Tag Archive | yu-sheng

All about lo-hei

I always look forward to having yu-sheng which like love-letters and pineapple tarts comes only once a year and that during the Chinese New Year season.

However, like most “traditional” foods, yu-sheng has been making its appearance earlier and earlier. And why not? After all, none of the ingredients that goes into making this basically raw fish salad is “seasonal” in the real sense of the word!

Thus I was delighted when Tanglin Club started serving yu-sheng, for dine in and take-out, from Jan 10 all thru to Feb 17. I became the first member to buy the yu-sheng for take-away on Jan 10 which co-incidentally was also the first day I ate yu-sheng back in 2010.

How did I know I was the first member? Because I was made to wait a long time after ordering and told repeatedly by club staff that the kitchen wasn’t ready!

Without more ado, here are the yu-shengs I had on the run-up to CNY and during the 1st 15 days.

yu-sheng I brought home on Jan 10

veggie yu-sheng @ Lotus: Jan 31

 

yu-sheng @ Pan Pacific Feb 10

 

veggie yu-sheng @ 8Treasures: Feb 13

yu-sheng lunch @ NH's home: Feb 17

yu-sheng dinner @ home fm Cz'zar: Feb 17

Actually, I had two other yu-sheng centric meals: at GC & HT’s home on Feb 5 but the guest turn-out was large and there was so much chit-chatting that I forgot to snap; another was again a take-away from the Tanglin Club but not worthy of commemorating with a pix, since there was already one from Jan 10!

Without much trying, I’ve had eight yu-shengs this CNY. 8)

Now if only some kitchen entrepreneur in Singapore would start serving yu-sheng as an everyday dish! Then my culinary wishing cup would surely overfloweth!

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Super luxe meal @ super private home

Last Thursday, Feb 25, I was treated to a super luxe meal at a super private home off Holland Road. 

As the hostess requested “privacy, because I’m a very private person”, I won’t say more other than post pix of the specially prepared meal, with a word or two to go with the dishes, as a sort of aide memoire for my culinary recollections. 

sashimi quality salmon yu-sheng

We started with yu-sheng, which contained a large serving of sashimi grade salmon marinated in aged brandy so fragrant that its scent could be smelt across the room. 

Adding further kick to the yu-sheng were Calmex abalone strips and finely sliced lime leaves. 

The next item to grace the table was individual braised abalones matched with baby kailan. 

I had eaten mine serving entirely be4 I realised that I hadn’t captured the dish for future salivating, so had to beg to take a shot of another guest’s half-finished portion. 

yum!

The abalone was followed by North Sea halibut, richly textured, firm to the bite yet tastily so and a noodle dish with pork knuckle, the latter with the name Wang Choi Zhao Sow, which in Cantonese means extraordinary gains are at hand. 

The piece de resistance of the dinner must be the cave birds’ nest (as opposed to the house-bred nest) doubled boiled with Chinese herbs and quail’s eggs in a coconut. 

And everything was washed down with a 2006 bottle of Australian Shiraz. 

solid halibut steak

unusual gains are near!

double-boiled treasure

treasure revealed

Those I seldom see..

There are some people whom I’ve known for decades who I don’t see very often, if at all, even though almost everyone of them live in Singapore. 

One such group meet often enough among themselves but I’m not involved. And every time I get to see them, it is through the invitation extended by WC who regularly ensures such a get-together. 

So, there I was at one such a gathering today. We were back again at the Regent Hotel’s Summer Palace Restaurant for some fine Chinese dining. It’s WC’s favorite restaurant and  she again hosted. 

The food was as usual exquisite. Although I’ve had yu-sheng on at least 10 occasions already this Chinese New Year season, today’s lunch gave me my first taste this year of abalone cum salmon yu-sheng. 

deluxe yusheng

The golden pumpkin soup which followed was equally a treat. I had always thought the golden pumpkin was only for decoration but Summer Palace proved me wrong. 

 The pumpkin, steamed till tender, was a very treasure trove of delectable seafood, including a generous table spoonful of fresh crab meat. It was so good that even a non-soup drinker like me was seduced into drinking the rich concoction, even as I spooned out the goodies into my waiting mouth. 

tasty treat awaits

open sesame

four treasures

 The soup was followed by a cold dish of four treasures: jellyfish, roast duck, suckling pig and soy sauce chicken. There were two veggies: spinach with mushrooms and dao-meow; steam soon hock followed by noodles. We finished with individually chosen desserts: I opted for aloe vera jelly which turned out to be a lot richer and sweeter than expected, and included a generous helping of diced fresh mango. To be honest, I prefer the plainer version from the Crystal Jade chain.  

Finally, a group picture for the album till we meet again, who knows where, who knows when, or until WC hosts another of her always generous meals!

pretty mates in a row

Food, food and more food

Here are some pictures that capture the main activities of the 2nd and 3rd days of the arrival of the Year of the Tiger.

pix be4 demolition

On the 2nd day (Feb 15), we were back again at my sister Daffy’s for the “kai nian” (or Opening the Year) meal. Which is always a lunch for Daffy’s family.

Again, simple food, cooked simply. Mostly a replica of what was served on New Year’s eve as the dishes had served as ancestral offerings first.

Today, the 3rd Day of the New Year, we had Daffy’s family back to lunch at my home. It’s not a family tradition but because I had to go out to visit some friends after lunch, I decided to create some activity for mum at lunch time, so that she would be less bored in the hours between after lunch and before dinner.

We had drunken chicken, dry mee siam and vegetable stew, mainly to mop up the excess pesto sauce left from a batch I made some days ago but couldn’t finish at one go. I also picked up a pack of trusty yu-sheng (below) from the Tanglin Club.

yet another yu-sheng

Then it was off to GC n HT’s home where unintentionally, it was something like a gathering of ex-colleagues, some of whom haven’t met for years.

This couple holds open house for literally several scores, with some  guests who are very well known in the media and communications industries.

taste smorgasbord

For me, it was also a meet-up with some of my Facebook friends: of cos I know them, but it was our first meeting during the current festive season.

We were treated to smorgasbord of yummy Singapore tastes, provided by a caterer called Stamford.

 Then as we were leaving just be4 nite fall, the hostess threw a “lo-hei before you leave” surprise. She had specifically asked for parang fish, which is quite a treat for many who remember yu-sheng with that fish, instead of salmon which has nowadays become the standard.

As we were about to toss, one guest standing next to me said gleefully: “This is my 3rd yu-sheng for this season.” I had to restrain myself from upstaging her, even tho I dearly wanted to declare: “It’s my second yu-sheng today!”

parang: a cut above

Mad about yu-sheng

When our monthly lunch group met on Friday (Feb 5) for our February lunch at the American Club, we kicked off the meal with yu-sheng.

I was surprised to hear that for several in the group, it was their first yu-sheng for this yu-sheng season.

For me, I had my first on Jan 10 at WN-C’s place when she gave a farewell for all her ex-colleagues be4 heading for Perth as a pei-du mama with her kids. It was something of a make-shift yu-sheng, since most of the basic ingredients for the dish, save for the raw fish, weren’t on the market yet. Hence, several dissenting voices grumbled about there not being enough plum sauce or dessicated peanuts.

That was followed by two yu-sheng meals from the Tanglin Club, one eat-in and another take-out to eat at home. The fourth was at our omnibus family reunion dinner at Zhou’s Kitchen last Sunday, Jan 31. So the American Club yu-sheng was the fifth time for me this season!

tossing for luck at the American Club

While it was also the most luxurious — four plates of raw fish, compared to the usual one or two plates that come with an order of yu-sheng at other outlets or restaurants — my preference so far is that made by the Tanglin Club.  The sweet and sour tanginess is just right, as is the “rubbish” or salad of white radish, carrots, pomelo beads etc

my share of luck

Still, the good thing with our lunch group’s yu-sheng was that there was so much to go around that we could have second and even third helpings!

Before I end, I would like to applaud the fact that one could nowadays have yu-sheng well ahead of the Chinese New Year.

The Tanglin Club started serving it this year from January 25, quite different from when I first became a member, when yu-sheng was a foreign language.

Back then, only one restaurant I think in the whole of Singapore dared to be different and served yu-sheng a whole month before the arrival of Chinese New Year!

 That restaurant is Capital Restaurant, residing on the ground floor of an HDB block in Cantonment Road that has since given way to Pinnacle@Duxton, the country’s showcase public housing.

Capital Restaurant has moved and its innovative daring has today become common place.

As a diehard yu-sheng fan, I look forward to the restaurant that dares to serve yu-sheng all year long. I will give it my whole-hearted support!

Reunion pick & choose

Every year, as the Chinese New Year draws near, my extended family will hold its omnibus reunion dinner, so that each nuclear family will be free to have its own smaller reunion on the eve of the new year.

The combined reunion is attended by 40 to 50 family members, with the occasional would-be-family member joining in. The numbers depend on how many of us are in Singapore or have returned to Singapore, and have no important over-riding engagements that fall on the date picked.

Every year, the wife of the first born in my generation will fix the date for the omnibus reunion. This year the dinner was held unseasonably early on Jan 31, two whole weeks before the New Year, due to the fact that brother and wife had returned from Melbourne to Singapore earlier than usual to do missionary work in Batam. And they needed to be back home to his Church Downunder be4 their 4 weeks being away were over.

waiting to be tossed

So, last Sunday night (Jan 31) saw us some 40+ strong gathered at Zhou’s Kitchen in Novena Square Two starting our $388+++ set menu dinner by tossing yu-sheng.

Before my father went to heaven rather suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 87 in 2001, we tossed only vegetarian yu-sheng, as my father became a vegetarian from the age of 19 and never craved for meat. Sure, he was a Buddhist but his vegetarian diet was a preference rather than a sacrifice. Hence all our reunion dinners were at vegetarian restaurants, notably at places like Divine Realm etc which have all (co-incidentally) closed since his passing.

All this is a preamble to the diverse ways those at my table approached the dishes that were served.

A brother, still mourning the loss of his teenage daughter two years ago, has in recent times gone semi-vegetarian, by avoiding meat and fish wherever possible.  So steamed drunken prawns and steamed live garoupa, sharksfin soup and chicken were off limits. Even with yu-sheng, he could only eat the salad.

His mum, who had taken a vow to avoid several kinds of foods, including garlic and onion, had also forsworn live prawns and fish. I’m with her where live prawns and fish are concerned, tho I’ve not taken any vows.

I just feel it’s so wrong to eat something that’s still swimming in the tanks only minutes be4, altho I’ve friends who tell me scornfully: “You mean it’s all right to eat something that’s been dead hours, days, weeks?”

My mum avoids all prawns, live or otherwise, so she skipped the prawn dish too. Alongside her, a sister-in-law skipped the sharksfin, chicken, prawns, fish and the raw fish. And of cos, mum’s picky Siti refused to eat yu-sheng.

In the end, only one or two dishes were fully cleaned out, including the dessert which was wholly and undilutedly vegetarian: cream of red bean with glutionous rice dumpling!

Considering our respective dietery quirks, I’m wondering whether we shouldn’t  return to those vegetarian reunion dinners when Dad was around?

Perhaps next year!