Eat what, Eat where?: Happy 'Niu' Year

For a third year in a row, we stayed put in KL for our Chinese New Year (CNY) reunion dinner.  This time, it was due to the Covid-19 pandemic with no interstate travel allowed.  It was a reunion dinner that almost didn't happen.  Luckily, the SOP for the CNY reunion makan was revised (due to the backlash from the Chinese community) to accommodate up to 15 family members who stay within a 10km radius.

Unfortunately, the revision was made so last minute (just a few days before the eve of CNY) that I (perhaps others too) weren't prepared for it.  Since I was resigned to eating within the same household only, I didn't even bother to stock up my fridge (with special, premium foodstuff).  I thought we would just have a very simple dinner that's no different from our every day meal.
I also didn't want to scramble and jostle with the crowd which I expected will throng the wet markets and supermarkets doing last minute shopping because of the announcement (and I was right).  So, we had to quickly devise a meal plan with what we had.  These were the makeshift dishes that made it to our reunion table this year at my sister-in-law's house (kudos to her again for being so rajin to put up CNY decor).

#1 - Yee Sang

As usual, it's common to start with the tossing of yee sang to usher in prosperity and health for the coming year (God knows we need it during a year ravaged by the pandemic).  A sister-in-law bought this from a restaurant in our neighbourhood, Esquire Kitchen.
And no, we did not deem it necessary to follow Singapore's SOP for tossing yee sang!  What is lo hei without uttering ox-picious phrases, right? ;P

#2 - Braised Mushrooms with Abalone & Dried Scallop

This was probably the most luxurious of all the dishes we had.  Luckily I was still able to cook this as I had (gifts of) dried mushrooms and cans of abalone (and I had dried scallops and frozen choi yin kai bones in my fridge).  I just had to get some broccoli.  I decided to do a little bit of extra work for a nicer presentation.

#3 - Soy Sauce Prawns

My sister-in-law cooked her soy sauce prawns (and they were huge ones) again this year but this time I noticed the prawn heads were intact (unlike last year)....hee..hee! ;)

#4 - Steamed Pork Belly with Yam (Wu Tau Kau Yuk)

My other sister-in-law bought a few frozen ready-made dishes initially for their own family consumption. Among them was this dish of Hakka wu tau kau yuk.  This is usually made with red fermented beancurd but the sauce of this one was more on the brownish side.  I don't know if the pork belly was tender enough as I only ate the soft yam.

#5 - Curry Pork Ribs

This was another ready-cooked dish that was bought (my sis-in-law even got an ong lai plate to serve it on)  The pork ribs were tender (loved the chunky potatoes).  The curry tasted somewhat like Ipoh curry mee where the curry powder is much stronger.

#6 - Fried Lor Bak

This fried five-spice meat (pork) rolls was the final dish that was bought.  These ready-made frozen dishes come in real handy as all it needs is reheating which means you don't have to slave in the kitchen to put something on the table.

#7 - Stir-Fried Leeks with Lap Cheong

I decided to cook an extra dish of leeks since it symbolises wealth (sounds like counting lots of money in Mandarin).  I noted that most recipes seem to stir-fry it with lap cheong (another auspicious ingredient), so I followed suit.  This was the first time I fried leeks and I have to say it turned out pretty delicious.  I enjoyed it so much I cooked it again for our own family dinner.
And that was our simple reunion dinner menu hastily put together thanks to the last minute decision of our government to relax the SOP for reunion dinners.  This year, there were no leftovers.  We finished everything...and that's because the dishes are much smaller portions bought as a result of thinking that we'd be eating within the confines of our own home.
It may have been a much simpler affair compared to previous years due to the pandemic and last minute announcement but we should be thankful that we were (finally) allowed to carry on with this all important cultural tradition of having a reunion dinner.

CNY is a time for celebration with family and we don't really need to forego it if no inter-district travel is involved.  After all, they're our close family members and we should trust them enough to keep themselves and everyone else safe.  Hope you had a nice, intimate gathering with your closed family members too. Happy 'Niu' Year one and all! ^.^

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