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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Chinese New Year

I have a friend in Seattle that is from Malaysia.  Every year she makes the long haul back to Malaysia to celebrate CNY with her family. When I first heard this, I wondered why would you go back for CNY, isn't it just a  new year celebration?  As I hear more from her about the food, traditions, etc that is involved in CNY, I start to understand why she does it.  It is like if you did not show up your family's traditional family gathering with a casserole in hand and wearing some tacky Christmas sweater, you just might be disowned from the family.

So even tho she makes the long journey to celebrate this yearly event with her family, and spends time cooking while she is there, she still manages to come back home and continue the celebration with her American friends.  If she is wanting to have people over while still jet lagged, and serve them traditional CNY foods, then who am I to stop her.  My belly is hungry, and I am always willing to try new foods.  So here we go.  This is what I ate for CNY 2014:

Murukku - now these were very tasty.  It is like eating a bag of potato chips with a little bit if a spice, and you just can't eat one
Prawn roll  - these by far not my favorite.  They were a little too salty and too fishy tasting for my taste 
Love Letters/Kuih Kapit  - A nice simple, a little sweet, very crumbly (lucky I had a dog near by to vacuum up the crumbs for me) tasty little treat after some of the savory snacks.
Yusheng -  this salad does not look like much, but it is so tasty and filling.  It is apparently to have a really good shredder to make the salad.  We had raw salmon and jelly fish to add to the salad.  I have never had raw jelly fish.  It doesn't look very appetizing, but it actually is not too bad.  It does not have much taste, but has a bit of a crunch.  This is why it is added to the salad. The salad is mixed together by everyone at the table.  The higher you toss the salad the better your luck will be for the year.

So go seek out friends from Asia that love to cook these traditional meals or find a restaurant that might cook up some traditional CNY fare. 

When putting the yu sheng on the table offers New Year greetings.
恭喜发财 (Gong Xi Fa Cai) meaning “Congratulations for your wealth” 万事如意 (Wan Shi Ru Yi) meaning “May all your wishes be fulfilled”
The fish is added, symbolising abundance and excess through the year. 年年有余 (Nian Nian You Yu) meaning “Abundance through the year”, as the word "fish" in Mandarin also sounds like "Abundance".
The pomelo or lime is added to the fish, adding luck and auspicious value. 大吉大利 Da Ji Da Li meaning “Good luck and smooth sailing”
Pepper is then dashed over in the hope of attracting more money and valuables. 招财进宝 Zhao Cai Jin Bao meaning “Attract wealth and treasures”
Then oil is poured out, circling the ingredients and encouraging money to flow in from all directions. 一本万利 Yi Ben Wan Li meaning “Make 10,000 times of profit with your capital” 财源广进 Cai Yuan Guang Jin meaning “Numerous sources of wealth”
Carrots are added indicating blessings of good luck. 鸿运当头 Hong Yun Dang Tou meaning “Good luck is approaching”. Carrot (红萝卜) is used as the first character 鸿 also sound like the Chinese character for red.
Then the shredded green radish is placed symbolising eternal youth. 青春常驻 Qing Chun Chang Zhu meaning “Forever young”. Green radish is used as the first character 青 also sound like the Chinese character for green.
After which the shredded white radish is added - prosperity in business and promotion at work. 风生水起 Feng Sheng Shui Qi meaning “Progress at a fast pace” 步步高升 Bu Bu Gao Sheng meaning “Reaching higher level with each step”
The condiments are finally added.
First, peanut crumbs are dusted on the dish, symbolizing a household filled with gold and silver. 金银满屋 Jin Yin Man Wu meaning “Household filled with gold and silver”
Sesame seeds quickly follow symbolising a flourishing business. 生意兴隆 Sheng Yi Xing Long meaning “Prosperity for the business”
Yu Sheng sauce, usually plum sauce, is generously drizzled over everything. 甜甜蜜蜜 Tian Tian Mi Mi Meaning “May life always be sweet”[16]
Deep-fried flour crisps in the shape of golden pillows is then added with wishes that literally the whole floor would be filled with gold. 满地黄金 Man Di Huang Jin meaning “Floor full of gold”

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