Monday, December 31, 2007

Winter Solstice Festival Dinner

Yes...by now, I should have blogged about the Retro Party but I think it's more auspicious to post my Winter Solstice Dinner experience first. The Chinese always say, "Starts with the head and ends with the tail". So, here goes....

I used to frown when I was forced to attend family dinners. As a kid, I would bring along my much beloved M.A.S.K. vehicles to keep myself occupied while the adults prepare the dishes. As a teenager, I would bring my Tetris or my Walkman. These days, besides taking photos, I participate more in conversations too. As I grow older, I begin to enjoy family dinners.

Perhaps distance DOES make the heart grow fonder.

As this year’s Winter Solstice Festival fell on a Saturday, I was able to join some close relatives for a wonderful dinner. Dishes were prepared by an aunt of mine.

We had a hearty Fish Curry In Claypot. The ingredients included fish, prawns and tomatoes. All the ingredients were absolutely fresh as aunt bought them from the wet market before the break of dawn. The thick curry sauce was aromatic and rich in texture sans coconut milk. Tamarind juice added tanginess to the curry while cilantro added crispness and freshness. A plethora of flavours! I had 2 bowls of rice.

The traditional Stir-Fried Chinese Arrowheads With Siew Yoke was also served. The sweet and savoury soya sauce-based gravy went well with the rather bland arrowheads. Siew Yoke (roasted pork belly) added saltiness and texture to the dish. It was also rather aromatic, thanks to the fatty layer of the belly. A touch of cilantro gave the dish a hint of freshness.

Cousin bought the famous roasted duck from PJ (which apparently sold out within a few hours). The meat was soft, with a hint of Chinese herbs while the crisp skin was sweet and slightly savoury. A dish that never fails in whipping up our appetite. If fat is not of a concern, do indulge a little for that rich and aromatic experience.

The humble Steamed Chicken was not well-received as it was less flavourful compared to the rest of the dishes. A rather “yellow” or fat chicken. The juice was sweet and went well with white rice. What I enjoyed most was the “chicken” taste that is rare in the days of frozen and processed chicks. A soya sauce-based dipping with minced shallots/cilantro provided a burst of freshness.

Soup du jour was Pig Stomach Soup, which comprised of mushrooms, ginkgo nuts, pork belly and smooth, soft layers of stomach. Peppercorns and chopped cilantro added flavours to the already sweet pork soup base.

For dessert, red bean soup was served with glutinous rice balls. The rice balls, which symbolized togetherness, were filled with 2 different fillings; black sesame and peanut pastes. Both distinctively rich and tasty. We bought the balls from the frozen food section in the supermarket, by the way.

Perhaps we will never experience winter in this part of the world. Perhaps rice balls are just rice balls. But let us continue to celebrate this festival that provides us with good food, not just for the stomach, but also for the soul.

13 comments:

Kenny Mah said...

Hey Nic...

Nice post, very heart-warming and it's not even winter! I like how the table is all spread with newspapers, so very homey.
And the best part? Your recollection on playing with M.A.S.K. toys as a kid. We're so the same generation, man... when are they gonna bring that back as a Michael Bay blockbuster? :D

Food for the soul, indeed...

Xiu Long Bao said...

Distance makes the heart grows fonder :) Guess i'll experience it soon.

♥ ♡ Alvin ♡ ♥ said...

long time did not have the roasted duck already, miss the Kepong Baru roasted duck.

Besides, feel warm to read your post, wishes i can have the nice meal with my family on this CNY festival because long we did not gather together already everyone busy to work.

Imbi & Itchy said...

So true, nothing beats home cooked food filled with love and laughter :-) Your aunt's quite a cook and I swear that i can smell the curry from my monitor! You know what, my dad's been cooking arrowroot every week too, its in season and I've been addicted to it lately hence, will try and get him to change his cooking version for once! Hehe ...

The roasted duck looked like its from Loong Foong. yeah, that place is crazy, always out by certain hours. But damn yummy!

team bsg said...

that , was a very big feast
according to
team bsg.

we only drink soups and then some
hahaha !

ekeng said...

Hey Nic,nice to meet you on that day..You're such a nice and friendly guy..Happy New Year to you..May All The Best in year 2008.

Jun said...

hav u tried the glut rice balls of "ah balling" in spore? s'posed to be good but i din get to try it when i went to spore last time. will be down pretty soon in jan, will u be thr? :)

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

dont worry..im also blogging in order..kekeke..thus My Elephant or His Elephant would need to wait a while

yammylicious said...

Fish Curry In Claypot! delicious! steamed chicken.. so big gal of mii still dont eat tat.. but mom love it alot! ><

ling239 said...

Hi Hi Happy New Year...
wonder where the roast duck comes from ? any idea ? ^_^

Nic (KHKL) said...

Kenny: Thanks for the compliment, dude. i think we are only 1 year apart, haha! I would have preferred Wong Kar Wai directing M.A.S.K. though! My favourite is Rhino. No, Raven. No, Thunderhawk. I love them all! haha!

Xiu Long Bao: Cheer up, girl! :) It's just 4.5 hours drive from KL. Hehe...We'll have lots of makan time in Singapore! Yeahhh...

Alvin: Are you referring to the stall at the Wai Sek Gai area? The one next to the main road?

Niways, hope that you'll have a great reunion dinner this CNY! do blog about it, ya!

Lianne: Haha! Thanks for the compliment (on behalf of my aunt). Yeah, arrowheads are in season now. Mum fried 2 large containers of it for me to bring back to Singapore. Now you know why I come back to KL so often, huh? Haha!

Team BSG: Yupe, it was a feast indeed...But most importantly, it's the "hahaha"s and togetherness that matter...can't wait for the next feast...hehe...

Ekeng: aka the handsomest blogger (hehehe)...was a pleasure meeting you! hope to see you in the next gathering...here's wishing you a happy new year and may you find more great places to eat in pj!

Jun: Yupe, I tried the ones at the Hawker Centre in Chinatown. Heard the best ah baling can be found at the temporary hawker center at Outram Park. Yupe, I'll be around. Do give me a buzz if you wanna meet up! We'll eat 'til we drop!

Joe: Ooppss, looks like My Elephant is out first. Shame-shame, Nic. Haha! Your pic of the duck curry looks good. Will be waiting to see the rest of the pics you took that day!

Yammylicious: Is it? You dont take steamed chicken?? Why? It is so flavourful...eh, i heard chicken skin has collagen that's good for the skin too... :)

Ling239: Happy New Year to you too! Haha, I've been wanting to ask my cousin for the longest time now. but somehow, it just slips off my mind when i meet him. will find out and let you know, ya!

JOjo said...

Haha,so you had d red bean soup version too?
I had it this yr where usually my family will have it in Ginger pandan soup.

You can check it out at http://jojo185.blogs.friendster.com/joannas_life/2008/01/dong_zhi_festiv.html on my blog.

I'm still thinking of shifting...Friendster blog? Kena laugh by my friends -_-"
Btw, does blogspot have any limit on the no of photos u can upload per month?

Nic (KHKL) said...

Hi Jojo: I finally got to see your blog...was not able to get the link the last time..hehe..yeah, the dessert was identical..but mine got filling..hehe

yah! you should move to blogspot or wordpress. as i know, there's no limit as to how many photos you can upload as long as the accumulated capacity does not exceed 1000 MB. Hope to see your new blog soon!