Monday, January 23, 2012

The Water Dragon Cuisine (A Chinese New Year’s Dinner Treat)

Monday, January 23, 2012
Beating of the drums echoed on the street. Market extends up to the sidewalks that feature varieties of circle-shaped fruits and tingling charms such as crystals and amulets.  Dragon dances were being performed in synchronize steps as money filled their red envelopes or “ampao” in return for each group exceptional performance. Almost half of the roaming crowds were in “red”. And lastly, piles of “tikoy” and aromas from Chinese cuisines scented the atmosphere implying a “Kong Hei Pat Choi” greeting.

January 23, 2012. No place in the Philippines would be busier on this day other than the China Ton in Carriedo Street, Manila. Chinese New Year is truly a remarkable holiday to Filipinos especially to our Chinese fellowmen. This event reflects how these people behaved and what they believed in most. They pour out money to buy presents, decoration, material, clothing and food which resembles their customs and traditions. Among these, the Chinese cuisines were the top priority on this celebration. As we witnessed how our Chinese brothers and sisters welcome the year of the water dragon, let me take you to a food experience that will surely satisfy your Chinese cravings.

On their new year’s eve, Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner known as Chu Xi. The venue will usually be in or near the home of the most senior member of the family. The New Year’s Eve dinner is very sumptuous and traditionally includes items such as pigs, ducks, chicken, and sweet delicacies. Some of these Chinese foods are consumed to usher in health, happiness and good fortune. Its names are also homophones for words that mean good things.

 And to serve the menus for the day, the following dishes then filled the tables: 

1.)    Buddha’s delight (kou ru)
An elaborate vegetarian dish served by Chinese families on the eve and on the first day of the New Year. It is a type of black-hair algae, pronounced as “Fat Choy” in Cantonese, is also featured in the dish for its name, which sounds like “prosperity”. 

2.)    Fish (Yu)
Usually eaten but not completely for the remains is stored in the overnight. Its name (yu) is a homophone for “surpluses”. The purpose of remaining some of it goes with the Chinese phrase “may there be surpluses (fish) every year”. 

3.)    Jau Gok (you jiao)
The Chinese new year main dumpling. It is believed to resemble ancient Chinese gold ingots. 

4.)    Jiao Zi (dumplings)
Eaten traditionally in Northern China because the preparation is similar to packaging luck inside the dumpling which is later eaten. 

           Mandarin Oranges (jin ju)
The most popular and abundant fruit during the Chinese new year. Its name is also a homophone of luck (jin) and fortune (ju). 

            Melon seed (kwatji)
Also includes other seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin. 

7.       Noodles
Families always served it uncut not only in the new year since it represents long life.

8.      Sweets
Sweets and similar dried fruits goods are stored in a red or black Chinese candy box. 

9.      Bakkwa (rou gan)
The Chinese salty-sweet dried meat, which is trimmed of the fat, sliced, marinated and then smoked for later consumptions or as a gift. 

1        Toro Cakes
Made from the vegetable taro as the cakes were cut into squares. 

1    Turnip cakes
A dish made of shredded radish and rice flour; it is usually fried and cut into small squares. 

Yusheng or Yeesang (yu sheng)
Raw fish salad that was said to bring good luck. It is usually eaten on the seventh day of the new year and throughout the year. 

           Nian Gao
Popularly known as tikoy. Nian Gao is considered as the Chinese new year pudding and the pronunciation of its name is a homophone for a “more prosperous year”. It is made up of glutinous rice flour, wheat, starch, salt, water and sugar
It is not a pre-requisite to include all of these dishes on the Chinese New Year ’s Eve dinner. Though each symbolizes good things such as fortune and good luck, the real key to success depend on one’s attitude and perception. What truly marks our Chinese fellowmen are their patience and dedication to work. Also, they tend to set aside the bad things and distractions they’ve encountered and embraces with such positive outlook each coming year. 

Note: Photos included in these post are property of the administrators.


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