Friday, 8 February 2013

gong hei fat choi

Tomorrow evening bangs the gong on yet another Chinese New Year eve. It's the day us folk (Chinese, not bloggers, though one could argue most of the time it's one and same) we celebrate the beginning of the new lunar calendar. It's done with plenty of colour and movement...and shitloads of food. In order to start the year off well, it's important to have an abundance of food, family and friends to represent and set an intent for prosperity in the next twelve months.

The good news for curious spectators who haven't found an Asian to adopt them for the holidays - there's plenty of action happening around Sydney, from Burwood to Chinatown and everywhere in between. From markets to dragon boat racing and even a DRAGON BALLZ, check it all out on the Sydney Chinese New Year website.

In years past, we've focused our little FBi radio program on what action is taking place, but this year, I thought we'd look at a couple of crucial CNY foods and their traditions, so you can integrate them into your own weekends. The year of the snake brings with it potentially turbulent times...but also transition, change and transformation. So let's just focus on the important stuff, shall we?

Foods you need to have on Chinese New Year #1: Pineapple tarts

It's all about the symbolism. You eat sweets on Chinese New Year so you have a sweet new year. Geddit? While there are a few crucial sweets you see around on CNY, including the ubiquitous red bean soup which usually sends white people running for the hills, pineapple tarts are cute, butter laden and a fun and accessible way to ease into CNY delights. Starting with a buttery, short bread-like base, it's crumbly, rich and terrifyingly bad for you, if it's made the right way. This is cut into a circular flower shape and topped with a pollen centre of sticky, tart, pineapple jam. They're small, completely moreish and will have you in a diabetic coma by the end of the box. So naturally, Chocolate Suze has an awesome recipe worth trying if you want to make them yourself. 

Foods you need to have on Chinese New Year #2: Noodles

Long noodles, long life. While there's no specific noodle recipe attributed to CNY, the important thing to remember is this: Don't cut them. Cutting noodles off with scissors or chopsticks when you're serving them at the dining table during CNY is a recipe for getting you excommunicated, as the superstitious regard it as a bad open for longevity. DO toss them high and make a mess when you serve them up that saying 'the higher the hair, the closer to god', so too, should your noodles follow suit. 

Foods you need to have on Chinese New Year #3: Whole fish

Head on, tail on. A whole fish represents the wholeness of the family unit. Plus, cooking a fish whole adds to the drama when you bring it to the table..and then you can always fight over the cheeks and eyeballs. Kylie Kwong does an amazing steamed whole snapper with spring onions and's simple, easy to sub in almost any firm, white fish you like...and delicious. A classic Chinese dish worth mastering. 

So eat up, share the weekend with good friends and family..and have a fantastic year of the snake!