Happy Lunar New Year! That would be the good one. Today kicks off the Year of the Dog (狗), or more specifically, the Year of the Earth Dog. The current Year of the Dog is supposed to be a generally good year, but requiring some hard work, perseverance, and fiscal responsibility. I think things will be okay in spite of the Cheet-O.
It’s not that the outgoing Year of the Rooster was bad – it started off very well, turned into a rollercoaster mid-way, and closed out with my lobster imitation. Prosperity was good, but stress wasn’t so hot, primarily because I had to interact with a self-serving bigot whose sole talent appeared to be to denigrate people while simultaneously taking credit for their work (yeah, I said it – the embargo lifted a couple of days ago). The lobster eventually helped with the stress management, though I’ll also credit implementation of elements of shōjin ryōri (精進料理).
What would I like to see that might be really cool for the Year of the Dog? More prosperity is always nice, but some roast duck (北京烤鴨) at some point would be good too.
That’s actually not hard, and yes, I know – it’s coming. Could be 1 more month, 3 months 6 months etc etc. I’m still a (very) patient kind of guy, and yes I read the bit about hard work, perseverance and fiscal responsibility.
Anyhoo, what about the requisite things that are of upmost importance on the Eve to help ring in the Year of the Dog? Cleaning? Yes. Making sure all the garbage is out before midnight so that whatever residual bad luck gets kicked to the curb? Yes. The Meal? The Eve of the Dog fell on a weekday (yesterday, so Thursday) so my parents insisted on simplifying things to not interfere with whatever activities were being done in the daytime.
My brother made some guacamole so that everyone had something to snack on while the final prep was being done. I managed to get a glimpse of the bowl – essentially empty so quite popular.
As for me, my primary task this year was the preparation of the stunt porgies.
The stunt porgy that I selected for my parents. Unlike some families, we don’t eat the fish on the Eve so that we can show that prosperity continues from one year to the next.
I was also tasked with acquiring what my parents decided would anchor this year’s New Year’s Eve meal: sushi. My picks:
The “raw” sushi platter: sashimi of suzuki, hamachi and saba; maguro and sake nigirizushi; tekka, spicy hamachi and rainbow hosomaki; standard maki of spicy tuna and bonsai.
The “cooked” sushi platter: tamago “sashimi”; unagi, grilled hotate and grilled enoki nigirizushi; kappa and avocado hosomaki; standard maki for una kuy, kaimin tai (skin), fried hamachi, California rolls (the creation of Tojo Hidekazu of YVR), paradise, “poulailler” (fried pollo), spider, and l’Enfer (H*LL).
The tricky part of sushi takeaway is to figure out how much sushi is required. My mother wanted to make sure that we would be covered should the 196 pieces ordered be insufficient, and she also wanted to offer some variety to prevent palate fatigue, so she also prepared the following:
Taiwanese pork sausages. This is what was left of the sausages that wound up being snacked upon before dinner started; the remnants didn’t last long.
Radish cakes (蘿蔔糕).
Vegetables: broccoli and cauliflower (a Brassica bonanza).
Cold plate: soy-braised eggs, tofu and kombu.
Guotie being fried. They didn’t last long either.
Cold platter: braised beef shin.
Taiwanese pork meatball and daikon soup.
Not shown were fruit (pineapple and honeydew) and rice.
We also had a proper dessert: maple pecan cupcakes. Another great example of how when you don’t enjoy making a dessert, the simplest thing to do is to outsource it to someone who does. Superiority continues to be with using real butter.
And finally, like a good son I actually did present a red envelope to my parents as a thank you and to wish them good fortune for the coming year. Spreading some lucky money around ultimately means that it eventually comes around too. That’s the saying. One keeps with tradition.