Archive for Festival Food

December Month Is Full Of Joyous Celebrations

tong-yuen-in-bowl2.jpgA bowl of colourful Tong Yuen, or Glutinous Rice Balls, signifying the Chinese winter Solstice Festival on 22 December

Hi there, dear friends 😀

I just love the month of December! There are so may reasons for me to celebrate December every year :-

1) the weather in Malaysia is much cooler with the rainy season, not as humid and hot as in other months (especially when the Chinese New Year is here). So, December is a really enjoyable, cool month!  😎

2) wooo…hooo…school’s off  until the beginning of next year and I get to have a long break from ferrying my kids to/fro school and tuition centres…plus, I get to sleep in a little later in the morning. When you reach my age, sleep is something that you really cherish a lot! 😆

3) December is when I celebrate my wedding anniversary – this year, I would have being married for 27 years! 😀

4) we get to celebrate the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival or “Tung Jit” in the Cantonese Chinese language on the 22nd and I cook a traditional Tung Jit dinner for my family. Mostly, we look forward to eating the Glutinous Rice Balls in syrup to signify this important day

tung-jit-dinner.jpgOur 2007 Winter Solstice Festival Dinner Spread

5) lastly but not least, the joyous Christmas celebration is here and there is a festive buzz in the air… family looks forward to having a Christmas Turkey Dinner as usual. Just only yesterday my eldest son, Ryan, remarked that he is looking forward to my Turkey Stuffing and he wants me to make a double portion of that this year as he loves it so much! 😆

christmas-eve-dinner-008-custom.jpgMy family’s  Christmas 2007 Turkey Dinner


So, here is to all of you out there who also loves the December month like I do! Happy Holidays to all of you! 😀

With best wishes,

choesf 😀


Comments (5) »

My Chinese New Year 2009 Preparations Part 2 – Planning The Family Reunion Dinner

Good evening, dear friends 😀

On the eve of the Chinese New Year (CNY) , it is a long standing tradition that a Family Reunion Dinner is held, usually at the home of the oldest members of the family. In China, younger folks usually leave their villages in the country side to work in the larger cities.

They would return to their hometown to celebrate the CNYor Spring Festival with their parents or grandparents. So, the older folks back home would prepare a huge lavish meal in joyous anticipation of seeing their children or grandchildren come back home and having a big meal as one big, happy family.

In those days in the Chinese culture, all the extended families would live under one roof….but in the modern times these days, the trend is nuclear families living separately of each other and the parents usually stay with the eldest son and his family. So, on CNY eve, people would go home to their parents’s house and reunite there for dinner – hence, the “Family Reunion Dinner”. 😀


My Family Reunion Dinner last year in 2008

The Chinese like to have auspicious or lucky sounding names for the food prepared for this joyous occasion. This is my Family Reunion Dinner Menu for this year (some traditional dishes are must haves and I chosen other dishes for a change from the usual fare). Heheh, I made up some of the names myself, and it is really up to you to have some fun and be creative about the names.

Family Reunion Dinner Menu 2009
1) Treasure Soup
2) Nin Nin Yau Yue or Surplus of Good Things Every Year (Steamed White Pomfret Fish in Soy Sauce & Fragrant Oil)
3) Beef Up For Prosperity (Beef Slices Stirfried with Lotus Root)
4) Har Har Tai Siew or Big Laughter (Butter Prawns with Curry Leaves)
5) Happy Family Gold Coins (Deep Fried Spring Rolls)
6) Bountiful Harvest (Assorted Colouful Mix Vegetable Stirfry)
7) Auspicious Yummy Parcels (Deepfried Paper Wrapped Chicken)
8 ) Joyous Rainbow Noodles (Green Spinach Noodles stirfried with shredded pork, carrots, Shitake mushrooms, omellete)
Below are some pictures of auspicous Chinese food with the links to the recipes –


Homemade Traditional Spring Rolls or Chun Kuen or “Gold Coins”




Steamed White Pomfret in Soy Sauce or “Nin Nin Yau Yue” or “Every Year There Is Over Abundance”




Treasure Soup


I will post the photos and recipes for this dinner menu next week. I would like to wish you a happy Family Reunion Diner with your loved ones this Sunday! 😀

With peace and joy,

choesf 😀

Comments (9) »

My Deepavali & Hari Raya Haji Festival Food

Good evening, dear friends 😀

I have been feeling under the weather these few days and although I want to write here, my lethargy and “uncooperative brain” is not allowing me to do much. So, seeing as I have some photos taken earlier for you, I’ll just post them all here and add on the recipes later.

On the day of Deepavali (the Hindu Festival of Lights) in October, I cooked a full Indian meal for the first time and my hubby was very impressed. He loves Indian curries but somehow, I thought they were difficult to cook. But then, since I love to celebrate the various culture’s festivals with some unique feasts, I decided to take out my dusty “Malaysian Cookbook” and look up some Indian recipes.

I had also cooked some Rasam (sour soup) and made some cucumber achar, but I forgot to take pictures of them.

Here are pictures of my Deepavali feast –


A creamy, delicious Mutton Curry with carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, coriander leaves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, cardamon, fennel and cumin



Ayam Kurma, which is a very mild (almost non-spicy) Indian Chicken Curry


deepavali-dinner-003-smallNasi Briyani – good quality Basmati Rice cooked with ghee (clarified butter), spices, mint leaves and garnished with crispy, golden fried shallots. Here, some Ayam Kurma gravy has already been poured onto the rice ..


Then, for the Muslim festival called “Hari Raya Aidil Adha”, I cooked some Dried Chicken Curry (Chicken Rendang, Rendang Ayam), Peanut Sauce (Kuah Kacang) and made some Ketupat (Compressed Rice in Coconut Leaf Casings). I finally perfected my Ketupat recipe this time because the other two times, the ketupats were either too sticky or hard.

Here are the pictures for my Hari Raya Haji feast –


Fresh, woven coconut leaf casings for making Ketupat – filled up to 55 % with long grain rice (I used good quality Kedah, a state in the northern region of Malaysia) grown rice, and boiled over low heat in salted water for 4 hours



Cooked Ketupat, ready to be cut into cubes and eaten with Kuah Kacang, Chicken Rendang, some sliced cucumber and raw onion



Kuah Kacang or Peanut Sauce to go with Ketupat or Satay


chicken-rendang-smallMalay Dry Chicken Curry or Chicken Rendang


For my Christmas Roast Turkey Dinner, I had cooked a 15-pound turkey, with mashed potatoes, broccolli, green peas, baby carrots, and a fresh button mushroom stirfry. However, I couldn’t show you their photos because they looked rather dodgy…… :oops:, anyway, I had photos of last year’s Christmas Eve Roast Turkey Dinner here. 😉

I wish you a Happy New Year! 😀

With peace and joy,

choesf 😀

Comments (6) »

Happy Winter Solstice Festival & Tung Jit 2008!

Happy Winter Solstice Festival to you, dear friends from all over the world! 😀

tong-yuens-2008-002-smallMy children made 2 odd Tong Yuen –  a giant ball in the left bowl, and a green “mushroom” in the right bowl! 😆

My family and I have had a great feast today with ample helpings of Tong Yuen or glutinous rice balls in sugar syrup – the symbol of this happy festival. I had cooked so much food that there was enough to serve 7 persons for lunch and dinner, with some leftovers for tomorrow, too! 😆

Preparations for our Winter Solstice Lunch began the day before with the rolling of Tong Yuen…as usual, my kids like to make odd-shaped rice balls and since it was all in the joyous spirit of this festival, I let them do what they wanted. Henced, you can see 2 abnormal Tong Yuen in the picture above! 🙄



I bought the Tong Yuen dough from the market…there were many stalls selling this dough made from groundingpre-soaked glutinous rice into a wet paste and the liquid is removed by putting the “paste” into a muslin bag and hanging it up to dry.   Traditionally, there are only 2 colours, with the much larger portion being white. I had added in other colours for the fun of it. 😆



A tray of multi coloured Tong Yuen freshly rolled out…to be kept in the fridge and cooked the next morning



A pot of freshly cooked Tong Yuen in sugar syrup, flavoured with a few Pandan Leaves. Most people would use a few slices of ginger instead of Pandan Leaves, but my kids don’t like the ginger taste


Because it was going to be a lunch feast instead of dinner, I prepared and marinated the meats the day before and put them in the fridge. As in all meals in celebration of Chinese Festivals, it is essential to have at least on the menu a Roast Pork or Siew Yoke dish, steamed “white cut” chicken, a noodle, a vegetable sitfry, and the popular Pig Stomach White Pepper Soup.  All the food cooked were then offered with prayers to our “ancestors” to celebrate with them the Tung Jut festival, say our thanks for a bountiful year (during ancient times in China, it was for a bountiful harvest instead), and have a reason to be merry on this longest night in the year!

Below are the dishes that I had cooked for my family…today (Monday), I am just going to sit back and relax and buy some takeouts for dinner because I am tired with 2 days of preparation and cooking of this feast. Moreover, I am taking a breather now as tomorrow I will be busy buying stuff to cook my family’s Christmas Eve Roast Turkey Dinner! 😆 



Longevity Noodles – dried flat egg noodles cooked in boiling water for 5 minutes, drained and then stirfried with Chinese cabbage, Mustard Greens, julienned carrot, slices of Shitake mushrooms and pork slices. Oyster sauce and some chicken stock left from steaming the chicken are used to flavour this noodle.



A platter of fresh, homemade yummy crispy Roast Pork Belly or Siew Yoke



Instead of using a whole chicken, I used 3 whole legs instead to make “Steamed White Cut Salted Chicken”



A colourful medley of assorted vegetables stirfried with some “Tau Kan” or wheat gluten – a “Chap Chye” or “Mixed Vegetables”, flavoured with oyster sauce


Malaysian Chinese style of Chicken Potato Curry, very tasty when eaten with the noodles. I cooked this because it has been a tradition in my husband’s family to have Curry Chicken on all festive occasions. 😀



A very delicious, peppery, spicy pork ribs and pig stomach soup…another popular dish or soup to be had during festivals.Only thing was this was the first time that I had cooked this – I will write about this famous soup in another post.


Now, I am planning my Roast Turkey menu and will write about it in a few days time! 😉

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 😀

With peace and joy,

choesf 😀



Comments (10) »

A Period Of Festivals & Celebrations

Good evening, dear friends 😀

Wow, at this year end, things are getting exciting as we have a number of celebrations and festivals. Come this Sunday, 21 December, 2008, the Chinese all over the world will be celebrating the Winter Solstice Festival. Usually, this festival falls on the 22nd of December every year, but as this year is a leap year with an extra day on the 29th February, we are celebrating it on the 21st instead.

I am now planning my menu for my Winter Solstice Lunch but a sure thing on it will be the “Tong Yuen” or Glutinous Rice Balls, a symbol of this important festival. 😀


A bowl of colourful Tong Yuen or Glutinous Rice Balls in Pandan flavoured sugar syrup



My 2007 Winter Solstice Dinner spread – clockwise from the top –

  • Breaded Garlic Pork Chops
  • Chicken & Potato Curry
  • Steamed & Salted Chicken
  • Treasure Soup
  • Hokkien Thick Egg Noodles
  • Fuzhou Fishballs, Mushrooms and Broccoli (centre)

For the recipes of these festival dishes, just click HERE.

The celebration of Tung Jit as this festival is called is a joyous one not only because it is celebrating the Winter Solstic…. but it also signals the start of the preparations for the Chinese New Year, which will fall on 26 January, 2009.

During this short period before Chinese New Year, decluttering and cleaning of the whole house is done to remove all old, stale energies, and to welcome new chi into our homes. Then the necessary Feng Shui cures and enhancers are place to ensure a smooth and prosperous year 2009.

After that, it is shopping and shopping of new year goodies ranging from auspicious sounding foodstuffs, waxed meat imported from China, auspicious Chinese decorations, new clothes and shoes…..and oh, I forgot…there will be lots of baking done for Chinese New Year cookies. Wow, as I am typing this, I am already excited about all these! 😆

The Chinese gets very excited with the new lunar year because with it, new energies, prosperity and happiness are ushered in for rest of the lunar 2009 year.

Then the next week, we will be having a Christmas Eve dinner with all the trimmings to celebrate Christmas with the rest of the world…wow, another great festival with all the yummy feasting. 😀


My 2007 Christmas Dinner Eve Homecooked Dinner



My plate of yummy Christmas turkey, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, stuffing and broccoli last year

I will post here later the pictures and recipes for my festivals as we celebrate these joyous occasions! 😉

Happy Winter Solstice Festiva, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 😀

With peace, harmony and joy,

choesf 😀

P.S. For those of you overseas who would like to celebrate this Winter Solstice Festival with me and would like to make your own Glutinous Rice Balls from glutinous rice flour, let me know by leaving a comment here and I will post a recipe for you. I buy freshly ground wet glutinous rice from the markets here.

Added on 18  December, 2008 –

I am happy to see there are a few of you who are interested in making your own “Tong Yuen” or Glutinous Rice Balls. Good, we can celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival together. It is a Chinese belief that when we eat the Tong Yuen on that day, it will mean that we are getting one year older! I remember during those few  years when  I was living in the US, I didn’t eat any Tong Yuen and therefore, I should be 5 years younger in my   Chinese age! 🙄

Here is the recipe for Tong Yuen –

Ingredients –

125 gm glutinous rice flour

25 gm rice flour

150 ml boiling water

Method –

1) Combine glutinous rice and rice flours in a mixing bowl.

2) Pour in boiling water.

3) Mix with a pair of chopsticks or a fork.

4) When the mixture is cool enough to handle, knead it for a few minutes until it is well mixed, smooth and pliable. If you find the dough is too dry, then add in a little more water.

5) Divide dough into portions and add in your favourite colours. Traditionally, the Tong Yuen are just in white and pink..but I had added in green and yellow colours just for the fun of it! 😆

6) Pinch off small portions and roll in small balls, about 1 cm in diameter. While you are doing this, prepare 2 pots of water – one pot is for cooking the rice balls…..and the other pot will contain    your “sweet soup” of sugar syrup.

7) For the sweet soup or sugar syrup, just bring to boil the following ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes and then turn off the fire : –

  • 1 litre water
  • 200 gms sugar
  • 2 to 3 slices fresh ginger, or 2 pieces of Pandan Leaves or 1 tsp of Pandan Flavour

Traditionally, slices of ginger are added for flavour…so, it is more like a ginger syrup. But because my children don’t like the taste of ginger, I have decided to use a few pandan leaves to flavour the syrup instead of ginger and it is just as aromatic. 😉

8) To cook the rice balls, put about 20 balls at a time into a pot of boiling water. They will sink to the bottom. Once the balls float to the surface, this means they are cooked.

9) Remove cooked rice balls with a slotted spoon and put them into the pot of  sugar syrup.

Voila! Your very own Tong Yuen are ready to be served as dessert after your Winter Solstice Dinner or just as a tea time “Tong Sui” or “Sugar Water Drink”…a teatime dessert. I usually keep my Tong Yuen in the fridge if there are any leftovers and then just warm up some in the microwave the following day. The rice balls will harden in the fridge.

I hope you like the taste of Tong Yuen. My children gets very excited and will have at least 2 bowls of  this once-a-year Rice Ball Dessert after dinner.

Note – the portion for the recipe here is quite small…..for my family of 6 with huge appetites, I make about 1 kg worth of wet glutinous rice flour. But for those making this for the first time, start small and if you like this, you can always make another batch in a very short time! 😉

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My Family’s Hari Raya Feasting

Good morning, dear friends 😀

…and a Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to my Muslim friends here, too! 😀

My family also enjoyed the Hari Raya festive spirit in a muhibbah way and I cooked up a storm with some yummy traditional Malay dishes. On the eve of Hari Raya, I had spent the whole day in the kitchen, cooking 40 Ketupat (rice in casings weaved from coconut leaves), 2 kilos of Beef Rendang (Dry Beef Curry) and a pot of Kuah Kacang (Peanut or Satay Sauce)…. they were to be had on the first day of Hari Raya but ……my hubby and children were already drooling over these Malay delicacies that in the end, because they couldn’t wait, we had them for dinner instead…on the eve of Hari Raya! 🙄 😆

My Hari Raya Eve’s dinner – a bowl of Kuah Kacang, some sliced cucumbers, Beef Rendang, and some cut-up Ketupat 😀

A large bowl of cooked Ketupat ( RECIPE HERE)


For our Hari Raya Brunch, I cooked a simple Nasi Lemak with Malaysian Fried Chicken, simple Potato & Cabbage curry (sort of like a Sayur Masak Lodeh) and Sambal and the Beef Rendang from the day before also complemented the Nasi Lemak.

My hubby’s plate of Hari Raya Brunch – Nasi Lemak (Fragrant Coconut Rice) with sliced cucumbers/tomatoes, Sambal, Beef Rendang, Malaysian Fried Chicken, Fried Ikan Bilis, Potato & Cabbage Curry 😀

Malaysian Style Crispy Fried Chicken

Potato & Cabbage Curry (similar to Sayur Masak Lodeh)

Spicy Sambal/Chili

Continuing on with our Hari Raya celebratory mood, I decided on the spur of the moment to cook some Chicken Satay for dinner, something I hadn’t done in 20 years because we always had satay bought from the Malay stalls…..but riding on the tide of Malay food, I thought having homemade satay was a fantastic idea. The only problem was my satay was grilled in the oven, instead of over some hot charcoals (which would have made the satay more authentic and flavourful) …. but luckily, my hubby and children loved the taste of my satay very much and I was much relieved! Phew! 😆

Chicken Satay (recipe at the bottom of page)

….and my family’s Hari Raya feasting came a full circle..for the Chicken Satay complemented the Ketupat and Kuah Kacang perfectly! Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri 2008! 😀

My dinner plate of homemade Kuah Kacang, Beef Rendang, Ketupat and Chicken Satay 😀

I will be posting the recipes and more pictures for each of the Malay food here and put their links here as well for easy finding! 😉

Added on 29 June, 2009 Easy Chicken Satay Recipe

500 gm of chicken breasts – cleaned and cut into cubes

1 tbsp salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 tbsp or more sugar (usually satay is a little sweet)

1 tbsp cumin powder

1 tbsp fennel powder

1 tbsp coriander powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

3 shallots and 2 cloves garlic, pounded

5 tbsps of thick coconut milk

Method :- Mix chicken with the rest of the ingredients. Set aside for an hour to marinate (overnight is better). Skewer with bamboo sticks. Brush a little oil before grilling in the oven. The satay  tastes best if grilled over some charcoals. You can adjust the amount of the spices in the marinade to suit your tastes. 😉

Note – soak the bamboo skewers in water for a few hours. This prevents them from burning. 💡

Bon Appetit! 😀

Comments (4) »

Easy Yummy Honey Teriyaki Chicken


Good evening, dear friends 😀

Before I proceed with this recipe, I would like to explain why I often call my recipes “Easy” and “Yummy” (hehe, in case you are wondering how come my recipes are all that! 🙄 ). Well, I want to encourage those of you who are not used to cooking, or cooking the kind of recipes here to try my recipes……. and  I bet that for those of you that did try my recipes, you would have indeed found them to be quite easy to follow, yes? 😆

The “Yummy” part comes in because to me, any homecooked food is always delicious, even if it is as simple as  you lovingly frying two sunny side eggs for breakfast for your husband.  😉

Now, back to the Teriyaki Chicken – this was one of the dishes that I cooked for my Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner last month and it is another simple but really tasty chicken recipe that kids will love.

Ingredients –

2 large whole chicken legs, deboned & with skin  (you can use breast meat too, but kids usually find breast meat a bit dry) – washed and pat dry with paper kitchen towels

Marinade –

2 tbsps oyster sauce

2 tbsps soy sauce (Japanese type shoyu is better but the Chinese type will do, too)

1 tsp salt

2 tbsps mirin or rice wine or any wine

2 tbsps ginger juice

2 tbsps finely minced garlic (I pounded mine in a pestle & mortar)

1 tbsp sugar (brown sugar is better)

1 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp pepper

Other ingredients –

2 tbsps honey

2 tbsps butter & 2 tbsps cooking oil

Method –

1) Marinate chicken with the mentioned ingredients, and massage thoroughly for about 5 minutes. Set aside for about 2 hours. If don’t have the time to wait for this, then massage the chicken for 10 minutes.

2) In a non-stick pan, heat up the oil and butter.

3) Put in the 2 chicken legs, skin side down. After 2 minutes, lower heat to medium and cover the pan. Cook for about 3 more minutes this way.

4) Turn chicken gently to the other side, and cook covered for another 3 minutes.

5) Pour in the honey and make sure the chicken is well coated with it. 

6) Turn off the fire, cover the pan again to let the chicken finish cooking. This way, the chicken will be tender and juicy inside.

7) Cut chicken into serving sizes when it is cool enough to handle (about 20 minutes later). After skimming some of the oil off the chicken juices, dribble some sauce over the chicken pieces and garnish accordingly.

Bon Appetit! 😀 

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