Kung Hei Fatt Choi! Chinese New Year Monkey

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Happy New Year of the Monkey! I thought it’d be fitting to share one of my favourite photos from my childhood. I was 4 years old, carrying an orang utan in Thailand, I think?

I haven’t looked up horoscopes, but the consensus is it is a good year, the monkey is an agile clever animal and I have lots of friends expecting this year!

Trust that everyone has their red packets “lai see” in Cantonese or “Ang pow” in hokkien lined up, always give and receive with both hands. Well, most importantly – feast on all the Chinese New Year snacks.

CNY reunion meal

I am cooking all weekend with key dishes of prawns ha 虾 in cantonese is a homonym for laughter “ha ha” and is essential for a happy year full of laughter, fish yu 鱼  a homonym for abundance and the common phrase to wish someone is nian nian you yu 年年有余. I won’t go the whole hog like my mother who essentially cooks up a storm from vegetarian dishes with include mossy fatt choi that sounds like the Cantonese and Mandarin greeting for prosperity and looks like hair!

Scored with a local seabass for just 38MOP, cooked perfectly in 7 mins. The husband approved. Finally got the hang of cereal prawns and with perfect cuisson (cooking time). My mum’s cooking tip for life is that seafood is really easy to overcook, so always best to undercook as when you remove it from the pot/pan, the flesh continues to cook and sometimes helps you to arrive to the perfect cuisson when it reaches the table.

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Meanwhile, I leave you with another cultural anecdote. Or Horoscopes – take it all with a pinch of salt, lest they become self fulfilling prophecies.

Pineapples are featured often during CNY for prosperity. “Huat ah!” in the hokkien dialect means to prosper or have a windfall. Fittingly one of the pineapple’s chinese name is “phoenix pear” – how beautifully poetic? 凤梨 (feng li) Li being a homonym in Cantonese for success. Of course the bright yellow also symbolises gold 💰.Some people still roll pineapples and oranges into their new home before moving in – a practice believed to ward off bad spirits and luck before they move in.

And if you’re up for some cooking experiments, make some festive turnip cakes. I overdid the flour this time as I was trying to offset the over-watery turnips.

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And here’s Smudge monkeying around my tomato plants first thing this morning to usher in the Monkey year.

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