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Chinese New Year 2011: ‘Yee Sang’ in Canada

Yee Sang

We had ‘Yee Sang’ at RC’s house today together with her family. She makes this every year as part of the Chinese New Year (CNY) festivities and traditions. ‘Yee Sang’ is a salad made of shredded vegetables and mixed with some condiments and plum sauce. Slices of raw salmon or other kinds of fish is commonly added to the mix. After the sauce has been poured over, everyone at the table picks up his or her chopsticks and begin tossing the salad  to mix it up, the ‘Prosperity Toss’.

This is a shot of the toss during last CNY, again at RC’s house. She had more people over then.

IMG_5299 (600x400)

Before coming to Canada, I didn’t know Yee Sang is a CNY tradition only in Malaysia and Singapore. The Chinese restaurants here don’t serve or sell this. I heard that a Malaysian restaurant in Markham makes this but it’s selling for $100 a dish and upwards. I suppose it has a high price tag for a salad because it’s a labour-intensive dish but still…! RC prepares this dish all by herself, shredding and slicing the vegetables and deep-frying the shredded yam and sweet potato. Even the sauce is homemade! If not for RC, I wouldn’t be able to having Yee Sang during CNY. Smile Thank you, RC!

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2011 in Life

 

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Peanut (Butter) Cookies

Every year during Chinese New Year (CNY) I’ll make peanut cookies. They are somewhat a traditional CNY cookie in Malaysia. Peanut cookies require roasted peanuts to be grind till fine before being mixed with the rest of the ingredients. I find that a lot of work and  maybe not as yummy as my mum’s short-cut version which uses peanut butter instead! It may sound sacrilegious to the traditional peanut cookie bakers out there who would painstakingly roast and pound (okay, maybe just whiz in a food processor) tons of peanuts for the cookies but this is really a time-saver. Granted the texture of the cookie would not be the same but it’ll still be a hit with all peanut and peanut butter lovers.

I’ve not met anyone who likes peanut/peanut butter who doesn’t like this cookie. This year I brought some over to my neighbours, Andrew and Cherie, along with ang pow (red packets) for their daughters. I had just gotten back into the house when the phone rang. It was Andrew and Cherie on speaker-phone telling me how much they love it and asking me if I would teach Cherie how to make it! I taught Cherie how to make it on Tuesday and she and her 4-year-old had fun rolling and baking the cookies.

Give this recipe a try. The full recipe makes about 300 cookies depending on big or small you roll them but they’ll go fast! They break in your mouth with the slightest pressure and melt into peanut butter goodness. They’re pretty addictive that way and you won’t be able to stop yourself from taking one after another!

Peanut Cookies

340g creamy peanut butter (I prefer Skippy’s)
600g all-purpose flour
200g confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
240ml vegetable oil
1 egg yolk

1. Mix all ingredients together, except the egg, in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until the mixture comes together. The dough will be smooth and soft.
2. Pinch some dough and roll in between the palms of your hands to form a round ball. Place it on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Alternatively, you can take some dough and roll it to form a thin, long log. Pinch dough off the end of the log to roll into balls. Repeat till dough is used up. (Leftover dough can be frozen.)
3. Using the end of a drinking straw or a pen cap (I used a Crayola marker cap) press down lightly on each ball to make a dent.
4. Beat the egg yolk lightly with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash over each cookie.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake each tray in the centre of the oven for 15-16 minutes until the cookie is done and turns brown on top. The cracked top is characteristic of this cookie.
6. Place the tray on a cooling rack and allow the cookies to cool down and firm up before removing.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2011 in Baking, Food

 

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Chinese New Year 2011

Today, Feb 2nd, is Chinese New Year Eve, one of the days when I’m most reminded of my family. It’s a tradition for Chinese families to have dinner together on the Eve, just like families here do on Thanksgiving or Christmas. The children will return to the home of their parents for the dinner so it’s called a ‘Reunion dinner’. There will be an elaborate dinner with festive dishes.

I suppose I could have a festive dinner with my own family here in Canada too but it’s rather pointless. There’s no reunion and I’ll be doing it just for the sake of tradition. It’s good to teach my children Chinese traditions but I think I’ll wait till they’re a little older. They’ll know it’s Chinese New Year now when they start receiving ang pows (red packets) from us and family friends!

There’s no Chinese New Year atmosphere here unless you go to Chinatown or step into a Chinese mall. There’s no holiday and no school break. The excitement this week is the major snow storm that’s coming and Thursday, the first day of the New Year, is going to be the ‘dig out’ day.

Still, today when I went grocery shopping to stock up for the week in anticipation of the storm, I bought fish, shrimps and Chinese sausages, food I don’t usually cook but that are part of a Chinese New Year meal. I’m not sure when I’ll be cooking them but when I do, I’ll tell my children that I bought these food because it’s Chinese New Year. :)

I may be giving the impression that Chinese New Year is not celebrated here at all but that’s not true. The Chinese still celebrate it in a big way in their own ways. For my family, we’ll be celebrating with some fellow Malaysians by having a meal together. We’re thinking dim sum this Saturday. We also had an unplanned ‘festive meal’ when we went for dinner with another Malaysian family at a Chinese restaurant last Sunday and found that they were not serving their usual menu. In place was a ‘festive menu’! Dinner that night took 3 hours as the restaurant was very busy and because we did not order the popular dishes that were coming out quicker from the kitchen!

I was shopping at Loblaws today and at the end of my check-out, the cashier, a Caucasian, wished me, “Happy New Year!” For a second, I didn’t know what she meant! It was really unexpected but it was a nice gesture. I smiled and thank her, refraining myself from saying, “Happy New Year to you too!” I was still smiling when I walked away. I guess it’s nice to have your celebration acknowledged. :) So if you are a non-Chinese and you’re reading this, if you have Chinese friends, go ahead and wish them, “Happy Chinese New Year” or “Happy New Year” or “Sun Lin Fai Lok” (Happy New Year in Cantonese). You can wish them for up to two weeks from the first day of the New Year.

Happy Chinese New Year to my family and friends! I wish you a happy celebration, and for those in Malaysia, a happy long holiday too!

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2011 in Life

 

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