LiveReport - Happy Chinese New Year! The Feast Began!
As those who speaks Mandarin would say, "Gong Xi Fa Choi!"
So, Happy Chinese New Year for anyone who celebrates the arrival of the year of the Dog =)
As you may have noticed or may not, I am an Indonesian-born Chinese. In my roots, I am Chinese but sadly I can't speak Mandarin or any other dialects. Back home, the celebration of CNY is usually quite extravagant amongst our family. This is a BIG event anyway! Traditionally, we would have a simple and satisfying meal at my grandparents' house where all of the extended family members gathered around to wait for the new year to come. During these times, my grandma and her cook would be cooking from early morning to prepare dinner for around 50 people. She' s a super-grandma I would say! Then, the next morning we would put on our nice dresses and go around the elderly houses to pay respect and receive... the RED POCKET (angpao) !! Of course, somewhere in between we would be lighting incense and pray.
However, in the past 5 years or so we no longer celebrate CNY that way. My uncle came up with this new and more modern and more efficient way. By renting a ballroom in a hotel, get the food ready by the hotel chefs, and BOOM everyone gather there all night long until the countdown. Afterwards, we would be paying respects to the elderlies who are already gathered in the ballroom. This isn't such a bad idea, it's a bit extravagant I'd say. Just as I mentioned before.
To be honest, I kinda miss the times when we gathered at our grandma's house. She has this garden where I usually played with my siblings and cousins. This memory seems antique and faded now, ow well....
I think I'm a bit dragging you guys in the supposedly an introduction to my posting =p
Back in Toronto! The celebration this year won't be like any other year as most of my families live back home. But I'm interested to see what people in Toronto are doing for CNY. The TV broadcasted that there were some festivities and gala dinner at the Exhibition Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, and Performing Arts Centre. That's about it, I guess. Perhaps there was something going on in Chinatown or Markham area. I have no idea.
What I want to be reporting LIVE to you is our home-cooked dinner last night! In order to celebrate CNY, I went through adverse weather to T&T (the best Chinese grocery in GTA) just to buy the freshest ingredients for...SHABU-SHABU!!! It was raining hard all day long and it justified that it was the perfect time to eat shabu-shabu!
In this vast grocery, you can get lost, both physically and in thought. There were so many distractions that sometimes I forgot what I was there for. As for ingredients, you can basically have whatever you like in a shabu". The thumb of rule is NOT TO INCLUDE ANYTHING THAT WILL CONTRIBUTE A STRONG UNDESIRED TASTE, such as fresh prawns and daikon, because the main stars here are meats and vegetables. So our choice ingredients last night were:
Sliced beef and pork
Beef balls and cuttlefish balls
Nappa (chinese cabbage)
Fresh mushrooms: baby king oyster, enoki, champignon
Noodles (we used spaghetti and shanghai noodles)
As for the soup, I used a shortcut, BEEF STOCK POWDER. I also added fresh celery leaves to make it more aromatic and some salt and sugar. However, as you cook these ingredients, the soup would start to be sweetened nicely by the nappa =)
Not forgetting the DIPPING SAUCE! This is very crucial (as Aeons would agree)! This dipping sauce makes everything taste..gOOoOOoOOd. It's a simple mixture of chopped thai green chilies, freshly squeezed lime juice (or lemon juice), and light soya sauce. MMmm..hMMm!
I can garantee you one thing when you're having this all-you-can-eat shabu", YOU'RE GUARANTEED TO BE TOO FULL! Well, that's the consequence of all-you-can-eat course anyway ;)
~ I was happy because I get to use my fancy serving plate I bought from the Japanese ceramic store!
~ Newly added: this satisfying dish is much better than oily chinese cookings you found in chinese restaurants ^_^