Beginner’s Choice: Family, Friends and the Tiger

The Eve of the Lunar New Year is the only time in the year that the streets are quiet at night. Most people are home for the Reunion Dinner. I suppose it’s like Thanksgiving Dinner.

I asked around to see what friends were planning for their reunion dinner, most said: “Steamboat. It’s the simplest!” Well, I discovered that it might be simple in theory, but a lot of preparation is involved. Some ingredients, like the vegetables, have to be fresh, so there is last minute shopping to be done, and that is when the queues at the supermarkets are the longest ever. Timing is crucial to getting everything ready on time.

According to my mother, the dipping sauces are the most important ingredient of a good steamboat. We went hunting for some Japanese sauces she had in mind. We finally found them in a Japanese supermarket. We also found some Japanese jelly-fish, which my mother thought would be good to put in this year’s lo hei salad, for a change. It did go down well, or rather, it went up well, as the salad was tossed for good luck and prosperity. There was still raw fish for dinner, but in the form of sushi.   

Since it’s the year of the Tiger, there was a lot of creativity around making a tiger with the lo hei salad ingredients. 

Friends have been sending photos of their Tiger lo hei salad. We all agreed that it’s fairly easy to make a tiger. Some animals lend themselves to vegetable art more than others.

Being away from home was more reason for Anne Lise to bake this year. She baked cookies to share with other students. It’s hard to imagine celebrating Chinese New Year without pineapple tarts.  Black sesame cookies are more unusual. Anne Lise paired pineapple tarts with black sesame cookies, and they were a perfect match. For students away from home, to receive cookies so professionally baked and packed by friends was probably a heart-warming experience. Cookies are capable of conveying a taste of home.

Cathy wanted to share photos of the traditional Peranakan Lunar New Year Feast which her sister, who is in her eighties, prepared: Noryang rolls (in featured image), Nonya Buahkalas with chicken, soup with pig tendons, intestine and abalone, and Nonya achar. Cathy has been encouraging her sister to make Nonya achar (pickles) for gifts. Cooking these traditional dishes is a way of preserving the Peranakan culture, and a great way to stay active.  Peranakan ladies are well-known for their culinary skills. Cathy makes very good nonya chili sauce!

Irene sent photos of her sourdough bread which she baked with great joy. Well, she not only sent the photos, she also sent the bread, and even taught Angie, Carmen and me to make it, to ensure that we have an abundance of bread throughout the year.

Thank you to Anne Lise, Cathy and Irene and to all who sent photos of the Tiger Lo Hei salad.

Enjoy the rest of the Lunar New Year and have a great week ahead.

By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 6 February 2022

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