Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our New Year Eve Dinner - passing the baton of cooking

What's your idea of a New Year Eve Dinner? Hotel? Best Restaurant in Town? Parents-in-laws?

Mine has often been home cooked if we are not travelling not that we travel a lot. It is usually at home and with some friends staying with us. I cook so much that sometimes I think I operate a Bed and Meals homestay but that is what the family is for since my grandmother's time - never let a traveller pass by the home without a good meal.

This New Year Eve is slightly different because I am working right until five. And someone other than yours truly must get the meal going. Therefore we suggested children-cooked meal.

And thus a New Year Eve dinner was cooked in spite of the travelling the hair perming and the hard to come by mint and basil. We managed to do some photography too.

If you need a good dish shashimi is always a good idea. There is no preparation except for the wasabi and Kikoman sauce and perhaps a good knife to slice the salmon well. This is a good way to start a good CHILDREN- cooked New Year Meal.

For a change instead of making the usual Foochow Spring Roll my daughter made a Vietnamese inspired roll with Vietnamese rice paper (bought in Kim Joo Miri) . the rice paper is different from the normal spring roll skin. We used salmon and cucumber as part of the filling. turned out quite exotic especially with the authentic Vietnamese sauce suggested by my son's Vietnamese classmate.

This is Grandma's pork meat balls (small king pork balls in Foochow) made to perfection and even served in a traditional Foochow soup tureen (made in China - blue and green).
My son is a kind of family specialist for this dish. Once upon a time he wanted to eat them so much that he called up grandma for the recipe and the tips to make the pork balls just like hers. BTW I am a "the original 5 minute speedy cook " so I do not do time consuming dish like this. My son once told me that he had been mentally and physically denied this wonderful pork balls and he was definitely traumatised . Miri restaurants do not do this Foochow dish. For generations in my mother's family would gather together in the early morning before the festive dinner to make each pork ball with great love from scratch ( YES - WE DID NOT BUY MINCED PORK). And that is why the dish is just so wonderful and meaningful. I am glad my son is the holder of the recipe now. And this evening the spirits of my grandmother and Third Uncle Pang Sing were with us.

My last outing in making a huge humber of this pork ball was when a cousin got married in Sg. Maaw and my Third Uncle Pang Sing and his helpers including some of us made enough pork balls for 12 tables!! Easily 2 balls per person - so 240 balls!! That was more than 40 years ago.

This is our family dish - the crispy skin belly pork with really crunchy and melt in the mouth skin. The pork was seasoned for a good 24 hours and then roasted over high heat in the convectional oven until the skin blistered and crackled. Then for a short while the rest of the meat is slowly roasted until it is tender to the teeth. Every member of the family has been trained to prepare this dish.

One important dish my children has to perfect is the Szechuan vegetable pork rib soup Foochow Style. Fresh pork bones and ribs must be par boiled and so must be the szechuan vegetables. This is one of their favourite soups. So they got it ready for dinner spending a big slice of their afternoon watching the stove top pot .

This is almost my kind of "instant" dish " I often have broccoli at home or I can pick it up from the way home from my favourite import vegetables lady hawker (whose daughter is going to be an economist now studying in UNIMAS) and whose 20 year old son who sells vegetables in another market drives a racy Honda car. With dried mushrooms and a tin of sea asparagus I can do this dish in 20 minutes and I have taught my children about this kind of "instant" cooking. I do believe that my children can now rustle up something like this for their friends and relatives.

The mun mien (braised noodles in seafood and soy sauce) is a Foochow "last dish" which signifies the host's generosity. It is the dish that says" one for the road". In case the meal has not been decent enough this noodle dish will fill you up and you won't get hungry along the way home. Excellent idea from the Foochow elders!! And the trick to remember to pick it up(and remember to order in the morning) as you pass by your favourite mung mien outlet or your favourite hotel restaurant on your way home from work. Just add more of the bok choy which you have put on standby in the fridge if you want more greens. The problem about cooking the noodles yourself is the large amount of washing of the wok and other utensils!!

I think I can retire from the family kitchen officially now and read Bertrand Russell or Cecilia Ahern with my legs on the footstool while the stoves are roaring with their fires!! Or blog when "some one is in the kitchen washing dishes!!"

Happy New Year!! And May God bless you Bountifully in 2009!!

7 memories:

Unknown said...

so you only have 3 children now mama?

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Nope I still have four...this Christmas only three of them helped with the cooking. Sorry about that....

cupid113 said...

Happy New year chang Yi

Those delicious foods are making my mouth watering right now .... it's so unfair! Was in Kuching over christmas as I did a 2 weeks trip to Jakarta and travelling to different cities there and also meeting up with Tiur and the rest of the sisters and from Surabaya I flew to Bali too - went there with my niece and her friends and also my sis in-law.


I Am Sarawakiana said...

Hi Serina
I heard from Ida too and she was so happy that we gave her some calls over the Christmas and New Year Season.
Come to Miri and we will cook up a storm!!

I am sure you had a lovely trip..especially with all the beautiful relatives.

Unknown said...


Can you post more recipes? foochow and iban?

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Dear Linda

Sure. I will post the easier ones so that you can get the ingredients easily. May be you can email me what you and Cheong like.

One of my favourite dishes is the terong and assam fish soup. But you can't get terong over there!!

Gary said...

Wow! What a dinner!

Your children were wonderful at picking up the baton when needed.

My mouth is watering when I look at the photos. A great New Year's Eve dinner.

Cudos to you and your family.

A nice blog.

I invite you to visit my site at

Have a healthy and prosperous 2009.



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