|Abalone, sea cucumber and all that to restore the body's inner health.|
|Penang's Chinese demographic cannot shake off its penchant for the three treasures at each restaurant dinner - the marinated cut chilis, the garlic and the soy sauce.|
|Rice noodles - the sar hor fun - with a mocktail.|
|Delicately braised tender scallops served with steamed broccoli.|
|The Beijing duck, accompanied by wraps and a light pomelo and prawn cold salad.|
|Types of Chinese smoked tea, taken hot without any other addition to taste, palate and texture.|
|Birds nest soup in a light broth of coolness.|
Celebrating the seventh day of the Chinese New Year, traditionally to commemorate the birth of humankind, my group had an elegant experience of what Cantonese can do in cuisine. We aimed for things away from the usual banquets that are served all over the city, the country and really, the East Asian region and south-east Asia in these two weeks of festive delight, gatherings and celebration. We did not want the roast meat nor the noodles laden with seafood. We wanted something more delicate, creations that made more use of the inherent flavours of ingredients and showed the potential of carefully combined items when served on a plate.
We had contrasts of duck with a light pomelo laden salad. The unavoidable gaminess of an essentially wet fowl has been balanced with the freshness of a rather light citrus! We are against the harvesting of sharks fins, so we chose the restorative powers of other sea creatures. We wanted each dish to have meaning to mark the arrival of another Lunar New Year. And we still wanted to eat a share of greens.
There is a long standing proverb in China that it is fortunate to be born in Guangzhou, for its cuisine has reputedly been the best in over a thousand years. Harmony is desired in all eastern Asian cultures, the perpetual balancing of the yin and yang. Even when partaking food at the table, Chinese all over the world consider their cultural heritage. This is especially appreciated as we look over the past and focus our eyes and heart to the future. We are so through the festive rush, as epitomised by the traffic, vehicle parking and noisy dinner halls - but we relish the opportunity to meet, synchronise hearts amongst long standing friends and have a reunion with family and more.