Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chinese New Year Celebrations in Singapore - Part Two

Here are more photos on Lunar New Year Celebrations in Singapore!

Ok, this beautiful picture is not taken by me, but my brother. Lantern is traditional symbol of the Chinese culture. I especially like the design of the lanterns which has a modern comteporary twist to it. It was taken at Paragon.

I was awed by the design of the stage. You cannot tell from the photo, but when I first saw the stage at Raffles Place, there was only one word to describe it - magnificent. The design was red on red, but yet the chrysanthemum-like flora backing still stands out. The designer gave the backing red banner a good height which accentuate the magnificent theme further. I really love it. Will use it as a source of inspiration for my next design project.

Btw, a Chinese dance troop was performing when I was taking photos. It was quite interesting dance - almost aerobics like, but I did not manage to stay and finish the whole show. I was late for my dinner appointment then.

Passed by Chinatown weeks ago, but did not manage to take many photos. Usually one month before the Lunar New Year season, the streets of surrounding areas of Chinatown will be filled with beautiful decor.

There will also be street vendors lining the small lanes selling Chinese New Year goodies in Chinatown. Come closer to New Year, the roads will be blocked for pedestrians only.

Some of the stalls are not yet opened in the afternoon, but there were a lot of shoppers already...

Ok, foreigners might not know what are all these. Fret not, they are foodstuff. Chinese preserved Sausages of various kinds - some made with fatty meats, some lean meats, the black ones are made with livers and inlets which is similar to Germany’s blood sausage. The disc-like looking meat hanging in the middle are actually cured duck. They are almost like French’s duck confit in which the duck is preserved with salt and soaked in oil. These sausages and preserved duck are usually used to cook together with rice. However like all traditional dishes, they are not very popular with health conscientious young people.

As explained before, Lunar New Year is very much a tradition-bounded festival. Here are some of the traditional food stuff which Chinese will buy for the celebration.

Pomelo. It should symbolise good fortune. I know Hong Kong or cantonese people actually stew the skin of the pomelo fruit and served as a savoury dish. I think it is good for health or something.

Business men love to give their business associates gift basket. These gift basket ranges from $60 plus dollars to $200 plus dollars, comprising of items such as wine or spirits, abalone, dried seafood etc food stuffs.

Another cantonese traditional eats - candiced fruits. There are sweeten coconut shreds, candiced melon strips, sugared lotues and sweet potatoes discs etc vegetables. I heard from mum that this can be served to guests when they come visiting or be cooked in a sweet soup as dessert. Of course, it symbolised sweet start for the year!

Stoned preserved Red Dates. My grandmother used to buy these during Chinese New Year. My great grandmother was still around then and her dialect was Hockchew. They apparently like this very much. Again, unfinished red dates can be used to make red dates tea.

This is a uniquely Singapore dish- Yu Sheng or called Lo Hei (in cantonese pronunciation). It was invented by a famous Chinese restaurant called Phoenix Dragon during the 70's. It is essentially, shreds of sweeten and coloured vegetables salad with raw pieces of fish meat, chopped peanuts and crackers that is only mixed at the table with sweet and sour plum sauce. This ready packet Yu Sheng mix costed about $10 plus to $20 dollars - some comes with smoked salmon for people to enjoy Yu Sheng at home!

Niao Gao - Sweeten Rice Cake. Another traditional eats for Chinese New Year. It can be eaten just as it is which will tasted sweet and gluey and sticky. However, housewife would usually fry them in egg batter to make them more palatable, erm sounded wrong, anyway more interesting.

The above is traditional look. They comes in various forms and patterns nowadays.

In form of Golden Ingots! I always wonder how housewife can pry open the container to get the rice cake out...

Or in form of a colourful carp!

I used to like them when I was young. Candiced Mandarin Oranges. They tasted horribly sweet.

This is called 8-sided Treasure Chest - 八宝盒。 It used to be filled with preserved fruits like above.

As taste of people evolves, the 8-sided Treasure Chests also began to update themselves with modern eats such as Chocolates or ...

Nuts in various flavours.

Chinese New Year is so important in some countries that beer like the above designed special packaging for the period.

This is a more recent trend. As like any celebrations, people tend to splurge a bit on expensive food stuff. One of the most expensive food stuff which people will buy is canned abalone. I must say I am not a big fan of abalone as I thought they tasted tough, but the stock which the abalone was soaked in really elevate the taste of soup. It goes very well with Chicken soup or Pig stomach soup.

Important – Do not ever throw away canned abalone stock as this is where the essence lies. I had a friend who tells me that her mum always throw away the stock as if it was canned mushroom or something. I almost fainted when I heard that as she had poured her money down the drain.

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