Category Archives: General Topics

Spices Substitution

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Ingredients
Amount
Substitute
Allspice
1 teaspoon (tsp)
½ tsp cinnamon plus ½ tsp ground cloves
Apple Pie Spice
1 teaspoon
½ tsp cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg plus 1/8 teaspoon cardamon
Arrowroot Starch
1½ teaspoon
 1 tablespoon flour/1½ tbsp cornstarch 
Baking Powder
1 teaspoon
1/3 tablespoon (tbsp) soda and ½ tablespoon cream of tartar
¼ tbsp baking soda and ½ cup sour milk or buttermilk (decrease liquid called for in recipe by ½ cup)
 ¼ tbsp baking soda and ½ tbsp vinegar or lemon juice used with sweet milk to make ½ cup (decrease liquid called for in recipe by ½ cup)
Baking Powder-double acting
1 teaspoon
¼ tsp baking soda and 5/8 t cream of  tartar
Baking Soda
There is no substitute for baking soda
 Bay Leaf
1 whole leaf 
¼ teaspoon crushed
 Beau Monde
1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon seasoning or seasoning salt,
½ teaspoon salt or
½ teaspoon Mei Yan seasoning
Brandy
¼ cup
1 teaspoon brandy extract plus enough water or liquid called for in recipe to make ¼ cup
Broth, beef or chicken
1 cup
1 bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
1 envelope powdered broth base dissolve in 1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon powdered broth base dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
Butter
1 cup
1 cup margarine
1 cup vegetable shortening (for baking)
1 cup oil can be substituted by a similar amount melted butter if the recipe specifics melted butter
Buttermilk
1 cup
1 tablespoon lemon juice  or vinegar plus enough regular milk to make 1 cup (allow to stand 5 minutes)
Ketchup
1 cup
1 cup tomato sauce, ¼ cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons vinegar (for use in cooking
 Chili Sauce
1 cup
1 cup tomato sauce, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, ¼ teaspoons cinnamon, dash of ground cloves, and dash of allspice.
Chives, finely  chopped
2 teaspoons
2 tsp green onion tops, finely chopped
Chocolate, semi-sweet
1-2/3 ounces
1 oz unsweetened chocolate plus 4 teaspoons sugar
 Chocolate, unsweetened
1 oz or 1 square
3 tbsp carob powder plus 2 tbsp water
Chocolate chips, semisweet
6 oz package (2/3 cup)
2 squares (2oz) unsweetened chocolate plus 2 tablespoons shortening and ½ cup sugar
Cocoa
¼ cup or 4 tbsp
1 oz (square) unsweetened chocolate (decrease fat called for in recipe by ½ tbsp.) 
Cornmeal, self-rising
1 cup
7/8 cup cornmeal,  1½ tablespoons baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt
 Corn Syrup
1 cup
7/8 cup sugar and 2 tbsp  water
7/8  cup honey (baked goods will brown more)
Cornstarch
1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons All-purpose Flour (AP flour)   
2 tablespoons granular tapioca
1 tablespoon arrowroot
Cream, half & half (12-16% fat)
1 cup
7/8 cup milk and 3 tbsp butter or Margarine (for use in cooking and baking)
 1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
Cream, Light (18-20% fat
 1 cup
7/8 cup milk and 3 tablespoons butter or margarine (for use in cooking and baking)
1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
Cream, heavy (36-40% fat)
1 cup
¾ cup milk and 1/3 cup butter margarine (for use in cooking or baking)
Cream, sour
1 cup
7/8 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 cup yogurt
1-1/8 cup powdered nonfat dry milk, ½ cup water, and 1 tablespoon vinegar (mixture will thicken in refrigerator in a few hours)
1 cup evaporated milk plus 1 tablespoon vinegar (allow to stand 5 minutes before using)
1/3 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 cup smooth cottage cheese blended together.
7/8 cup milk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 2 tbsp butter butter or margarine.
Cream, Whipping
1 cup
Not whipped:
If, you wish to use a commercial pre-whipped cream or whipped cream substitute rather than whip your own cream, use the guideline that 1 cup whipping cream expands to 2 cups when whipped.
For example, if your recipe called for 1  cup of cream to make whipped cream, you could substitute 2 cups of an already whipped product.
1 cup chilled evaporated milk plus ½ tsp lemon juice, whipped until stiff.
Dill plant, fresh or dried  
 3 heads
1 tablespoon dill seed
 Eggs, whole, uncooked 1 large
1 cup
¼ cup egg substitute (example include: Egg Beaters, Second Nature, Scramblers)
3 tablespoons and 1 tsp. thawed frozen egg
2½ sifted, dry whole egg powder and 2½ tablespoons lukewarm water
2 egg yolks and 1 tablespoon water (for cookies)
2 egg yolks (in custards, cream fillings, and similar mixtures)
2 whites as a thickening agent
5  large eggs or 6 medium eggs
Egg white, 1 large (2 tbsp) 
2 tablespoons thawed frozen egg white
2 teaspoons sifted, dry egg white powder and 2 tbsp. lukewarm water.
 8 large egg whites
 Egg yolk, 1 yolk (1½ tbsp)
3½ teaspoons thawed frozen egg yolk
2 teaspoons sifted, dry egg
yolk and 2 teaspoons water
Flour, AP (for thickening) 
1 tablespoon
1½ teaspoon cornstarch, arrowroot starch, potato starch, or rice starch.
1 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca
1 tablespoon waxy rice flour
2 tablespoons browned flour
1½ tablespoons whole wheat flour
½ tablespoons whole wheat flour and ½ tablespoon  all-purpose flour
Flour, Cake 1 lb. 1 cup sifted
4¾ cups
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sifted AP flour (7/8 cup)
Flour, Self-rising
1 cup
1 cup minus 2 teaspoons AP flour, 1½ tsp. baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt
Flour, All-Purpose (AP)
1 cup
¾ cup all-purpose flour plus
¼ cup whole wheat flour, in cakes
¾ cup all-purpose flour plus ¼ cup whole wheat flour  
½ cup all[purpose flour plus ½ cup whole wheat flour
volume and a heavier product.
Garlic , 1 clove, small
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Garlic salt
1 teaspoon
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Gelatin, flavored
3 ounces
1 tablespoon plain gelatin and 2 cups fruit juice  
Ginger
1/8 tsp
1 tablespoon candied ginger rinsed in water to remove sugar; then finely cut 1 tbsp. raw ginger
Herbs, fresh chopped
1 tbsp
½ teaspoon dried, crushed herbs
Honey
1 cup
1¼ cup sugar and ¼ cup water
Lemon
1 medium
1 to 3 tablespoons juice
1 to 2 teaspoons grated peel
Lemon juice
1 tsp juice
½ teaspoon vinegar
Lime
1 medium
1½ to 2 tablespoons juice
Marshmallows, miniature
1 cup
10 large marshmallows
Mayonnaise (for use in Salad and salad dressings
1 cup
½ cup yogurt and ½ cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese pureed in a blender
Milk, skim
 1 cup
4 to 5 tablespoons non-fat dry milk powder and enough water to make 1 cup or follow manufacturer’s directions
½ cup evaporated milk and ½ cup water
Milk, whole
1 cup
1 cup reconstituted non-fat dry milk (add 2 tsp butter or margarine, if) desired.
½ cup evaporated milk and ½ cup water
4 tablespoons whole dry milk and 1 cup water (or follow manufacturer’s directions)
1 cup fruit juice or 1 cup potato water (for use in baking)
 Mustard, dry
1 teaspoon
1 tbsp.  prepared mustard
 Onion, fresh
1 small
¼ cup chopped, fresh onion
1-1/3 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon instant minced onions rehydrated
Onion powder
1 tablespoon
1 medium onion, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh chopped onion
Orange peel, dried
1 teaspoon 
2-3 tablespoons grated fresh orange peel (grated peel of 1 medium orange)
1 teaspoon orange extract
Parsley fresh 
 1 tbsp chopped
1 teaspoon dried leafy parsley
Pimiento
2 tbsp dried
1 tbsp. dried red bell pepper, rehydrated
3 tbsp. fresh red bell pepper, chopped
Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 teaspoon
½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ tsp ginger, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg
Shortening, melted
1 cup
1 cup cooking oil (only for recipes that call for melted shortening)
Shortening, solid 
1 cup 
1-1/8 cup unsalted butter
¼ cup shortening plus ¾ cup applesauce, pureed prunes (add with liquid ingredients)**
¼ cup shortening plus ¾ cup ricotta cheese (in yeast breads)**
** Reducing fat will give baked goods a denser texture; to correct for this, try increasing the sugar in the recipe and/or beating the egg whites and folding them into the batter. Also try using a softer flour, like pastry or cake flour.
Sour Cream
1 cup
¾ cup sour milk or buttermilk and 1/3 cup butter or margarine blend until smooth
1/3 cup buttermilk, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 cup smooth cottage cheese
1 cup plain yogurt
¾ cup milk, ¾ tsp. lemon juice and 1/3 butter or margarine
Sugar, brown
 1 cup firmly packed 
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup granulated sugar plus 4 tablespoons molasses, and decrease liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons.
Sugar, granulated 
 1 cup
1½ cup corn syrup (decrease liquid by ¼ cup)
1-1/3 cup molasses (decrease liquid by 1/3 cup)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¾ cup honey (decrease liquid by ¼ cup in baked goods add
½ teaspoon soda
Tapioca, granular
1 teaspoon
2 tablespoon pearl tapioca
Tomato juice
1 cup
½ cup tomato sauce plus ½ cup water
Tomato sauce
2 cups
¾ cup tomato paste plus 1 cup water
 Tomato soup
10¾ ounce can
1 cup tomato sauce plus ¼ cup water
 Wine, Red
Same amount of red grape juice or cranberry juice
Wine, white
Same amount of apple juice or white grape juice
Worcestershire Sauce
 1 teaspoon
1 tsp bottled steak sauce
 Yeast, active dry
 ¼ oz package
2½ teaspoon dry yeast
1 compressed yeast cake
Yogurt, plain
1 cup
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cottage cheese blended until smooth
1 cup sour cream

                                                       From Various Sources

Glossary of Peranakan Terms

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Peranakan Name
Common Name and Description
Acar Timun
Spicy pickled tube and root vegetables
Agar-agar
It is a refined seaweed used in making jelly
Air Kapor
Alkaline water or slaked lime solution
Air Mawar
Rose water made from rose petals
Aniseed
Known as Jintan Manis – it is the seed of the 
Star Anise, use it as a spice
Assam Jawa
Tamarind Pulp with water to produce juice
Assam Keping
Assam Gelugor (Dried tamarind slices)
Bawang Merah
Shallots/very small onions
Bayam
Spinach (Yin Choy)
Belacan
Dried Shrimp Paste
Belimbing
Carambola
Bendi
Okra a.k.a. Ladies’ Fingers
Bihun
Vermicelli (Mai Fun/Bee Hoon)
Biji Kas Kas
Poppy seeds
Biji Lada Hitam
Black peppercorns
Biji Lada Putih
White peppercorns
Biji Sawi
Mustard seeds
Bijian
Sesame seeds (Mah Yow)
Bok Jee
Black fungus (Mok Yee)
Broccoli florets
Kai Lan Fah
Buah Gajus
Cashew nuts
Buah Keloh
Murungakai (Drumstick-a long pod stick,
mainly used in Indian curries)
Buah Keluak
A black colored hard shell fruit filled with dark
meat bears from a Kepayang tree (Pangium Edule)
Buah Keras
Candlenuts – used as a thickening for curries
Buah Pala
Nutmeg
Buah Pelaga
Cardamom
Bunga Cengkeh
Cloves
Bunga Kantan
Ginger bud/flower
Bunga Lawang
Star Anise – A star-shaped spice.
Calamansi
Alike lime
Califlower
Pau Choy Fan
Chap Chai
Mixed Vegetable Dish
Cili Hijau
Fresh green finger chilies
Cili Kering
Dried red chilies
Cili Merah
Fresh red finger chilies
Cili Padi
Bird’s eye chilies
Cincalok
Fermented baby shrimps
Cincau
Black glass jelly (Made from seaweeds)
Cuka
Vinegar
Daging Kambing
Mutton – meat of goat/sheep
Daun Kadok
A special leaves from herbal tree
Daun Kari
Curry leaf (Karuvapillal)
Daun Kesom
Polygonum
Daun Ketumbar
Coriander leaves/cilantro (Wan Swee)
Daun Kuchai
Chives
Daun Kunyit
Turmeric leaves
Daun Limau Perut
Kaffir lime leaves
Daun Pandan
Screwpine leaves (Pandanus)
Daun Pegaga
Leaves of a herbal plant
Daun Pudina
Mint leaves
Daun Selasih
Basil leaves
Foo Chok
Dried beancurd stick
Foo Chok Pei
Dried beancurd sheet
Garam
Salt
Gor Heong Hoon
Five spice powder
Gula Batu
Rock sugar
Gula Melaka
Palm sugar
Gula Pasir
Granulated sugar
Halba
Fenugreek
Halia
Fresh ginger
Ikan Bawal
Pomfret
Ikan Bilis
Anchovies
Ikan Cencaru
Hardtail mackerel
Ikan Kembung
Mullet/Chubb mackerel
Ikan Kurau
Mulloway (Mah Yau Yee)
Ikan Parang
Sai Tou Yee
Ikan Pari
Stingray (Pou Yee)
Ikan Selar
Horse Mackerel
Ikan Sepat
Freshwater fish of the Gourami family
Ikan Tenggiri
Spanish Mackerel/Bonito
Ikan Tongkol
Tunny (Tuna like the Bluefin)
Jering
Pithecellobium Jiringu (Scientific name)
Jintan Manis
Fennel seed
Jintan Putih
Cumin
Kacang Botol
Four-angled bean
Kacang Panjang
Yard long beans
Kailan
Chinese broccoli
Kangkong
Water convolvulus
Kayu Manis
Cinnamon
Kelap Parut
Grated coconut
Kepah
Mussel (Lala)
Kerang
Cockles
Kerisik
Dry fried grated coconut
Ketam
Crab
Ketumbar
Coriander
Kicap Cair
Light soy sauce
Kecap Pekat
Thick soy sauce
Kim Cham
Golden needles (Dried Lily buds)
Kobis
Cabbage
Kunyit Basah
Fresh turmeric root
Lada Hitam
Black pepper
Lada Putih
White pepper
Lengkuas
Galangal
Limau Kasturi
Small lime
Lobak Merah
Carrot (Hoong Loh Bak)
Otak-otak
Grilled fish mousse
Peria
Bitter gourd (Foo Kwa)
Petai
Parkia Sepciosa (Scientific name)
Pulut
Glutinous Rice
Rebung
Bamboo shoots
Saffron
Koma-koma
Sardine
Baby pilchard
Sawi
Mustard Green (Choy Sum/Chai Sim)
Sengkuang
Yam Bean (Bangkuang/Sar Kok)
Serai
Lemon-grass
Sohoon
Glass noodles/transparent noodles (Tanghoon)
Sotong Putih
Squid (Calamari)
Sotong Rendam
Cuttlefish
Tau Chngiu
Fermented soy bean paste
Tau Jee
Fermented red bean curd (Nam Yee)
Tau Joo
Fermented white bean curd (Foo yee)
Taugeh
Bean sprouts
Taukngwa
Lightly fried bean curd cake
Tempe
Fermented soy bean cakes
Tepung Atta
Atta flour (wholemeal flour)
Tepung Beras
Rice flour
Tepung Grandum
All-purpose flour
Tepung Jagung
Corn flour
Tepung Pulut
Glutinous rice flour
Tepung Sagu
Sago flour
Terigu
Wheat grains
Terong
Eggplants (Brinjal/Aubergine)
Tim Chok Pei
Dried sweet beancurd sheet
Timun
Cucumber (Wong kwa)
Ubi Kayu
Tapioca root
Ubi Keladi
Yam (Woo Tau)
Ubi Keledek
Sweet Potato
Ubi Kentang
Potato

Glossary of Dim Sum Dishes

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Dim Sum Names in English Language
Chinese Names
Steamed egg custard bun/Sweet milky bun
奶皇包
Steamed barbecued pork bun
叉燒包
Steamed lotus seed paste and egg yolk bun
蛋黃蓮蓉包
Steamed chicken bun
雞包仔
Steamed vegetable and meat bun
菜肉包
Steamed bun with assorted stuffing/big bun
大包
Steamed Chinese sausage bun
臘腸包
Baked B.B.Q. Pork Bun
焗叉燒餐飽
Steamed vegetarian dumpling
蒸素粉果
Steamed pork dumpling with crabmeat
蟹粉小籠包
Steamed fresh prawn dumpling / Ha-gau
蝦餃
Steamed stuffed dumpling with shrimp/ Siu mai
燒賣
Chui Chow Fan Gor  
潮州蒸粉果
Shrimp Har Gow
蘆尖鮮蝦餃
Steamed Assorted Meat Fun Gor 
娥姐蒸粉果
Scallop & Shrimp Dumpling 
鮮蝦帶子餃
Chicken Shark Fin Dumpling  
雞粒魚翅餃
Steamed dumpling, Chiu Chow-style
潮州粉果
Steamed pork dumpling, Shanghai-style
籠包
Panfried Pot Sticker
香煎菜肉鍋貼
Steamed pork ribs with black bean sauce
豉汁蒸排骨
Steamed chicken feet with black bean sauce
豉汁蒸鳳爪
Steamed fish head with black bean sauce
豉汁蒸魚雲
Steamed beancurd sheet roll
鮮竹卷
Steamed beancurd sheet roll with duck feet
腳扎
Steamed rice flour roll with shredded chicken
雞絲粉卷
Chicken Rice Roll  
滑雞絲粉卷
Spring Egg Roll  
炸韭黃春卷
Shrimp Rice Roll 
鮮蝦腸粉
Beef Rice Roll 
滑牛腸粉
B.B.Q. Pork Rice Cake 
叉燒腸粉
Steamed glutinous rice roll
糯米卷
Steamed Fish Ball  
鮮竹蒸石斑魚球
Deep Fried Shrimp Ball 
酥炸明蝦丸
Steamed minced beef ball
山竹牛肉
Fried Canton Carp Ball 
酥炸鯪魚球
Sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf
糯米雞
Mini-sized sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf
珍珠雞
Steamed Turnip Cake
蘿蔔糕
Pan-Fried Turnip Cake 
腊味蘿蔔糕
Fried Taro Cake 
芙蓉荔竽角
Pan-fried Chive Cake
鮮蝦韭菜餅
Pan-Fried Glue Rice 
生炒糯米飯
Steamed beef omasum with ginger and spring onion
薑蔥牛柏
Braised ox tripe with zhuhou sauce
柱侯金錢肚
Steamed squid with garlic
蒜茸蒸魷魚
Steamed chicken with fish maw
棉花雞
Steamed curry squid
咖哩蒸魷魚
Assorted Meat Wrapped w/ Bamboo Sheet 
蠔王鮮竹捲
Stuffed Bell Pepper 
魚肉釀青椒
Steamed Chicken Bundles  
淮山滑雞札
Stewed Beef Tripe with Turnip 
柱候炆牛雜
Braised Beancurd
炸豆腐
Stuffed Beancurd
炸釀豆腐
Stuffed Eggplant
炸釀茄子
Stir-fry Gai Lan
中國芥藍
Chicken Wing
雞翼
Mango Shrimp Roll
芒果蝦卷
Stuffed Fresh Mushroom 
釀新鮮蘑菇
Stir-fry Glutinous Rice
生炒糯米飯
Porridge
Yao Cha Kwai
油炸鬼
Fry Shrimp on Cane Stick
炸蝦甘蔗
Deep fried wonton
炸雲吞
Rice-in-soup with winter melon and diced pork
冬瓜肉粒湯
Boiled Chinese flowering cabbage
白灼菜心
 Marinated jelly fish
麻香拌海蜇
Sweet Dim Sum
Water Chestnut Cake 
畔塘馬蹄糕
Mango Pudding
芒果布甸
Pineapple Bun
菠蘿包
Red Bean Cake
紅豆糕
Fried Sesame Seed Ball
芝麻球
Steamed Glutinous Rice Cake
糯米池
Baked Taro Pastry
芋頭酥皮點心
Mango sago dessert with pomelo
楊枝甘
Coconut milk yellow bean pudding
椰汁馬豆糕
“Mai-lai” cake
拉糕
Sweet Black Rice Dumpling
雷沙湯圓
Sweet Fry Puff Ball
沙吹蛋糕
Thousand Layer Cake
千層糕
Mouse sweet pastry
老鼠汗水點心
Green Cluster Cake
榴連酥
Red bean dessert/sweet soup
紅豆沙
Mung bean dessert/sweet soup
綠豆
Sweet potato dessert/sweet soup
蕃薯
Sweet Crispy Cake 
蜜汁薩其馬
Steamed Lotus Seed Puree Bun 
蛋黃蓮蓉飽
Coconut Flavor Cake 
椰汁馬豆糕
Steamed White Rice Cake
爽滑白糖糕
Steamed Egg Cream Roll 
奶黃馬拉卷
Sweet Jelly Cake 
伊士曼凍糕
Creamy Egg Yolk Bun 
菠蘿奶王飽
Egg Custard Tart 
雪酥雞蛋塔
Soybean Curd Dessert
豆腐花
Sweet New Year Cake
年糕

Fifteen Day of Chinese Lunar New Year

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Yuan Xiao Jie
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Today will be Yuan Xiao Jie, the first full moon of the New Year. It is also known as “lantern festival” because during the old practice of having colorful lanterns, displays and parades were introduced during the Tang Dynasty. It is also believed that Yuanxiao is named after a palace maid, Yuanxiao, of Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty. Young and unmarried Buddhists and Taoists generally will make a point to visit the temples on this day because they believe that the full moon is associated with romance and marriages. Yuan Xiao also has a special significance for people who are in love.

Every Chinese household will be celebrating this day with a small gathering for dinner together once again, but this time any family members that are unable to attend are excusable. The dinner is still served with traditional food but it does not have to be grand unless the family is wealthy. After dinner the unmarried ones will visit the gardens/Chinatowns . Here the display of lanterns or parades are organized by Chinese Associations or Organizations to mark the occasion and will also give a chance for unmarried guys to catch a glimpse of unmarried girls strolling thru the lantern displays. It is also believed that both sexes are hoping to meet some potential mates to marry.
Yuan Xiao Jie also marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations. On this day Chinese families will eat the traditional snack, Glutinous Rice Dumplings (Tangyuan) Its pronunciation is synonymous with “Tangyuan” which means Reunion – symbolizing togetherness and happiness for the family. This year the Yuan Xiao Jie or last day of Chinese New Year is on Thursday, February 17, 2011 and once again I am unable to celebrate on a weekday as Kim and Balbir are not able to be home on time for dinner. I will be celebrating this festival this coming Saturday, February 12, 2011 with a couple of friends to join us at our dining table. I am going to entertain my family and friends with:

YUAN XIAO JIE MENU

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STARTER

Or Luak (Teochew-style Oyster Egg Omelet)

APPETIZER

Moo Shu Vegetable with Pancake

ENTREE

Fried Garlic Shrimp

Fried Ham & Chicken Rolls

Singapore Mei Fun

Stir-fry Assorted Vegetables with Mushrooms

DESSERTS

Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Red Bean Paste

Fried Nian Gao (Fried Chinese New Year Cake)

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Chinese Lunar New Year 2011

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Happy Chinese New Year 2011
新年快樂
Chinese New Year is also known as the “Spring Festival”. It is a very auspicious day and a major holiday for the Chinese in East Asia and in Chinese communities around the world. The celebration is 15 days long, and each year the date changes. Well, the Chinese calendar is a combination solar/lunar calendar, based on exact astronomical calculations of the new moon and the longitude of the sun. This year Chinese New Year falls on February 3rd 2011 (English calendar version) and February 3rd 4708 (Chinese calendar version). The Chinese Zodiac Animal for this year is “White Metal Rabbit”. The Rabbit year begins February 3rd 2011 and ends January 22, 2012. So, if a child is born on or within this period their animal sign will be “White Metal Rabbit”. Next year January 23, 2012, we will welcome the “Year of the Dragon”.

Before ushering in the New Year, every household will give their house a big spring cleaning. So start off the Chinese New Year with a clean house. Symbolically, you are cleaning all the bad luck and evil spirits remaining from last year out of your home. For the rich, they buy new window treatments, get new bed sheets for their beds, painting the interior of the house and many more things. So once the New Year arrives (February 3rd, 2011), you should not do any cleaning, not even sweeping/vacuuming the floor because you might sweep out the good luck you have usher in. A few days before the New Year arrives every adult and kid has to get their hair groomed and buy a set of new clothes to wear on New Year’s Day.

On the eve of Chinese New Year every household will have Reunion Dinner at their own home or their parents and elders home. The Family Reunion Dinner is a very important occasion as the Chinese believe that the family should be gathered together as one united family and usher in the New Year together. It is quite similar to the West’s Thanksgiving Dinner. In China, people travel from where they work and rush back to their hometown to join the family/families for this auspicious dinner. The host will prepare traditional dishes to be eaten on this dinner for the family members to usher the New Year. Each traditional dish that is chosen often represents a sort of symbolism/their luxury status. The Chinese believe eating good food helps promote harmony and closeness between family and friends.

On New Year’s Day morning everyone will get up very early and put on their best outfits and get ready to visit grandparents and elder relatives are to remind all the younger generations to honor and respect their older. During this day, elders and married couples will give “Ang Pow (Red Packet)” to children and young adults who are not married. Also employers will give bonuses to their employees in red packets. If you need to give tips to your service people, like postmen, hairdressers, or baby sitters to name a few, you give them red packets. Giving symbolizes prosperity.

If you live close to a Chinatown in the States, then you might be able to see how the Chinese communities here celebrate their New Year. You will see a lot of the usual food, trinkets and decoration materials. You can even see a Chinese New Year parade with lion and dragon dancers. New York Chinatown is quite a distance from where I live and if you are willing to spend 3 hours round trip travelling you will be able to see and celebrate with the locals there.

Every year, I invite some friends to our home to join us for Reunion Dinner together to usher the New Year. I cook 12 courses of traditional dishes for the dinner like Soon Kuey – representing gold ingots, Spring Rolls (Chunzhuan) – representing gold bullion, Fried Noodles – close ties and longevity, Teochew Steamed Fish – very important to serve whole as to symbolize togetherness, Oysters (Haosi) – In Chinese the word homonym “Good Things” so the dish is Prosperity Oysters with Mushroom and Fried meat balls – reunion and togetherness. A week before New Year’s Day I bake Pineapple Tarts, Nian Gao (New Year Cake), steamed Huat Kuih, and Teochew “Mua Chi” with crushed peanuts is a must. Some others are Kuih Bangkits, Kuih Dadar, Kuih Kapit (Love Letters) and Deep Fried Golden Balls just to name a few. You will notice that I have many nonya desserts as I come from a Teochew Peranakan family.

This year I am going to add a few more dishes such as Duck & Salted Vegetable Soup, Black & White Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce, Stewed Pork Shoulder, Spicy & Hot Shrimps, Peranakan Fried Rice and Sauteed Scallops with Kai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) and also more desserts such as Glutinous Rice Balls Soup and Chendol.

Hope some of my dishes can help you prepare your Reunion Dinner a little easier.

May I take this opportunity to wish you and your family “A Happy & Prosperous Chinese New Year”.

My CLNY Reunion Dinner Menu

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Chinese Lunar New Year Reunion Menu
January 29, 2011
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APPETIZER
Pu Pu Platter

STARTERKiam Chai Terh Kut (Pork Ribs & Salted Cabbage Soup)
ENTREESKai Lan with Shitake in Oyster Sauce
Fried Mee and Char Siew (Longevity Noodles)
Steamed Tile Fish with Ginger and Sour Plum
Mandarin Chicken
Braised Pork Shoulder Teochew StyleNonya Style Chicken CurrySweet & Spicy Fried ShrimpSaute Scallops with Asparagus in Garlic Sauce
DESSERTSPineapple Tarts & Kuih BangkitKuih Kapit & Ohr Nee