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!)
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 -
"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.
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
祝你身體健康, 萬事如意. 恭喜恭喜!