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Happy 2007 :)

January 02, 2007


Happy 2007 everyone! :)
I’ve celebrated New Years Eve with the same people eating the same foods cooked by the same person every year for as long as I can recall. And it’s nice to know that no matter who goes where or who does what, our entire family in Hawaii all reconvenes once a year for a evening meal cooked by my grandma.

We start with a large pot of shark’s fin soup – eaten only twice a year, once during the American new years and once during the Chinese new years. The soup is thick and deeply flavored with shark’s fins and generous chunks of fresh crabmeat. My grandma spoons out bowl for everyone, making sure we all get our equal share, and always, an extra bit of meat for the youngest one, who happens to be my sister. We garnish it with cilantro and boiled bean sprouts and just a tip of red vinegar.

There’s also pig’s feet, thinly sliced and meant to be dipped in a spicy nuoc nam and eaten over hot rice. I am addicted to the interplay of textures between the meat, tendon, skin and fat – they all simply meld together with the utmost easy once placed in your mouth, at once salty and tender.

The steamed fish is my favorite and I go through bowls and bowls of rice with this darling. I enthusiastically spoon the ginger-soy sauce along with cuts of green onions and ginger over rice and take turns, rice, fish, rice, fish. And the whole fish, head to tail, is gone before you know. I’ve yet to learn how to appreciate the head of the fish which is always saved for my mom.

And the wide assortment of choy lightly stir-fried together. I can only names the black hairy moss, strips of fried bean curd and mushrooms, but they are all there for a purpose. Each veggie represents something we all hope for in the new year, ranging from strength, fortune and health.

Since we live in Hawaii and get sashimi like no other, we must take advantage of it! Besides, it’s a local tradition. News concerning sashimi sales and quality for the new years weekend made the front page of The Honolulu Advertiser twice this week – that’s how obsessed we are about our fish! The finest cuts for this evening :)

And some extra special slices…

After dinner, we all hang around the outside garage, fireworks, old talk, pictures. And when the smoke gets to be too much, some of us move inside to snack on tangerines and ginger tea, watching Jet Li movies in Chinese with English subtitles. At midnight, the long string of firecrackers go off and we gather back out in the cool night, admiring the fireworks set off in union from neighbors both near and far.

Because it has been such a long night, my grandma prepared midnights treats to usher in new year. Soft white and pink mochi balls in a warm sweet ginger soup. It is mellow and soothing in a way you always expect and am grateful to receive.

To complement the sweet, freshly steamed char siu baos, snowy white, fluffy yet substantial, harboring a hot savory mound of char siu. I cannot decide whether I love the baos or the soup more, so I keep going. A bowl of soup, then a bao, then soup, and bao…it’s blissful bite and sip, one right after another.

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