Today is the second day of the Lunar Calendar and is also the day where Cantonese will have our “Hoi Nin”. In our tradition, “Hoi Nin” means start of a year and “Hoi Nin Fan” that is the meal for “Hoi Nin” also signifies the start of a new year.
For those doing business, they will usually have various dishes with auspicious names, for example: Steamed dried oyster with black moss, steamed shiitake mushrooms in oyster sauce etc. For normal people like us, our “Hoi Nin Fan” is much simpler. We usually have some more dishes as compared to our daily life and we will treat this as a gathering where we can share and dine with our dearest family.
For the past few years, “Hoi Nin Fan” were prepared by my elder brother who is a very good home cook. With my recent attempt to make Lo Bak Gou for the Chinese New Year celebration, I proposed to take up and cook the “Hoi Nin Fan” this year.
Subjected to my limited cooking skills, I will only prepare the following dishes for the “Hoi Nin Fan”:
- Braised Shiitake Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce 蠔油炆冬菇
- Braised Ox-tail with Red Wine 紅酒燴牛尾
- Steamed Pomfret with Black Bean Sauce 豉汁蒸黃𩶘䱽
- Fried Broccoli with Fatty Beef 西蘭花炒肥牛肉
- Green Radish, Carrot, Corn & Pork Soup 青紅蘿蔔粟米豬𦟌湯
- Poached Chicken 白切雞 (外賣)
Chinese New Year is the most important holiday for us. Most of the shops & restaurant are closed during the holiday and will only return to service on the fourth or fifth day of the Lunar calendar. This arrangement also applies to stalls in fresh market and usually only one or two stalls selling fresh pork and vegetables will be opened to provide us with fresh fishes and vegetable for the “Hoi Nin Fan”.
I have already bought all my required ingredients on the Chinese New Year eve and just leave the Pomfret and pork to today.
Since braised ox-tail with red wine requires more preparation, I cooked it yesterday to save time.
For braised Shiitake Mushrooms and soup that both requires slow-cook, my wife and I started to cook them early this morning.
Ingredients and other prior preparation works for the rest of the dishes are also readied in the afternoon.
In the evening while I’m wondering how to handle and ensure the Pomfret is properly cooked, my savior (my elder brother) arrived. With some simple tricks, the Pomfret is cleaned and steamed to exactly what it should be.
My elder sister also arrived with her family. Bringing with them a traditional chinese vegetarian dish.
Together we eat, chat and have a wonderful “Hoi Nin Fan”.