[Sca-cooks] OOP: Tentative Lunar New Year Menu

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Tue Jan 20 09:44:11 PST 2009

Hullo, the List!

It's that time of year again. The Year of the Ox is approaching, which  
is also the year that corresponds to my astrological sign. People have  
asked at various times for our proposed Lunar New Year menu to be  
posted, so here it is. Once again, we're trying to simplify things as  
best we can, since there's more to this holiday for us than the  
preparation of food. Between that and years of tradition, both within  
our family and from a broader cultural base, you'll see a lot of The  
Usual Suspects, but there may be changes, additions or subtractions by  
the time the day arrives (sundown, Sunday).

As usual, we tend to go offline for about 24 hours, from sundown to  

Sunday Night Dinner

-- *Fried Fish (2, whatever looks good on the day)
-- *Steamed Chinese Sausages (in theory, two, but multiples of two are  
-- Soup (probably chicken with dried longans this year)
-- Poached Chicken with ginger-scallion oil (we may break down and buy  
-- *Steamed Black Mushrooms With Shrimp and Pork Stuffing
-- *Possibly Another Shrimp Dish To Be Named Later
-- Blanched Green Vegetable (again, whatever looks good at the market  
on Saturday or Sunday)
-- Steamed White Rice
-- Fruit

[*Prepared before sundown, but not eaten until the next day.  
Everything else prepared in sufficient quantities for two days or so]

Breakfast, lunch, and any daytime snacking tend to consist of keeping  
a steamer and a pot of boiling water going, so anyone present can  
throw in dumplings, noodles for soup, etc., plus fruit, nuts, and moon  
cakes, which aren't traditional, but which my lady wife likes, so  
how's that for an imperative (we generally get the ones filled with  
lotus seeds and two salted egg yolks per cake). Spring rolls may or  
may not put in an appearance.

Monday Dinner

-- Jai/ Buddhist Delight (if we haven't, by this time, made spring  
rolls previously, this could end up as spring roll filling) -- mixed  
vegetables, cellophane noodles, shredded bean curd sheets, with black  
mushrooms, dried shrimp and scallops, braised in oyster sauce
-- Fried Fish (probably reheated and served with sweet-and-sour sauce  
with mixed ginger pickles)
-- Steamed Lop-cheung (sweet, red sausages flavored with hoisin and  
vodka, usually)
-- Soy-Sauce Chicken (again, we may break down and buy this, and the  
poached chicken, at one of the local Chinese restaurants/shops that  
sell cooked meats)
-- Poached Chicken and Ham Phoenix Platter (this is just a pretty  
presentation for the ham and chicken, possibly with extra stuff added  
on whim)
-- Twice-Cooked Five-Flower Pork (Braised, Sliced Pork Belly stir- 
fried with sweet peppers, garlic, booze and fermented bean paste)
-- Five-Spice Beef (braised, boneless knuckle/shin meat with tendons,  
cold, sliced, think Chinese Pot Roast)
-- Iron Steak (pounded, marinated steak slices, in this case  
tenderloin since the freezer is full of it, quickly deep-fried, then  
stir-fried with oyster sauce, mushrooms and too many Vidalia onions...)
-- Lobster -- or prawns, again, depending on what looks good --  
Cantonese (stir-fried and served with oyster sauce laced with  
fermented black beans, ground pork, and egg) (I'm pushing for lobster;  
prices are down, the lobstermen are hurting, and this being the time  
for repairing bruised karma, I'm willing to spend a bit on this,  
within reason)
-- Soup from previous night
-- Steamed Black Mushrooms from previous night
-- Steamed Rice 
--Boiled Egg Vermicelli
-- Fruit, Nuts, Pastries

Tea and coffee will surely be going all day, with judicious amounts of  
beer, wine, single malt, and a for-some-reason-urgently-craved pitcher  
of martinis, putting in appearances later.

If, for any reason, this is not enough food, we'll have a freezer full  
of dumplings, and I'll make up some bacon-wrapped shrimp for frying or  
broiling. If I have deep-frying oil going anyway, there probably will  
be spring rolls, but I'd prefer to get the frying out of the way as  
early in the day as possible.

You may note a comparative lack of small-cut foods and stir-fried  
vegetables:  although they're assumed to be typical of Chinese cookery  
the rest of the year, there are what amount to taboos against these  
things for the New Year celebration for some Southern Chinese. A  
simplistic expression of the rule is that at the New Year, cooking  
should not make loud, angry noises, so foods are sliced, not chopped,  
and things are simmered, braised, steamed or grilled, more often than  
they're stir-fried. But the usual suspects are there: fish for health,  
healing and general regeneration, shrimp for laughter (Chinese  
dialects are full of puns, har de har-har), beef for strength,  
preserved pork for overall lasting prosperity, golden chicken and  
round, coin-shaped foods for wealth, eggs, fruits and seeds for  
fertility. Foods are prominently garnished with fat toy seaweed, whose  
name in written Chinese uses the same characters as the expression for  
good fortune and prosperity.

As always, we're cleaning the house top to bottom, paying debts,  
settling arguments, and closing, as much as possible, the books on the  
old year. We don't actively invite anyone over to share in our karma  
for the next year, but anyone who does so is welcome to leave their  
troubles outside the door.

Happy New Year to one and all!


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