Monday, February 9, 2009

Gong Xi Fa Cai

or "Happy Chinese New Year". Chinese New Year in Singapore is a ginormous celebration and one of the most important in Chinese culture. Since a good part of the population of Singapore are Chinese immigrants, these people don't mess around. They go crazy during the 15 day celebration. They have tons of customs and traditions for this one holiday and I cannot begin to name them all. I do know that they give out mandarin oranges (which is a homophone in the Mandarin language to golden luck) and red packets of money. And I know that everything they do is related to luck and prosperity in some form or another.

So since I work for a Chinese Singaporean, she treated the whole staff to an authentic Chinese New Year lunch last week.

Here we are getting ready to try Yee Sang.

Yee Sang is a very colorful appetizer that is actually kind of fun to prepare. As pictured above, the lady sets up the dish and puts all ingredients in neat little piles on the bowl. This dish contains raw salmon, prawn crisps (shrimp crackers), shredded carrots, shredded radishes, chinese parsley, plum sauce and lots of other stuff that I couldn't figure out.

Then, all of us gathered round the dish with our chopsticks. We then tossed the noodles and ingredients up in the air with our chopsticks while saying our well wishes for the new year. It sounds messy and it kind of is, but more ended up back in the bowl than I thought would. Then we ate it. It tasted like a sweet shredded noodle salad. Not too bad.

There were a couple courses in between, but I didn't want to be "that girl" who takes a picture of everything we were eating. However, I had to take a picture of this one.

When I arrived in Singapore, I vowed that I would never eat this dish. BUT, at the risk of being rude, I had to suck it up and at least try it.

This is the infamous black chicken.
And no, it's not marinated to look like that. It's a certain breed of chicken that has black skin and white feathers. Even the flesh underneath is a gray color. It's terrifying to see in person. It looks like a charred chicken leg that's been boiled until soft again.

The taste? To me, it tasted like someone dropped their cigarette butt in the broth that the chicken was boiling in. That could've been my very vivid imagination though. No one else seemed to share my sentiments.

After a few more not so scary courses, we were served dessert.

This is yam pudding with a sugar syrup.

Asians don't do desserts that are as sweet as we Americans do. This tasted like a warmed, plain sweet potato with some thick sugar water poured on top. I was not diggin' it. I'm more of a brownie and ice cream kind of girl. Yams are a vegetable in my house. Same with corns, beans and all the other things Singaporeans seem to think are desserts. Sorry kids. No go for me.
All in all, I'm glad to have stepped out of my box a little further. Will I be ordering any of these things on my own? Oh hell no. At least now, I know what the heck these things are when I see them.

No comments: