It’s the season of orange, candied fruits and basket cake. Yes! It’s Chinese New Year!
When it comes to Chinese New Year, you know, it’s the season full of feast. Days of eating very scrumptious-sometimes-oily meals.
The festive (for me) started around 2 weeks ago. I was invited to a special dinner hosted by Lai Ching - Four Seasons Jakarta.
Together with fellow foodie, we had an enormous 3-hours dinner. Greeted with a fortune cookie, orange, bottomless tea (mixed of chrysanthemum and pu erh) and also a glass of beautiful flower tea (hua cha).
This dinner was intended to familiarize Yee Sang in Indonesia. Yee Sang/Yu Sheng/Lo Hei is that famous raw fish salad mixed with various vegetables, sauces and condiments. It is a symbol of abundance, prosperity and strength. Each ingredient has its own meanings.
Yee Sang isn’t that well-known here in Indonesia. Traditionally famous in Guangzhou, China, to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Back then in sixties, Singapore started to spread this beautiful culture around the country. And finally, few years back it came to Indonesia. Freshman indeed!
I myself have enjoyed this wonderfully tasty appetizer quite some time.
There’s some ‘rules’ you need to follow before you can gobble it. Thanks to Ms. Uti who is very kind to share the knowledge with us.
- While placing the dish on the table, we must say ‘Gong xi fat chai, wan shi ru yi’ means ‘Congratulation for your wealth. May all your wishes come true.’
- Followed with ‘ta chi thali’ means ‘lots of luck’ at the same time when we added the lime/orange.
- After that pour the soy sauce, pepper, peanuts and sesame seed. Keep continue say ‘shuang xi lin men’ means ‘the arrival of double happiness’.
- Welcoming the sweet and easy life by saying ‘tian tian mi mi’ as we drizzled the oil and plum sauce.
- Adding the thinly-sliced-lemony-salmon and let the abundance fills the year as we declare ‘nien nien yu yee’. (You can use any other fish too)
- Last but not least, ‘pien ti wang ching’ means ‘each year full of gold and glory’ as we pour out the golden-crispy-prawn-crackers on top of the dish.
Let’s eat together and say a prayer ‘ta chia i chi law te fung sen swei chi lo hei lo hei’ that the businesses will thrive in the future, as we gathered around the dish and toss it higher in the air. The higher you can be, the better it is and do grab the fish for some abundance. Thus this dish often called as Prosperity Toss, hope and pray that the new year is better than the previous year.
Look at the mess! We’re extremely excited. It was very delicious. All the ingredients were fresh, you won’t get any smelly-fishy. You can taste the sweetness from the vegetables. I also tasted some ginger yet it didn’t overpower the other ingredients. Sweet, sour, crunchy, tangy. Well balanced.
Not only we were served with Yee Sang, we had the privileged to taste luscious cuisines made by Chef Suratno.
Braised bird nest with bamboo pith to soothe the night. Quite condensed yet you can taste the crunchy texture of the bamboo pith. You can add a little black vinegar for a simple twist on the dish. I skip that part as I enjoyed the simplicity of the soup.
Braised sliced abalone with oyster sauce. It’s been quite a long time since the last time I had abalone. This one bring back the old memories. The abalone really had a nice texture and not chewy. The veggies seems overcooked however when you taste it, it’s just perfect and still had the crispy look.
While we’re waiting for the next main course, suddenly I smelled a steamy-fresh-tantalize meal ready to served. It was Steamed soon hock with soya sauce. All of the sudden the room smell delicious. They served it in light soya sauce. The fish was very fresh and moist. Unfortunately I found it a bit too light as I ate the meat it was bland.
Roasted crispy pigeon. As I remembered, I never had pigeon before. It’s kinda a forbidden food. This time, I gave it a try, hopefully I didn’t cross that ‘red line’. You can have it with some condiments or just a plain way. It tasted delicious in both ways though. The meat was very juicy and the crispiness of the skin gave it a nice dynamic. Better eat it with both hands. Watch out, you’ll ended up showered with some oil.
Assorted sauted mushroom with garlic. It’s basically your ordinary stir fried mushroom yet this one still coloring your palate. Crunchy mushroom with good doze of garlic flavor give it a clean cut to your taste bud.
Spicy fried rice with wagyu beef. Oops! I forgot to take the picture. The rice was too mushy. It didn’t fit my preference. The cubed size wagyu beef add another layer to the dish. Unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy it that much.
Enough for the main course, let’s hit the dessert section. They served a dessert platter for us. Consists of Guilin herbal jelly with honey, Chilled almond bean curd and Chilled mango pudding. All of it hit the right spot. Good consistency and flavor. Nevertheless the highlight one was the Guilin Jelly. It’s like love-hate relationship between the bitterness of the Guilin with the sweetness of the honey.
I thought that was the end of our fabulous dinner, apparently they gave little surprise for sweet tooth like us. Friednian gao. Nian gao as knows as basket cake is the famous cake made once a year before the Chinese New Year. The cake made from glutinous rice and sugar. You can enjoy it right away or keep it for quite a long time and fry before you serve it.
They say a great dessert determine a great dinner. I must agree with it. This sweet-gooey-in-the-middle-covered-with-crispy-batter made one grand closing. One is never enough!
Ps: A great reminder from the fortune cookie.