Reunion dinner on the eve of the Lunar New Year is celebrated with my in-laws, and it is a rather merry event with the larger group and the returning siblings from overseas.
Our Reunion dinner is usually the hot pot, or steamboat style.
A few highlights of the raw ingredients:-
Mushrooms - Enoki, shittake, oyster
(Fish; or 'Yu' (鱼) in Chinese is similar in its phonetic sound to extra/leftover and is a symbol to ensure that there is always enough or more than enough of everything; from money to food for the entire family for the whole year. The fish is often a hot item for the season as many stock up on this months or weeks before the Lunar New Year, and is a common sight on most families tables for the festive celebration. )
(Prawns are more recognized for its symbol of being a luxurious item; and only the Cantonese particularly enjoy the phonetic sound for the 虾 is pronounced as 'Har' which sounds like laughter; as in 'ha ha' and is symbolic to ensure that there is happiness and joy for the family. This is also another hot item for the festive celebration and prices can go up as high as double or triple its usual price due to the demand. However, while this is as popular, it is still not a mandatory item and to most families who can afford, it is sufficient that the prawn makes at least one appearance in one of the meal).
(This is again recognized as more of a luxurious item and is more of a symbol of luxury and prosperity; may not be a common item in every family. We had this as a gift from one of the relatives, so we were rather fortunate to enjoy this during the Lunar New Year's eve dinner).
All the raw ingredients thrown into the pot to cook; there are different types of fish balls, paste, mushrooms, beancurd sheets, vegetables, fish, prawns, etc.
Roasted pork (Siew Yoke)
(Meat was scarce in the olden days; and therefore is considered a symbol of affluence and well-doing to have at one's table. The tradition continues as many still lust after meat, and yet due to health reasons, abstain from having too much; particular the elders. Therefore, the meat is definitely a popular dish and a must have for all the families. Most Taoist families will have the meat; be it pork, chicken, duck or altogether for the deity and ancestor worship purpose and these will make its way to the table during the meals throughout the festive season).
Five Spices Minced Pork Rolls (Lor Bak or Ngoh Hiang in Hokkien)
(A traditional dish among the Hokkien or the Peranakan families during the festive seasons is this unique minced pork rolled with fried beancurd sheets and flavored with five spices to lend it that unique taste and aromatic flavor).
Stir-fried spicy Flower Crabs (or Chi)
(This was a unique dish which we get to enjoy this year as my mother-in-law bought it for the original purpose to brew the hot pot soup with, but ended up stir frying this for all to enjoy as finger food, and boy, was this popular!
Perhaps from the auspicious perspective, being of a seafood nature, it could be considered a luxurious item as well and a symbol of prosperity due to its fiery red color? It is all about looking in the positive direction ;-)
Reunion dinner was filled with good food, company, and lively conversations followed by lots of laughter as everyone was catching up on the lost times; the way it should be.
It was yet another enjoyable gathering where everyone helped to clean up and set up the decor and stuffs to usher in the brand new year.
I am sure yours was as well ;-)
Most of the festive food and dishes are associated with either its phonetic sound or the auspicious symbol as the Chinese are quite superstitious and conservative; observing most of the traditions passed down from generation to generation. It is not a bad thing, as most of the traditions are logical and practical to a certain extent, and the most important is that it brings joy and amusement; and everyone together!~
Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Horsey Year 2014!
May you and your families be blessed with abundance of wealth, happiness, luck, and good fortune always!~
Gong Hei Fatt Choy!!