Gong Hey Fat Choy!

Happy Chinese New Year! We have entered the year of the snake. Hiss. Apparently the snake is the humanitarian of the zodiac, and focus and discipline will be needed in this year of steady progress and attention to detail. More importantly than all of that though, is that Chinese New Year is an amazingly good excuse for a celebratory feast! Who knew?!

Apparently I talk about food a lot, as for Christmas my lovely, subtle hint receiving partner in crime bought me a big, fat cleaver (brave man!), and Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice. Tools in hand, I felt readily equipped for my first foray into Chinese feasting. All I needed now were ingredients, and I knew just the place to go. I popped down to Crystal's Palace and the tiny shop was full of gossiping people indulging in drinks and lovely Chinese munchies, whilst shopping and clearly having a good celebration. It was lovely. I also got fantastic assistance finding my necessary ingredients, and after buying was told that my bags were "too heavy!", and the lovely proprietor even carried my shopping to my car. What service! Something you really don't see anymore, well, I certainly don't. I highly recommend a visit to Crystal's for the top notch service, atmosphere and ingredients!

The dishes were flavoursome, even the tofu was accepted by all the meat eaters, which was surprising. Have a gander, Goosey. Please excuse the photo quality, the light was quite poor.

Silken Tofu with Soy Sauce. I could only get my hands on plain tofu, and despite it's basic appearance, this was surprisingly yummy.

Preserved Duck Eggs. Wonderful things. I'd never had them before, but will certainly be having them again. Once you get over their appearance, the eating is extremely pleasurable. This was also a much more striking dish in person. It received oohs and appreciation and everything.

Smoky Aubergines with Garlic. I loved this dish, but I really enjoy smoky flavours, some of my guests had problems with aubergine anyway, so it was slightly less popular at the party. Also, it is listed as a cold dish, but I think it may be more palatable and less like squished banana if warmed up before serving.

Pock-Marked Old Woman's Tofu. Sounds hideous, but was the first dish to be emptied. Extremely scrumptious and quite fiery. A big hit that I will definitely make again. So much flavour. Oh, I'm dribbling again.

Egg Fried Rice. It wouldn't be a Chinese meal without it really.

Smacked Cucumber in Garlicky Sauce. There is no picture for this dish as I covered the damn thing up and forgot about it. Consequently I have eaten a lot of garlicky cucumber in the following days.

For desert we had Christmas pudding- obviously! I had made my first ever puds this Christmas- all gluten free- and we hadn't got around to eating one yet. With both families around, it seemed like the perfect time to tuck in. I knocked up my first ever homemade custard (who knew that was so easy?!), and the pudding was actually really bloody nice and incredibly light. I wish I'd written my recipe down. Ah well, next year...


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