Chinese New Year (CNY) is the Lunar New Year for the Chinese and you wish them with the greeting “Gong Xi Fa Cai” which means “wishing you great happiness and prosperity”. It usually falls around end of Jan or early Feb and when you start seeing red everywhere and lots of goodies on sale, you know Chinese New Year is around the corner.
Red is a very auspicious colour for the Chinese and you will see red everywhere – clothes, red banner with gold wordings, red lanterns, red hongbao packets, red cloth hanging over the main front door, goodies, prosperity plants, mandarin oranges and of course not forgetting the illumination at China Town.
On the eve of CNY, a reunion dinner is held, where all the family members get together to celebrate. Here in Singapore, even the non-Chinese do the same! In my family, it’s reunion lunch on the first day of CNY with Yusheng and homemade steamboat. Yusheng is known as the ‘Prosperity Toss’. It usually consists of strips of raw fish, shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments, among other ingredients. Everyone gathers around the Yusheng and toss the ingredients as high as possible, exchanging blessings for prosperity and wealth.
As for the steam boat (also known as hot pot), we make our own stock and buy items that we want like chicken fillet, fish fillet, prawns, tofu, fish balls, leafy vegetables, wantons, mushrooms etc. We place the steamboat grill on the dining table and add the ingredients into the stock and cook at the table. We have them with dipping spicy sauce or have it on its own, depending on the type of stock cooked. You can also have the items with plain white rice (pre-cooked) or noodles which would also have to be cooked in the stock. Be patient when you have scooped your items from the broth, as they would be pipping hot and you wouldn’t want to burn your tongue as you would probably be famished and not able to wait any longer to tuck in!