Sunday, February 22, 2015

Welcome the Year of the Goat

It's the year of the goat... ram... sheep... whatever!  I was raised believing the Chinese zodiac is the goat (and I recall the pictures as always being a goat).  But whether goat, ram, or sheep, they are all correct.  How is this so?  Well, simply because the word (in Chinese) is properly 羊 (yang) which means a goat or sheep (ram being the male form) or even antelope (in certain cases), although usually it is just goat or sheep.  How is it differentiated?  Beats me!  All I know (if I remember any of my Chinese lessons!) is that if we want to be specific in referring to a goat, we say "mountain goat", literally 山羊.  For sheep, it is 绵羊, or "cotton sheep"... Yes, it is confusing!

Anyway, as with each turn of the year (lunar or Gregorian), we welcome it with FOOD!  I know there are many traditions regarding what food to serve but truth be told, we are not so traditional, even if we try to keep the "spirit" behind the tradition.

So always present at the dinner table (for birthdays and other occasions) is the long-life misua!  The "superstition" here is that the noodles may not be cut otherwise it is in indication of a life "cut" short.  Hmmm... unfortunately, when I cook I stir a lot and as you can see, the noodles inadvertently get cut!  (I can almost hear my mother's voice, tinged with outrage and horror!)

For hubby, who requested a dish with "round" things... the "round" things signifying coins for prosperity.  To the "round" things, I add the abalone (albeit faux), whose shape is similar to an ingot, which also signify prosperity.  Presenting... Braised (Faux) Abalone Steak with 3 Kinds of (Fresh) Mushrooms -

A "rich" dish... Stewed Pork Leg with Sea Cucumber.  Sea cucumber (which is a childhood favorite of mine) can be expensive and difficult to prepare so it really comes out only on special occasions, but it is totally worth it!  According to the "elders", the sea cucumber symbolizes abundance and perseverance.

And, for the grand finale... Pineapple Tarts!  The Chinese word for pineapple sounds like the word for luck (or good luck) so red pineapple hanging ornaments are considered auspicious and sweets that are made from pineapples are likewise auspicious and said to bring lots of good luck.  In my case, I had originally planned on making pineapple cookies but I could not find my lucky flower cookie cutter so I made tartlets instead.  By the way, my pineapple filling is mostly sweetened with mango!

祝你身體健康, 萬事如意. 恭喜恭喜!

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