Eating in Kuching - Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner

The Chinese Communities in Malaysia are very adamant about keeping their culture alive, and those in Sarawak are no exception. Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration of the year, and no expenses are spared to make it a memorable and joyous occasion. New Year goodies, lion dances, flowers, New Year decor all make a killing this time of the year. Even firecrackers and fireworks which have been banned for many years will surface mysteriously when the time comes. On New Year's Eve, you won't be able to sleep way past mid night due to the crackle of firecrackers and fire works.

Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner is the equivalent of the Christmas Dinner. Family members who are away will make it a point to return home for the Reunion Dinner. In Malaysia we call it "Balik Kampung" - going home to the village. In Kuala Lumpur and other big cities this is the cause of massive traffic jams and much stress during festive occasions.

Nowadays many families including mine choose to have the Reunion Dinner at a restaurant. Having it at home would mean having to spend the whole day and even days before preparing for the dinner, and hours cleaning up afterward. With lots of things to be done before the first day of New Year, it is simply too tiring.

Most the restaurants would be booked out way ahead, and many have introduced 2 seatings to cater for the demand. We chose to go for the early 5.00 p.m. seating so that we can get home earlier. About half of the restaurant was occupied for the early sitting.

You can't have a CNY Dinner without Yee Sang. This was actually invented by the Chinese in Malaysia based on the tradition of having fish during the occasion. It is like a salad that is tossed to "loh hei" or "raise the good luck". Recipes vary from restaurant to restaurant - usually a mixture of crunchy and sweet ingredients like dried fruits and nuts mixed with raw fish slices. Nowadays salmon is commonly used.

Roast suckling pig, much prized for the crispy skin. It is served with steamed buns, a sweet sauce and pickled vegetables.

Fish is a must-have item for CNY Dinner. In Chinese fish is "yee" which sounds like "abundance", so to have fish every year means you will have lots of abundance all year round.

Steamed scallops with vermicelli. Very fresh and sweet, a rare treat in Kuching.

Prawns done 2 ways - with a honey sauce on one side and mayonnaise on the other side. The one with honey sauce was better.

Broccoli with 2 types of mushrooms.

Eight Treasured Sticky Rice. This is savoury and sweet - it is more of a dessert. Quite nice, but takes a bit of getting used to because of the unusual combination of sweet and savoury ingredients.

Dinner was over really fast as the restaurant was rushing for the second seating at 7.00 p.m. Time to go home and prepare for the big day !


Kong-Kay said…
happy new year to you and your family!

from the kongkay family
Borneoboy said…
Thank you Mike. Happy Chinese New Yea to you and family too !
vincent said…

We bumped into your blog and we really liked it - great recipes YUM YUM.
We would like to add it to the

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Best regards,

Happy new year! That is a feast!
Happy New Year, CW and fam!

That looks like a very nice steamed fish. May you abound in love this year.
Borneoboy said…
Thanks Nate & Annie. Happy CNY to you and fam too !

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