Today is the 15th day of the Chinese Lunar calendar and if I was back home in Malaysia, I would be celebrating Chap Goh Mei with my family and friends. This is what we consider as the last day of the Lunar festival and we gather to feast as always. It is in our customary to feast in any occasion or at least we make it a reason and when we do, it is a 10-course Chinese set menu; dishes ranging from appetiser, soup, fish, chicken, pork, duck, noodles, rice, vegetable and dessert. We will always cook more than we can eat so that we have leftovers which means we will have more than we need for the entire year.
I know it is a very strange belief since wasting food isn't really a good habit to have but in our Chinese belief, this is a MUST especially during the first 15 days of the Lunar calendar. And for centuries, this has been an ongoing practice in many Chinese homes, at least to what I know.
2021 Lunar New Year marks a different celebration and also a reminder of what we had gone through the year before. It all started one year ago at the beginning of the 2020 Lunar New Year - the awareness of Covid-19 to the world. We all yearn that with the new Lunar Year, all bad things will be washed away and we can begin to re-build what is left behind. Which is also the reason why we have this dish, Yee Sang.
This dish was originally only known to Malaysian folks and had then evolved its presence to our neighbouring country, Singapore. Now, during the Lunar New Year, we will gather for this dish and toss our hearts out while shouting words of blessings and hope. The louder we shout and the higher we toss, the greater our chance to have our wishes come true. Many a times, the tossing ends up outside the serving plate which is also good as that would mean that there will be an overflow abundance of goodness for everyone.
Unfortunately, in Vietnam, one can only find this dish in several Singaporean owned Chinese restaurants and they charge very high for this dish since some of the ingredients have to be imported. Thankfully for me, I had earlier asked a fellow colleague to buy a pre-packed Loh Sang from Singapore. Of course, I still had to add in the fresh ingredients such red & white carrots, turnips, cucumber and mangoes - all sliced thinly. Not forgetting the most important ingredient, fresh salmon thinly sliced and marinated with pepper and lime.
I served this dish for the Reunion Dinner on the 11 February when a few of my friends gathered to welcome the Lunar New Year. Since they were from Korea, they had never experienced this before as such, they were very excited to witness it for the first time. Even their children had a fun time with the tossing.
Each of us brought one dish and before we know it the entire table was filled with food. It was indeed a delightful way to celebrate the Lunar New Year; with new friends and new experiences. After all, 2021 is different for all of us but it's up to us to make it better & brighter.