Sunday, January 25, 2009

Eve of CNY

Posted by Dawn at Sunday, January 25, 2009
Today, had steamboat for lunch at my mum-in-law's place with the whole family. The highlight was the salmon head which is not a common steamboat dish but it was absolutely delicious and sweet.

At night, went to my mum's place for reunion dinner. Thankfully, she didnt prepare steamboat, if not, I would have eaten steamboat 3 times in a row. What she did, for the first time, is "Pen Cai" (A Basin of Goodies). It is not a traditional CNY dish but the story behind this dish is meaningful for the new year, I feel- the spirit of sharing,generosity and cohesiveness.

This dish was invented when Mongol troops invaded Song China. To feed the fleeing Emperor who escaped to Guangdong, the locals collected all their best food available. After cooking it, they put it in wooden washing basins as there wasn’t a bowl big enough for the army, coiling the term ‘pen cai’ (vegetables in a basin).

There are no hard and fast rules as to what ingredients go in as it can be anything under the sun, ranging from yam or tapioca to ginseng, abalone, beancurd etc. Most common ingredients that people would put is duck, chicken, ham, dried scallops, mushrooms, dried oyster etc.

The main difficulty to this dish is not cooking (since you simply throw everything in and stew) but is in presenting it as every ingredient has to be layered and stacked up properly.



Chicken and duck meat are usually placed on the top, implying that birds return to the nests. Though those who know would reach for the bottom where the gravy trickles over the ingredients.





My mum also prepared egg noodles which was cooked to the right texture. Eating the noodles with the pen cai gravy was heavenly.

We also had Lo Hei,



"Kombak" pau (braised pork belly with bun)




Both Janine and Caleb had a whopping great time playing with the Lo Hei.



We also had a birthday celebration for CT and Janine. Janine's birthday is 2 days after CT.

Guess it is not a good idea to celebrate together as Janine would be the star instead. Haha..Even the cake says it all!



To allow CT to have his own cake, my mum took out a cake which her friend baked for her and started decorating it for CT so that he would have a candle to blow. It was pathetically hilarious.



And Janine had her go at cutting the cake..here's the result.



What an enjoyable celebration! Thanks mum for preparing.

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