Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mid-Autumn Festival Lunch (at home)

Since I will be working in Singapore during the Mid-Autumn Festival, we had an early celebration last Sunday afternoon before I board on my (almost) weekly bus back to Singapore.

There was no moon (since it was afternoon) but we had a great spread of home-made delicacies for lunch. It sure beats dining out!

We started off with a herbal soup. Among the ingredients in the soup included chicken, pork, longan, Chinese ham and ginseng. The soup was clear and left a slight bitter aftertaste. A very good start!

As per any Chinese festival meal, steamed chicken is a MUST. We had a kampung chicken (chicken that runs around freely and fed with natural food) and it was well cooked. The juice from the chicken tasted sweet and slightly salty (just nice) and the meat was tender and full of chicken flavour, unlike those frozen chicken where the meat tastes like stale fish (I’m having goosebumps thinking about it). A soya sauce and shallots dipping complimented the chicken very well.

Another traditional dish presented on the table was the siu yoke or roasted pork belly. This winning combination of crispy skin (after reheating in the oven) plus salted meat plus the smell and taste of lard really works everytime. The price of siu yoke usually hikes up during Chinese festivals; therefore, we really treasure this dish.

We also had braised spare ribs and chicken feet with shitake mushroom. I love the chicken feet for its soft texture and wonderful aroma (thanks to the deep frying process). The spare ribs and mushrooms were cooked just right. A taste of the sauce revealed a well combined flavour between the mushrooms, ribs and garlic.

For the greens, we had stir-fried chive buds with siu yoke, carrots and garlic (no onions, though). The buds were cooked well but since the taste was bland as compared to the other major dishes, it attracted no one (what a waste!).

I should not leave out Mum’s special sambal ikan bilis (ground chili paste with anchovies). The sambal, infused with tumeric, garlic, onion and tamarind created an explosion of flavours. The slightly tangy taste was a real appetizer! I think this was the dish that killed other dishes. Definitely a potent underdog.

At the end of the lunch, there was no more room for desserts (mooncakes). But I couldn’t help but be awed by the packaging design of some mooncake makers these days. Take Hei Yue Thong, for example. The box came in the form of a lantern. I wonder if the cost of the mooncake is actually lower than the lantern.

Here’s wishing everyone a belated blessed Mid-Autumn Festival (I'm writing this on the 17th day of the Lunar Calendar). Hope you guys had eaten some great mooncakes!

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