[Sca-cooks] Once again, Tentative New Year's Menus

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sat Feb 2 17:51:47 PST 2008

Hullo, the list!

As some of you may know, this has been kind of a rough year for my  
family, with an assortment of major life changes, aches and pains, and  
a whole lot of still-pending reorganization of our lives and living  

So, after having thought about it and discussed with She Who Must be  
Obeyed my feeling that we probably didn't want to make a big deal of  
the Lunar New Year this time around, we are naturally making a big  
deal of the Lunar New Year.

Next year, I can see. My astrological cycle begins (IOW, it's my birth  
year, the year of the Ox, begins next year around this time), it's  
supposed to be a good year for me, no more bloody mortgages, a  
presidential inauguration in the same week as New Year's _and_ my  
birthday, a new stadium being built for My Bums and their new monster  
pitcher, Evil Spawn graduates from high school, various family medical  
decisions will have been finalized and acted upon, so we're probably  
looking at a banner year, so of course we have to be prepared for the  
Party of the Century.

But this year, I am informed we're going to have a Happy *&#%^@ New  
Year or Die Trying, Darnit. It's conceivable there may be just  
slightly less scrubbing of bathroom tile grout with a toothbrush than  
usual, but we'll do our best.

Well, okay, this being an executive decision and me being something of  
a grunt, I have just been informed by the Powers That Be of our  
tentative menus for New Year's Eve (which rarely changes much as the  
dishes are traditional, symbolic and rather formulaic) and New Year's  
Day, which usually has some things in common with the menus of other  
years, but does change somewhat. As always, the claim is that we're  
planning on things being very modular, very conducive to advance prep,  
and less labor intensive than the year before.

Of course, we lie.

So, we're looking at (more or less, give or take, plus or minus):

Wednesday Night (the New Year arrives with the rising of the new moon  
at 10:46 PM, our time, but we just use sundown as our guide) --

	-Corn Egg-flower Soup with Crab or Chicken Velvet Dumplings  
(undecided which)
	-Poached Chicken with dipping sauces (this may morph into salt-baked  
	-The Usual Fried Fish (2 large, Whole, species TBD)
	-Steamed Lop Cheung (sweet Chinese sausages)
	-Some Kinda Shrimp Dish, TBD, been thinking of steaming in Xiaoxing  
	-Blanched Green Veg, anything from Broccoli to Bok Toy to Watercress

Thursday, a.k.a. "New Year's Day" --

	-Dried Bean Curd And Black Mushroom Soup
	-Phoenix Platter of Ham Slices and Poached Chicken, more dipping sauces
	-Soy Sauce Chicken
	-Five-Spice Beef (boneless shin with tendon intact, a.k.a. cold  
Chinese Pot Roast)
	-Vegetarian Roast Duck (stuffed, braised beancurd sheets)
	-Jai -- a.k.a. Buddhist Delight, this year alleged to include dried  
scallops and oysters with the traditional vegetables and cellophane  
	-Spring Rolls (sometimes we cheat and sneak jai into spring roll  
wrappers and fry them, then everyone eats the jai instead of staring  
at it ;-)  )
	-Twice-Cooked Pork Belly (already cooked once), this could become  
Sweet And Sour Pork depending on my mood, in which case it would be  
the Real Deal with pickled ginger in the sauce, not that baby-aspirin- 
looking stuff. Cantonese people tend to find Sweet And Sour Pork  
screamingly funny, anyway, since you're supposed to use fish unless  
you're a barbarian... I, of course, am an unabashed barbarian in  
certain respects
	-Shrimp With Lobster Sauce -- once again, we've been hoodwinked, and  
this is very different, and much better, than the phlegmy-looking  
stuff you see in restaurants. This is a rather piquant black bean (as  
in fermented soybeans, not frijoles negros) sauce with ginger, garlic,  
shallots, dried chili flakes if I can sneak them in, fatty ground  
pork, and eggs stirred in at the end. Ceandra requested this one. I am  
holding out for...
	-Barbecued Prawns in Garlic Hoisin Sauce. 'Nuff said. We'll probably  
do both.
	-Steamed Seafood Lion's Heads (basically mixed seafood meatballs,  
with water chestnuts, black mushrooms, shrimp, fish, etc.)
	-The Usual Battery of Pickled Vegetable Relish-y things: shallots,  
pickled bamboo shoots in chili oil, gherkins in soy sauce, ginger  
pickles, pickled shallots and shrimp (this is actually a Vietnamese  
thing, but we like them)
	-The Usual Battery of Fresh and Canned Fruits, with almond and/or  
mango "tofu", which is really an agar-based jelly...

Beer, Chinese tea, and Real Coffee will be available all day, and we  
might even have some of that nasty sweet bubbly stuff some people  

Usually what happens is we prepare all this, and may not actually  
finish and serve everything unless lots of people are present and  
don't actually seem about to burst into tears at the thought of more  
food. There's an unsubstantiated rumor of fresh, raw, local Long  
Island oysters arriving on my doorstep on Thursday afternoon. If that  
happens, I'm going to have to suffer through it, bite the bullet, and  
eat them. The things we must do for our art...

As usual, we don't really invite anybody, we don't turn anybody away,  
anybody coming through the door leaves their troubles outside, and  
more or less agrees to share our kharma for a year. It's always worked  
out splendidly.

Traditionally, we tend to not be online, respond to e-mails, or pick  
up the phone between sundown Wednesday and sundown Thursday, so if I  
don't speak to you all before then, Happy New Year!


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