Excited for Chinese New Year 2014 Year of the Horse

It’s Chinese New Year Eve today!!!

I’m only just getting into the mood of Chinese New Year yesterday, when I started putting up the CNY decorations in my house. Minimal decorations of some lanterns, red Chinese decorations and some CNY characters and stuff.

Some of you have started taking time off work already, likely heading back to your hometown. For those driving, I hope you stay safe on the road, keep below the speed limit and remember to use Waze on your smartphone to try to avoid the traffic.

Tonight will be the traditional CNY Reunion Dinner with your family. While some of you will be cooking (or plain feasting on your parents’ cooking) or heading out for your banquet instead. My family has recently started the tradition of potluck dishes brought by every family member and relatives. Then, we proceed to stuff our faces silly throughout the first few days of family visiting and open houses. I’m personally attempting to cook something for the potluck reunion dinner. In case you don’t know, I am somewhat culinary challenged – I can’t cook, really. So wish me luck!

While we get in the mood of Chinese New Year happening tomorrow, I want to do a quick list of items that I’m looking forward to this Chinese New Year 2014, the Year of the Wood Horse!!! All the things that makes me love Chinese New Year and being in Malaysia where all different races come together to celebrate this occasion together.

 

Reunion Dinner

CNY 2013 Reunion Dinner with family
Chen Family Reunion Dinner 2013

This was the spread my family had for CNY Reunion Dinner last year. My mouth still waters thinking about the big spread of delicious food everyone prepared.

Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner happens on the eve of Chinese New Year, where family members all come home for dinner with the whole family. Traditionally, family members might have relocated and moved away for work. CNY is a time when all family members travel home to celebrate the Lunar New Year, starting with the “reunion” with their family members on the eve.

And yes – you’re supposed to feast. Chinese people love our food and we eat a lot. On CNY, we eat even more. The more food on the table, the better as it signifies blessing, wealth and luck!

This year, I can’t wait to see the different dishes that will be served tonight. I am having a light lunch, so I can feast tonight. *drool*

 

Lion Dance

*Image Source : TrendImages.com

Lion Dance is a form of traditional Chinese dance where performers mimic the lion’s movement in a lion costume, traditionally performed during Chinese New Year and other traditional, cultural and religious festivals. In case you didn’t know, the Malaysian troupe of Lion Dance are award winning, and I remember watching them compete and jaw dropped when I see how agile and graceful the performance was when the “lion” jump from one pole to another, with multiple amount of difficult stunts.

Nowadays, a lot of local companies have started the tradition of hiring Lion Dance performances for their corporate CNY celebrations. Which was the last time I saw one amazing performance, years ago in my ex-company. This year, although I have heard some drums and cymbals of a Lion Dance performance, I have yet to see one in person yet. I’m sure I will soon.

 

Ngaku Chips

*Image Source : TheStar.com.my

Although most people are more excited about the prawn crackers, I am personally a huge fan of ngaku chips.

Also called arrowhead chips, it’s actually like potato chips or crisps but one fried from thinly sliced vegetable (called ngaku) from China which has a woody taste. OK OK. I know I’m not making it sound appetising, but once you have a taste of this, if you’re like me and most of the people I know, you won’t be able to stop. Likely more addictive than Pringles. Read more about it in the old article on The Star Online here or Table for 2 blog for the recipe on how fried ngaku is prepared here.

A week ago, my mom gave me a giant bottle of freshly fried ngaku chips. Like I told her, I would likely finish it in one sitting so she really shouldn’t give it to me so early before CNY. She insisted I take it. True enough, a couple of days later, I finished it!

I am looking forward to eating more in my mom’s place, or perhaps in all the other family and friends’ houses I’ll be visiting. Yumm.

 

Biscuits and munchies

*Image Source : Bread et Butter

In every Open House you attend during Chinese New Year, you’ll see a coffee table full of biscuits and munchies waiting to be savoured. Which includes some classic favourites like Pineapple tarts, Kueh Kapit (love letters), peanut cookies and more.

When I was a kid, I used to much on the peanut cookies non-stop. I love them too much. Thank God, I don’t have a peanut allergy, because they taste so good…. Now that I’ve aged into an adult, I still munch on them during CNY but not as much anymore. Maybe it’s age, but I find them a little too sweet to binge on.

Nowadays, I look for more ngaku chips, seaweed chips and other more savoury munchies instead.

Which are your favourite?

 

Roast Suckling Pig

Awesome suckling pig
Roast Suckling Pig, The Han Room (2013)

OK. This is non-halal food here – the traditional Chinese Roast Suckling Pig.

It is hands down, my favourite Chinese dish of all! Regardless of whether it’s Chinese New Year, any other festivities, Chinese love their roast suckling pig, and I am a typical Chinese here. I love me some suckling pig. At this moment, I have several banquet dinners coming up with family and friends and I can’t wait to savour the many (poor) piggies.

Crunchy and crispy skin on the outside, and sometime fatty but always delicious meat underneath. The suckling pig, also called “siew yoke“, is one of the greatest Chinese dishes ever invented. *drool* and more *drool*

 

McDonald’s Prosperity Burger

McD Prosperity Burger

Yes, no kidding! I actually really like the McDonald’s Prosperity Burger… which is only on the menu for a limited time during Chinese New Year every year. Beef or chicken patty dipped in black pepper sauce, topped with a generous amount of raw onions on two long sesame buns. Meals come with Twister Fries and Orange McFizz (orange juice + Sprite).

Just like the American’s obsession with the McRib, Malaysians get to have this blackpepper-y and onion-y burger only once a year. I get so excited when it’s about a month to CNY and the meal comes back. Almost immediately, every year, I get myself one! McDonald’s must know how much everyone loves it and can’t get enough of it, because there’s a Double Prosperity with 2 beef / chicken patties now!

It’s the raw onions, I tell ya. Plus the hot black pepper sauce, it’s just awesome!!!

 

Firecrackers – no more…

*Image Source : Desk7.net

For over a decade now, firecrackers (and any type of fireworks) have been banned for consumer purchase and use in Malaysia after multiple reports of reckless kids getting into major injuries and accidents.

I still remember my childhood, where on the first day of Chinese New Year, my neighbourhood will have some sort of Lion Dance performance, ending with a loud and elaborate line of firecrackers going off. The Chinese believe that the loud bang of the firecrackers will drive evil away from the home. Read about this and other Chinese New Year traditions here.

Unfortunately now, in Malaysia, you’d need a permit (I think) to light firecrackers and any types of fireworks. The ban is strict, but I know of people who can still manage to buy some small, harmless fireworks and some even smuggle them from abroad.

I wish I can get to see “some” form of firecrackers this year. Different from fireworks, which I witnessed a lot during my New Year’s celebration in Boracay last month, firecrackers and their loud clapping sounds are something that I’ve associated with my CNY celebrations as a child. Hmmm… Nostalgia.

 

So, that’s a list of what I look forward to every Chinese New Year. What about you?

 

While I run around doing last minute preparation for Chinese New year tomorrow, and ensuring my stomach is ready for the feast I’m about to stuff down my face… I want to take this opportunity to wish all my Chinese friends, family and blog readers…

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR 2014 YEAR OF THE HORSE!

May your new year bring you an abundance of good health, prosperous wealth and good luck!

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