After taking a nice, relaxing, month-long breather from the back-to-back celebrations, I kind of found myself raring to get back into the kitchen. Not that I haven’t been spending any time in the kitchen – I’ve actually been cooking more these past few weeks – just that there’s something about preparing food for a celebration that gets me real stoked. Good thing we’ve got just the celebration coming up with the upcoming Chinese New Year.
Kung Hei Fat Choi! Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year! However you want to say it, you can bet that everyone everywhere knows what it means; Tikoy, Dragon Dance parades, firecrackers, and great great GREAT food.
Looks like we’ll be ringing in the Chinese New Year earlier than usual this year too – as February 8, a Monday, marks the start of the Year of the Monkey. The date, of course, changes from year to year as the date is based on the Chinese lunar calendar, and not our more commonly-used Gregorian calendar.
I remember one Chinese New Year that I got to spend in Chinatown in Manila a few years back. As expected, the place was brightly lit with dazzling lights and colorful lanterns, and people dancing and rejoicing every which way you looked. You could hear the lively popping of firecrackers in the distance, and the faint smell of scrumptious food from all over. I had my hand in getting a lion dance to eat up a tiny ball of cabbage I held up on a piece of string from the second story of my friends’ place, which was believed to be a sign of good luck for the place you feed the lion from.
The food that night was really great, and I was introduced to some of the more authentic Chinese dishes I’d never had before. It was one of those events where I felt that I was really enjoying a culture from an outsiders’ point of view, but I was smack dab in the middle of Manila. Needless to say it was a night to remember, and one I thought I’d want my family to experience too, maybe when the kids are a little bit bigger. For now, we can have a simple celebration at home, with dishes that please everyone!
Steamed grouper – or Lapu-Lapu as it’s more commonly known was a dish I’d been dying to try out myself since I had some at a hotel I stayed in some few months back. I also thought it was perfect for the occasion, seeing as serving up a whole fish for Chinese New Year is believed to usher in “abundance”. Things have been…”plentiful” in the house of late, but I wouldn’t turn down a chance to serve up one of my favorite fishes.
The Tikoy spring rolls are something I read about in passing somewhere, so I thought I’d develop my own recipe. I love how the gooey-gummy, sticky tikoy works really well with the crispy spring roll wrappers, and dare I say they could give our local turon a run for their money. Rolls – along with dumplings – are also believed to be symbolic of the wealth and good fortune in the coming New Year as they are thought to resemble gold bars and ingots.
The grouper is of course a huge hit with Mr. Flintstone, seeing as he’s really sticking with his diet these days. Meanwhile the kids love the tikoy rolls so much that they’ve been asking me to teach yaya how to make some for them. It’s a good thing they’re so easy to prepare.
3 stalk onion leek
1 thumb size ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 small carrot
1-2tbps soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 Lapu Lapu
1. Cut onion leek, ginger, carrot, and garlic lengthwise.
2. Prepare steamer.
3. Stuff a quarter of onion leek, ginger, and garlic inside the Lapu Lapu. Rub salt all over the Lapu Lapu.
4. Place in an oven-safe dish, pour the rest of the cut vegetable over and under the fish.
5. Steam for 30 mins. Pour soy sauce and sesame oil on fish after cooking.
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