One week before Chinese New Year and there's so much busyness you can feel it all around. I don't even bother to go to the city because of the traffic. I hate having to queue on the road, queue at the check-out counters, queue to get out of parking lots. Another thing I absolutely hate this time of the year is the crazy, noisy CNY music. Absolutely hate it, nearly as much as I hate the wooden clucking of Dutch folk music.
I was just at Thai Seng Supermarket last week and people were buying canned food, cooking oil, Chinese winter sausages and all those CNY stuff and I was thinking "Am I the only one who hasn't started doing anything about CNY?" So I grabbed some cassava flour, some sugar, some veggies from Hong Kong (they have sweet pea sprouts for the first time, so there's no need to them get from Hong Kong) and I got home and made prawn crackers. We haven't had the sun for weeks and the last two days when I needed it, the sun came out. Somebody does like me. The prawn crackers turned out perfect, smooth, full of flavor and they puffed about four times their size. Again, I urge you to make your own prawn crackers because there's no way commercial prawn crackers are made with prawns.
The fried prawn crackers expanded more than four times the original size. Specks of minced prawns are visible, unlike commercial prawn crackers which are clear and translucent before frying.
I made chi ku chips too. This year, I didn't peel the chi gu to keep the fiber and also to reduce wastage. I over-fried them but no matter, they are still delicious.
With the huge CNY meals looming ahead, I've cut back on my intake of carbs so that I won't spill out of my new dress. CNY is that time of the year when we are likely to meet friends we haven't seen since the previous CNY so there's tremendous pressure to look better or at least unaged. With all the busyness, or the busyness in being busy, I'm taking it easy and a meal can be just fried veggies with winter sausages or la rou (Chinese bacon). On our visits to China in the wintry months, la rou and la chang are always on the menu. In the villages and smaller towns, every family makes their own la rou and la chang. I am so blessed every year because my friends from China would get their moms to make extra la rou and la chang for me, and since one friend is from Sichuan and the other from Jiangxi, I get different varieties of la rou and la chang. Home-made la rou la chang are SO different, SO SO much more delicious and fresher than those in the stores.
If you are wondering what to cook during this busy period, just slice some Chinese sausages or la rou or both (I used home-made Sichuan sausages and store-bought Cantonese la rou) and toss with with a bit of veg oil in a smoking hot wok or frying pan, add parboiled veg, sprinkle some salt and rice wine over and that's a light dish that goes well with rice.
Kailan stems are all stems and no leaves, available this time of the year. Very crunchy and sweet.
And now excuse me while I run off to make pineapple tarts and almond crisps.