A stomach for festivities

Lucky Foods To Usher in Year of the Tiger

Issue: Feb 2010

A sumptuous spread from The China Club Singapore’s Chinese New Year dine-in menu that can also be packed away for hassle-free, home-dining
A sumptuous spread from The China Club Singapore’s Chinese New Year dine-in menu that can also be packed away for hassle-free, home-dining

Nothing has quite as sacred a place in the lives of the Chinese people as food. So it is little wonder that when it comes to the longest of festivities in the Lunar calendar – the Chinese New Year – food plays a major role in the celebrations. Much of what is served and eaten in this most hallowed of Chinese seasons has to do with bringing, preserving and perpetuating good fortune of all kinds because the Chinese believe that whatever you do during that period will impact your life for the rest of the year.

A Luxurious Reunion Done in Style

Stewed fish maw with dried oyster and sea moss, from the Abundance menu offered by The China Club Singapore as part of their Family Reunion Banquet
Stewed fish maw with dried oyster and sea moss, from the Abundance menu offered by The China Club Singapore as part of their Family Reunion Banquet

And of all the meals in celebration of this period, none is more important than the New Year’s Eve dinner or the Family Reunion Dinner, a mandatory meal for all members of the family with a menu laden with food of rich symbolism.

That is why The China Club Singapore has spared no efforts to create a selection of delectable reunion banquets to bring families together on this joyous occasion. The elegant, members-only club perched atop the 52nd floor of Singapore’s premium commercial tower, Capital Tower, at the heart of the Central Business District offers fine dining, Chinese-style.

“We’ll be serving some exquisite dishes with our three set menus – Blessed, Prosperity and Abundance. Each menu will delight you with seasonal classics as well as our unique signature creations,” says the club’s Master Chef, Yim Yiu Wing who has had nearly 40 years of culinary experience and has been the head chef at The China Club Singapore since it opened its doors 9 years ago.

To give the perennial favourite a festive touch, Chef Yim has added not one but five types of rice to his Five Grains Fried Rice done in Yangchow style. Glutinous rice and white rice are mixed with three types of unpolished rice – brown rice, red rice and pearl rice – in a house specialty found nowhere else.

“Most people complain that glutinous rice is very filling and oily. So I mixed it with different types of rice to give the dish texture and to help absorb the oil so the dish is light and refreshing,” explained the chef.

Each of the club’s reunion dinner menus features luxurious dishes that the chef feels are essential to complete the new year meal, like Braised Shark’s Fin Soup, a stalwart on special occasions because shark’s fin is considered one of the eight treasures of the sea by the Chinese and a dish fit for emperors; and Dried Oyster and Sea Moss, eaten because the former, “ho see” sounds like the phrase “an auspicious occasion” and the latter, “fat choy” sounds like Chinese for “to prosper”.

And of course, for a sweet finish, Chef Yim has the Nian Gao lightly pan-fried. This sticky cake is a Chinese New Year mainstay because according to folklore, the Kitchen God ascends to Heaven one week before the Spring Festival begins and to ensure a positive report by him, the sticky cake is offered as either a form of bribe or to ensure that his mouth is too full to give a bad report. Glutinous Rice Dumplings which are rice balls stuffed with a sweet filling and eaten to symbolize completeness and togetherness round off the menus.


Dine in with Style

And if you want to recreate The China Club Singapore’s dining experience in your own home, there are several items from the Takeaway Specials to choose from. This year, more treats have been added to the list. You can order Honey Glazed Walnuts and Pineapple Tarts to add to your Tray of Togetherness or send someone their luxury hamper of a can of two-head abalone, flower mushroom, dried Japanese scallops, black moss, premium tea, a bottle of red wine, a jar of the club’s homemade XO chilli sauce, pineapple tarts and Mandarin oranges to wish them an auspicious new year.

Creations of Prosperous Proportions

The China Club Prosperity Pot filled with auspicious ingredients for a rich start to the year
The China Club Prosperity Pot filled with auspicious ingredients for a rich start to the year

For the first time, The China Club Singapore, has introduced the Prosperity Pot or pen cai to its Chinese New Year offerings. The hot pot dish is said to have originated in China to feed the fleeing emperor when Mongol troops invaded Song China. The locals were said to have collected their best food and tossed them into a wooden wash basin because no pot was big enough for the army and the pen cai or vegetables in a basin was born.

The club’s version is stocked with whole fresh abalone, fish maw, sea cucumber, scallops from Japan, Chinese mushroom, sea moss, live prawns, dried oyster, roasted duck and broccoli.

“The dish is popular during the Chinese New Year but what makes ours unique is the quality of our ingredients. Our scallops are from Hokkaido, Japan and are exceptional in texture and rich in flavour. We also specially import our live prawns from Qingdao, China, the coastal city famous for its fresh seafood,” said Chef Yim.

The Prosperity Pot is associated with unity within a community and eaten to symbolize cohesion.

Another of the club’s specials is the Baked Fortune Chicken. But Chef Yim has upped the ante with this traditional treat. His version has a whole boneless chicken stuffed with whole fresh abalone, whole dried scallops, dried oyster, chinese mushrooms, sea moss, dried lily mushroom and black fungus all eaten in this season to usher in good fortune.

These two items are also new additions to the club’s Takeaway Specials.

Every Meal Heavy With Symbolism

Chinese New Year Prosperity yusheng from The China Club Singapore with ingredients specially selected to symbolize wealth and longevity
Chinese New Year Prosperity yusheng from The China Club Singapore with ingredients specially selected to symbolize wealth and longevity

Each day of the fifteen-day festivities has a different meaning and the seventh day of the New Year is considered “Everyone’s Birthday”. On that day, a raw fish salad called yusheng is served in the belief that it would bring success. It is said that the higher the salad is tossed, the greater the luck and prosperity in the new year. At The China Club Singapore, you can choose from an array of Prosperity Yusheng replete with luxurious ingredients like lobster, abalone, salmon and lingzhi mushrooms all served with a home-made plum sauce infused with pomelo and lemon juice to ensure a fortune-filled start to the Year of the Tiger.

Says Chef Yim of his style, “A good chef cooks with his patrons in mind. The ones that come to the club like to eat healthily. So, I try not to deep-fry my dishes. Instead, I focus on rich ingredients and cooking styles that allow the flavour of the ingredients to be savoured.”

From the choice of the best ingredients to the mammoth effort put in to prepare the food, it certainly looks like the Chinese do truly believe that you are what you eat!

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