Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Significance of Ang Pows 红包/利事 and Chinese New Year Greetings

This year, according to the lunar calendar and the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2014 is the Year of the Horse and falls on the 31st January 2014. It is celebrated by Chinese all over the world. Lunar New Year denotes new beginnings and a fresh start.
This is a time of celebration, reunion, forgiveness, sharing and thanksgiving. This is the day Ang Pow plays an important part of our Chinese tradition.
Ang Pow or red packet is commonly known as “Lai See”. Ang Pow is extremely auspicious among the Chinese community.
The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is supposed to ward off evil spirits.
It’s also a gift of money which symbolizes blessings, good luck, good health and success.
We usually put brand new notes (but not necessary) inside red envelopes. I don’t mind getting old notes as long as it’s legal tender, hahaha!
Besides Chinese New Year, Lai See is also given during weddings and birthdays. It’s a tradition to give Ang Pows to children or those who are still single during Chinese New Year.
As working or married adults, we also give Lai See to our elders ie. grandparents, parents, parents-in-laws, and our loved ones. My hubby gives me Ang Pow too during Chinese New Year. Likewise, my parents and in-law also give Ang Pows to their daughters-in-law, sons-in-law and also married children. It’s always an honour to receive red packets sealed with blessings and good wishes regardless of the amount of money received.  
My children have been taught and advised not to open the ang pows they received in front of others out of courtesy. They usually keep their ang pows received until the 15th day of the Chinese New Year; that’s Chap Goh Mei, and only open the red packets to count how much they have received before I keep it for them in their bank account.
Chinese are very particular when giving or receiving money during any auspicious or happy occasions such as Chinese New Year, weddings, birthdays, etc.
For the benefits of my foreign and non-Chinese readers, should you need to give money as a gift to a Chinese friend during a happy occasion, always remember it must be in red packets or pink envelopes.
Please bear in mind that money as a gift in a white envelope is a BIG NO, NO. This is only given as ‘Pak Kam’ (white gold) which is being donated to a deceased family so as to ease their financial burden for any funeral expenses incurred.
Asian Chinese get offended easily when receiving money in white envelopes!! So, my dear friends, should you need to give money as a gift to any of your Chinese friends or business associates, always use RED PACKETS for happy occasions and white envelopes to a deceased family.
It’s also common practice in Chinese organisation where employers give Ang Pows to employees as bonus before the office closed  for the Chinese New Year and on the day when the company reopens for business after Chinese New Year holidays.
Banks, big organisations, insurance companies, departmental stores, and shops distribute free Ang Pow packets to their customers.
In the olden days, Ang Pows were usually a red piece of paper where money is wrapped inside. 
However, time has changed and the design and artwork of the Lai See has improved in many ways. Ang Pow packets come in attractive designs.
These designs can be in carps, peonies in full bloom, golden mandarin oranges, golden pineapples, Chinese zodiac animals in accordance to the relevant year, etc. Each design has a different motif that is significant to the Chinese New Year.
Over the years, I have been collecting some truly attractive and beautiful Ang Pow packets. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my dearest sister who have recently generously given me some of her limited collection of beautiful Ang Pow packets.
Thanks Dear !!!
Let’s gallop confidently into a healthy and prosperous year of the Horse with abundance of good luck, remarkable achievements and an endless journey of successful goals and dreams!!!
Gong Xi Fatt Chai !!!


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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Refreshing Chinese Pear and Aloe Vera with Eucheuma Seaweed

Are you looking for a simple yet refreshing, cooling and healthy desserts or drinks?  To some, edible bird's nest is the best choice but not everyone can afford or willing to spend on it.   Why don't you consider Eucheuma Seaweed  aka Sea Bird's Nest.  It's relatively cheap and affordable to all and has the same nutritional values as bird's nest.  You can easily get Eucheuma from any Chinese Medical shop.

I have previously posted a  healthy and refreshing dessert using Eucheuma Seaweed  or 珊 瑚 草/ 海 燕 窝 in Chinese.

Eucheuma is a type of seaweed that grows in different colors either green, purple or brown.
This seaweed is rich in enzyme nutrients, minerals, calcium, iron and jelly form proteins. It is especially good for vegetarian diet and daily fiber diet intake. It grows naturally and contains no artificial fertilizer or chemical.
How to clean/ prepare Eucheuma Seaweed:
1)  Dried Eucheuma has to be rinsed and washed 5 to 6 times. Then soaked for at least 5 hours.

2)  Remember to keep changing the water for at least 4 to 5 times. Take note that gradually, it turns transparent, soft and expands in size.

3) Lastly, rinse again with clean water and drain.  Store in a container and keep it in the refrigerator.  

4) Or, boil the rinsed Eucheuma with water (300gm Eucheuma with 1.5 litre water).  Keep stirring  until completely dissolved.  Allow it to cool before transferring it into a container.  Chill it in the fridge for it to set.  It stays good for 3 to 4 weeks.

5)  You can add this healthy Sea Bird's Nest Jelly to any of your favorite beverages or just mix it with water or fruit juice of your choice.

Kelp is another type of healthy and nutritious seaweed that I like to cook for my family.  For more info on the nutritional and its uses, do click at the following links.
Seaweed Chicken Soup

Refreshing Chinese Pear and Aloe Gel with Eucheuma

Ingredients : (to taste)
- 2 Chinese pears (peeled and cut into cubes)
- 1 cup of aloe vera gel (peeled and cut)
- 1 tbsp goji berries (washed)
- honeycomb sugar
- some pandan leaves (pandanus/screw pine)
- 4 bowls of hot water

Method :
1) Put everything into a double boiler and double boil for 30 minutes over high heat.
2)  Serve warm with a scoop of Eucheuma jelly (pls refer to the above on "How to clean/ prepare Eucheuma Seaweed").
Refreshing, cooling and rejuvenating
Easy and hassle free yet healthy dessert

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Thursday, 9 January 2014

Simple Pan-Fried Norwegian Blue Mackerel with Apple Sauce

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First of all, my sincere apologies to all my readers and followers for my irregular posting as I have been quite busy lately.  Will try my best to post from time to time as and when I can steal some time.  Don't worry, I am still around and it's just that I do get rather busy every now and then.  So, do bear with me, ok? 
Hugs and muaks to you all :)  
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This is my 1st posting to start off the year 2014. For your info, this is not a new dish but has been sitting in my album for quite sometime.  
Besides Salmon, Norwegian Blue Mackerel is also our most favorite fish.  It's yummy even  just with a simple pan fried and seasoned with some soy sauce.  A simple dish like this can see my children grinning like a Cheshire cat!!  However, once in a while if I am not in a hurry or if an inspiration struck me on the spur of the moment, I would try something different, ie pan fried it with pandan leaves.  This time, while I was about to start frying the blue mackerel, I realized that I still have a bottle of apple sauce sitting in the pantry.  Oh yeah.... why not try something different?  So, the end result? All thumbs up from my family members!!!  Do give this a try and you will thank me for it too! 

Ingredients :
- 3 Norwegian Blue Mackerel Fillets (cleaned, slit and marinated with some salt)
- 1 tsp butter
Seasonings : (to taste)
- salt
- Traditional Worcester Sauce
- Apple sauce

Method :
1)  Heat a tsp of butter in a pan and arrange the fillets on it.  I used Happy Call Pan.
2)  Pan fry over medium low heat until both sides are slightly brown.
3)  Turn off the heat.
4)  Drizzle some Worcester sauce on both sides of the fillet.  
5)  Then, spread some apple sauce on top of the fillets.  Remember to pan fry the fish with the heat off to prevent the sauce from burning.
6)  Dish up and serve.
Notice that there are some burnt on the skin?  So, it's very important to remember to turn off the heat before you drizzle the Worcester sauce and the apple sauce.  Mine is still slightly burnt even though I had turn off the heat!!
Some slight burnt is perfectly okay as it has that smoky fragrant flavor.  The skin is crispy too :)
Besides, the slightly smoky with a tangy sweet apple sauce flavor is simply yummy!
Have a wonderful day ahead and thanks for dropping by :)
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