new year food

popiah steamboat

steamboat2 copy copy

It's Chinese New Year! Gong xi fa cai! Chinese New Year goes for 15 days and our family tradition is to have a meal together on the eve and on the last day.

I'm on my own this year but the food we had over the regular new year is similar to what we do for CNY and actually, my grandmother is pretty gracious about making my favorite food every time I go back to see her. My favorites are curry and her rendition of the Foochow classic, Kampua mee.

Oh yes, I'm Foochow, the majority dialect of Sibu, Sarawak. I grew up never quite knowing how to explain that to my friends. Basically, my ancestors are from Fuzhou in China and most of them migrated to Sibu in East Malaysia.

Back to the food, on New year's eve, my grandmother made Foochow fried noodles and Foochow popiah. She made some other sides but those were pretty ordinary.  The popiah filling, if you've noticed, is unlike the usual Hokkien popiah that's pretty common in Singapore. Unlike Hokkien popiah, Foochow popiah filling is like a stew and everything other than the skin is cooked in one pot. Last year, she made both these items during one of my trips but because I was late, there wasn't quite enough popiah filling left. So as I sat there laying out my popiah skin and eyeing the last of the filling, my grandfather pointed out that I could put the noodles in with the filling and to illustrate, made his own hybrid, which I have now dubbed the Po-dle. It can be a bit of a carb overload, but no one worries about carbs when my grandmother cooks. It was absolutely delicious and I make one or two hybrids every time my grandmother makes these even if there's enough popiah filling.

For dinner that same day, we had steamboat, I definitely had a food baby that night. Our steamboat has evolved over the years and now marries traditional soup stock with ingredients from both Chinese and Japanese cultures. My mother usually goes to the Japanese supermarket to pick up vegetables and thinly sliced meats. All that paired with rice, soy sauce and homemade chilli and you've got yourself a feast.

My stomach is growling just thinking about it. Hope you have a fantastic Chinese New Year!