Tuesday, February 23, 2016

元宵节 :: 吃盆菜

Yesterday concluded the fifteen days of the lunar new year. Took the parentals out for dinner at Crystal Jade Golden Palace where they did a pretty good poon choi (盆菜) in a style they enjoyed. I'm not sure if the parentals know that poon choi isn't generally a lunar new year dish. They think it is because many Chinese restaurants (Cantonese, really) in Singapore offer it during this period. They didn't grow up with this sort of food. I can't be bothered to expound on a history lesson of celebration feasts within walled villages in Hong Kong's New Territories, or how local restaurants will simply find new ways to kertok diners at the first opportunity. Just eat. Ahahahaha.

Poon choi is a pot of stew that has been on the stove for hours. The contents are nicely tender and flavorful with all the soup stock, dried oysters, mushrooms, prawns and whatever the chef feels like putting in. Dunno where they found a tiny bunch of fatt choi (髮菜, black moss or in fact, cyanobacteriato place in our pot too. Kinda useless since it has only symbolism for prosperity and zero nutritional value. It's become a 'delicacy' that sees such great demand till it's caused even greater erosion and desertification in the Qinghai Plateau and Gobi Desert. Glad that the Chinese government limits exports and sale.

For me, eating the abalone and mushrooms sufficed. Gravy with a bit of steamed rice would fill the stomach. Not keen on the meats of duck and pork. Restaurants price a pot between S$300 to $450, depending on the ingredients used. Great for sharing at a table of four diners; plenty of leftovers to tapau home. It isn't necessary to order more dishes unless a bowl of soup or greens are desired.

Did the lo-hei thing. It's weird calling it yusheng salad because for this one, abalone replaced the raw fish. Too many local Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infections from freshwater yusheng. Bye bye ikan parang. For lo-hei purposes, restaurants now use salmon and amberjack (or the Japanese amberjack, which is yellowtail), abalone and clams. These are fine substitutes for ikan parang. Really dislike jellyfish though. It's a pretty tasty salad if it includes pomegranates, pomelo and lychees, and ease off the oil and sugar (the plum sauce). I've no interest in the fried crackers which are used to signify gold, or gold bars. The parentals said they did 10 lo-heis over these two weeks. The man did three. Thankfully I only had two.

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