Year of Snake, Feasts

Year of the Snake is working out so well for me that I’m not going to listen to its forecast, you can read it here!  Two Chinese New Year Feasts later, I’m happy with how well they turned out. The best secret I’ll share is to have an assistant prep everything day before and stick with same menu for both Feasts so there are no surprises!  Another secret is to rope your friends in to help and voila, you have a FEAST!  This Sunday, February 24 is the end of the 2 week Chinese New Year celebrations. My New Year resolution to sleep earlier is not going so well, any tips?

Kung Hei Fat Choy everyone, share with us your favorite Chinese New Year dish or tradition you look forward to every year!

Here are Tips that will make your Chinese New Year Feast memorable…
Menu
Work your menu so there is not much ‘cooking’.  Purchase as many precooked meats as possible because those take the most effort.  Do a stir fry dish, a steamed dish, a stew. Get the picture? Keep it SIMPLE. Many dishes or are symbols of money, wealth, health and good luck or sound like it.

Stir fry your veggies ahead but undercook them and just warm through last minute and add your seasonings. I have a wonderful double steamer (great gift from my sister) so I could steam the corvina which was a life saver!

Guest Lists
Hone your guest lists (I so wanted to fit more friends in, and you will get a chance one of these years) I’ve always warned my friends they may get rotated so new friends can experience Chinese New Year at my home.  It was a nice mix of old and new friends which made the conversations quite interesting!

Cleaning
Hire a cleaning lady, it’s so worth it, it takes the stress away completely.  It’s too much to clean, decorate and cook.  Tradition says not to sweep on Chinese New Year day cause you’ll sweep away the good luck.  There are a lot more traditions on what’s lucky or not here.

I had to get everything done BEFORE New Year’s Day, so it was a perfect incentive to clear out my apartment.

Decorating
Buy potted orchids and sprays if you can find them!  They instantly give your space an Asian look and so stylish.  Have lots of red, yellow and gold.  Here’s more on how to decorate a festive table setting.

Redecorating our apartment in time for the Chinese New Year went like clock work and I’m thrilled with the results but I’m exhausted. I’ve mixed new furniture with an old Chinese camphor wood chest my mom gave me and I think it looks spiffy together.

So here’s what I served, it was miraculous that I ended up with 13 total in each party, whew because the no.4 is actually unlucky, sounds too close to ‘death’.

Appetizers:
Sesame noodles with cucumber and carrot garnish, Crispy grilled wontons with 3 dips and Cucumber pickles.
These are always a big hit, all carbs but everyone enjoys them!

Second course:
Steamed Corvina with ginger and scallions
Stir fried Chinese Broccoli

Third course:
Buddha’s Delight: snow peas, mini sweet peppers, wood ear mushrooms, tofu.
Roast Duck, Soy sauce chicken, Char Siu
(store bought roast meats arranged on large platters)
Pork stew with Chinese mushrooms served in clay pot it was cooked in. Didn’t manage to get photo, boo!
(This dish got cut in second round cause my sister thought I had too much food!  The truth is, she wanted to eat the leftovers.)

Dessert:
Chinese cakes all store bought: melon pastry, coconut tart, almond cookies
Lacquer box:
Coconut chunks, candied lotus seeds, licorice plums, fortune cookies.
I forgot to serve Cara Cara oranges and Asian pears which I specifically bought for this dinner!
Drinks:
Fiji Water, wines, Tiger beer, Tsing Tao

L to R: Dining table setup was tight squeeze, I made everyone sit with someone they didn’t come with.
I love those Indonesian masks my hubby’s sister gave us.
Gift bags under console were not so obvious and I forgot to give them to some friends, oops.

Oh, and I received many lovely gifts, lots of teas for some reason.

I was so touched with Mary’s lovely gift basket full of exotic fruits from her own garden, guava, pomegranate & star fruit (carambola), also she dried carambola and kale with sesame seeds, they were delish, comes in handy and goes with everything!  Mary also made “lean go”, a very traditional Chinese New Year Cake that took 4 hours to make and she steamed in her cast iron wok! Can’t believe she forgot to take a photo!

Chopsticks galore! Did my friends really have to use SO many?

Some behind the scene shot my friend, Irene took of me cooking, notice double steamer on left and on right, my wok and gas stove setup ontop of electric coil cooktop.

Best part of Feasts, I get to use leftovers in many creative ways, you can see them on Instagram where I post daily.

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3 Responses to Year of Snake, Feasts
  1. לחץ זה לכאן עכשיו
    September 5, 2014 | 3:12 pm

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  2. Renee
    February 26, 2013 | 3:11 pm

    Wow you took a lot of really great photos, Eleanor! Very cool post! 🙂

    • Eleanor Hoh
      February 27, 2013 | 11:53 pm

      Thx Renee, you’ll notice I took most photos before everyone arrived! I missed taking quite a few food shots, too busy cooking and entertaining.

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