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Four chefs and their favourite CNY recipes
HUA TING, ORCHARD HOTEL SINGAPORE
“In Hong Kong, my family’s reunion dinners were always prepared by my mother. The food was simple, but made with love. Some of her specialties include fried glutinous rice with preserved meat, roast duck, pen cai, steamed fish and boiled chicken.
“My favourite dish till today is the fried glutinous rice because it reminds me of ‘simpler’ times. It was a precious commodity back then. To me it represents down-to-earth homemade goodness and incorporates different flavours - the sweetness from the Chinese sausage, saltiness from the soy sauce and chewiness from the glutinous rice. Many Chinese people love to cook this dish at home in winter. And eating it always reminds me of home and family.”
Wok-Fried Glutinous Rice with Preserved Meats (Serves 10)
Glutinous rice 600g, Preserved meat 50g, Wind-dried Chinese sausage 50g,Liver sausage 50g, Dried shrimp 50g
Oyster sauce ½ tablespoon, Soya sauce 1 teaspoon, Dark soya sauce 2 teaspoons,Salt and sugar, to taste
Wash the glutinous rice thoroughly and soak for 2 hours. Place the rice in a pot and steam for 30 minutes. Set aside for preparation later. Soak dried shrimp for 1 hour. Set aside. Steam the preserved meat, wind-dried Chinese sausage and liver sausage for 20 minutes. Dice into small bites.
Wok-fry all prepared ingredients; followed by the glutinous rice. Add in seasoning, fry evenly and the dish is ready to serve.
Cooking tip: Use a nonstick frying pan to stir-fry the glutinous rice. Otherwise you have to use a lot of oil to keep it from sticking to the bottom of a normal wok.
CHEUNG SIU KONG
CHINESE EXECUTIVE CHEF
SUMMER PAVILION, THE RITZ-CARLTON,
“When I was growing up in Hong Kong, my parents, grandmother, siblings and I would enjoy reunion dinners prepared by my mother and grandmother. They would cook dishes such as braised fish with beancurd skin; pork trotters with black moss (fatt choi) and fermented beancurd; deep-fried sesame balls and kok zai or peanut puffs. I have fond memories of my family making desserts together and sharing a lovingly prepared meal - it didn’t happen often because my parents were always occupied with work when I was young.
“The dish that reminds me most of my youth is savoury glutinous rice balls that my family would eat on the first day of every Lunar New Year. My mother would cook chicken broth using a whole chicken, before adding in plain glutinous rice balls. But now, I add a filling of Spanish Ibérico pork when I make it for my own family. This dish is also available as part of Summer Pavilion’s set menu for Chinese New Year. It symbolises family togetherness which is what the Lunar New Year means to me - spending quality time with my family.”
IBERICO PORK GLUTINOUS RICE BALLS WITH CABBAGE IN SUPERIOR STOCK
Ingredients Glutinous rice dough:
Glutinous Flour 380g, Plain Flour 120g, Salt a dash, Water 300g, Cooking Oil 40g.
Chinese Chives 200g, Dried Shrimps Diced 40g, Mushrooms Diced 40g, Pork Collar Diced 200g.
Directions Glutinous rice dough:
1. In a mixing bowl, pour water into glutinous rice flour and plain flour while stirring with a spatula.
2. Add salt and oil and knead with your hand until a smooth, soft dough forms.
3. Divide dough into balls of 20g.
For the filling:
Fry the dried shrimps and mushrooms until fragrant. Fry the Chinese chives until fragrant, add salt to taste. Knead the diced pork collar until the texture becomes slightly chewy. Add a dash of light soy sauce and sugar, 50g of plain flour to the diced fried shrimps, mushrooms and Chinese chives and mix well. Divide filling into balls of 10g.
Add 10g of filling to 20g of glutinous rice dough to make a ball. Boil the glutinous rice balls on high heat for one to three minutes. Reduce to medium heat and cook for another six to eight minutes. Serve in your soup stock of choice
GROUP EXECUTIVE CHEF
CRYSTAL JADE GROUP
''I'm a born and bred Singaporean, and I grew up with my mum's cooking. Chinese New Year was always a special time to be with my family and my mum would prepare a wide variety of dishes for our reunion dinner. There would be Hainanese chicken rice, yam abacus seeds or suan pan zi with black moss (fa cai), roast duck, fried or steamed fish, fish maw soup and prawns, among other dishes that symbolise an abundant and prosperous new year for all.
''My mum was a great cook and among her specialties, my favourite is the abacus seeds. When I was a boy I would help her prepare this for our reunion dinner and I remember shaping the dough into abacus seeds.
''Suan Pan Zi and black moss or fa cai in Chinese sound like 'counting money' and 'good fortune', so it is quite often prepared in many homes for the lunar new year. It's my favourite dish because it is a simple, yet tricky dish to prepare. Moreover, it is getting harder to find places that serve up a good plate of suan pan zi these days. Homemade ones still taste the best!''
PROSPERITY YAM ABACUS SEEDS (SERVES 4 TO 6)
Ingredients Abacus seeds
Yam 300g, Tapioca Flour 150g, Hot Water 80g, Salt ½ teaspoon, Shallot oil 40g.
Minced pork 30g, Mushrooms, diced 20g, Black fungus, diced 10g, Carrots, diced 15g, Dried shrimps 20g, Black moss (10g) Coriander, garlic and spring onions.
Pinch of salt, sugar, pepper. Oyster sauce, sesame oil, light and dark sauce to taste. Deep fried scallions.
Slice the yam and steam for 20 minutes, and mash. Add tapioca flour, salt and hot water. Add scallion oil and press it into a dough. Shape the yam dough into abacus balls. Boil a pot of water and put the abacus seeds in to cook for 2 mins. Remove once seeds rise to the surface and use ice water to rinse them. Heat oil in a pan and stir-fry the minced pork and dried shrimps till fragrant, add in the remaining ingredients and abacus seeds. Add some water. Add the seasoning and deep-fried scallions and serve
To get a smooth texture for fa cai, soak the dried fa cai in hot water or broth, with a pinch of salt and either shallot or sesame oil for about 15 minutes, before using.
EXECUTIVE CHINESE CHEF PEACH BLOSSOMS,
PARKROYAL COLLECTION MARINA BAY
“Reunion dinners were always at my grandma’s house, and all my relatives would each prepare three dishes to bring over. It was a time to show off each family’s best dishes so my mother would make mushrooms stuffed with fresh prawn paste; ngoh hiang with pork, prawn and salted egg wrapped in pig’s caul; and steamed kampong chicken with ginger and shallots. “Mum did the cooking but I would help with the preparation. She didn’t cook such dishes often, so it was a treat and I also enjoyed spending time with her in the kitchen. My favourite is the mushrooms stuffed with fresh prawn paste - it’s simple but it looks and tastes great. I would help by preparing the prawn paste and stuffing the mushrooms. Eating this reminds me of happy times and warms my heart, especially since I became a chef and no longer get to spend such reunion dinners with my parents.”
MUSHROOM STUFFED WITH PRAWN PASTE (SERVES 1)
China mushroom 1pc, Fresh prawns 2pc, White radish 1pc 10g, Baby Cabbage ½ pc, Pumpkin Mash 10g, Chicken stock 30g, Salt 2g, Oyster sauce 10g, Gold foil for decoration, Caviar 2g.
Peel and devein the prawns, keep the prawn tails for decoration. Mince the prawns and stuff into the mushroom. Set the tail on top. Steam the baby cabbage and radish until soft, and the stuffed mushroom till cooked. Set aside for plating. Mix the chicken stock with pumpkin mash, oyster sauce and salt. Add some starch to thicken the sauce. Pour the sauce into a plate, lay the white radish first and arrange the mushroom on top. Lastly, place the caviar and the gold foil in the baby cabbage for decoration. seconds. Add 50 gm water and 20gm port wine, boil 1 minute. Blend and spoon into a piping bag.
COOKING TIP: To enhance the texture of the prawn paste, add a few icecubes to the minced prawns when mixing