I LOVE Chinese New Year and look forward to gatherings with my family and relatives. Aunts, uncles, siblings, nieces and nephews will start arriving at my mother’s house early in the morning, and they will be greeted with a bowl of sweet ginkgo and longan (for a sweet beginning to the year).
Then, they will all gravitate to different parts of the house. Aunts and uncles will plonk themselves in front of the television or start a poker or cherki session. The children will have the run of the house; checking out each other’s tablets and often ending up in the inflatable pool in the garden by late afternoon. Cousins will find a nook to chat and catch up on each other’s lives.
Wherever we are and whatever we do, we all eventually end up around the dining table – not once but many times throughout the day.
There will be my mother’s signature asam fish and prawn curry, jiu hu char (sengkuang with cuttlefish), tu tor t’ng (a soup with pig intestines) and various other dishes for lunch.
The table will then be cleared for spring rolls and pie tee.
We will be kept busy rolling up spring rolls to serve those busy gambling or tending to the little ones, and supervising kids intent on making their own helpings.
And there will of course be a free flow of Chinese New Year goodies – love letters made by my cousin (not store-bought), melt-in-themouth kuih bangkit and peanut biscuits.
The feasting usually ends with a quick dinner as everyone gets ready to go home. Chances are we will meet again in following days as we will take turns visiting each other ... and eating together.
So, maybe when I come back from the Chinese New Year holidays, I will need a break from all that gluttony and eat a salad ... like one with a light orange vinaigrette and Mandarin oranges. It will be a comforting reminder of the Chinese New Year revelry.
Roast Chicken And Mandarin Orange Salad
Serves two 150g mixed mesclun leaves 8-10 cherry tomatoes Segments from 1 Mandarin orange 1 boneless chicken thigh, roasted and sliced 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds ½ cup orange vinaigrette dressing
Orange vinaigrette dressing
Juice from 1 orange 2 tbsp rice vinegar 1 tbsp castor sugar ½ cup vegetable oil 1 tsp grated ginger Salt and black pepper to taste To make vinaigrette, mix all the ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously.
To assemble salad, mix all the ingredients in a big bowl, drizzle with vinaigrette and toss.