme stock is cooked from a whole kampung chicken, half a kg of lean pork and a piece of Chinese or Jinhua ham. It went straight into the pressure cooker and simmered for 2 hours. Then it was finely strained and put into the fridge. The layer of fat will congeal on the top nicely and I will just scoop it up (reserve the lard/fats for other dishes). See the photo below. From here I have the base stock to make the sauces I need. 

The congealed fats can
be easily removed

I was given some giant mushrooms and after a day of dehydrating, it was braised with other smaller mushrooms. I only use some salt and sugar. This gives me flexibility to use the mushrooms for dark soy-based or clear dishes. I plan to serve the large mushrooms in various dishes, including abalones, braised pork belly and broccoli. I will blog the mushroom dish later. 

I have grown some beautiful and tasty Japanese Tang-oh (see photo below) in my hydroponic set up. I will blog about how one may grow vegetables at home in another article. I plan to use them in a clear soup. Tang-Oh hardly needs any cooking. Add them when you are about to serve the soup. 

Tasty Japanes Tang-oh

I have some large prawns in the freezer. Some of them are gifts. I also bought 2 kg of some large ones in the market where prices seem to be least affected by CNY: the Geylang Serai Market. They went for $18 per kg! Following my Mum's tradition it will be cooked "Har Lok" style. I have blogged the recipe here.  

As for the chicken dish, the usual steam chicken (45 minutes) is simple to do. Use a "corn-fed free-running" chicken. I have made the chilli sauce and ginger sauce. My Mum's version for the ginger sauce: pound the garlic and gingers coarsely (I use 3 types: blue, normal and young). Heat up some oil and in a small flame cook the ginger paste for about 5 minutes. Add some sugar and oyster sauce. Switch off the fire and add some chopped coriander leaves. 

Another chicken dish will be the green curry chicken. Yes, this is Nonya and follows my wife and mother-in-law or the Teos' tradition. I will blog the recipe but it is very similar to Nonya curry chicken. Green chillies will be used along with lengkuas (blue ginger) and daun limau perut (kaffir lime leaves). 

And of course, last but not leat, the old favourite, Lo Hon Chai or Chap Chai. Following my mums style, it is cooked in white fermented beancurd (fuyi). Check the recipe here

I hope to put up an article with photos of the dishes. Stay tuned.

And whether you are buying in or cooking your own CNY dishes, do enjoy those moments with you family and God's richest blessings be with you!

This multilevel steamer is very useful.
You can cook the stock below and
steam stuff at the same time

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