Yesterday was grandma's 84th birthday. We had been celebrating her birthday since 2007, and it was always a different day in the year because she uses the lunar calendar to set the date. To her, there is nothing more more important than family gatherings. And any typical Chinese families, family gatherings without food is not considered one.
Our feast hadn't been changed since some donkey years ago. Maybe some dishes had been ditched to a new one, but mostly are just the same one every year. No matter how often our family had been munching the same dish every year, there is very little sign of monotony. For her grandchildren, we had been eating her food since we could ever remember, so our taste buds have been so accustomed to it.
So let's start introducing the feast with the "Tan family" cuisines.
Typically, we start the dinner with meatball. They are made of ground pork, ground shrimp, dried shrimp, plain flour and potato starch. Then they are made into balls and deep-fried. The good thing about these is they're always better the next day and even better the next. No re-frying needed, just put them in the oven.
Then, we have the seasoned jelly-fish. It's always made the day before, and the amount of vinegar, sugar and chilly is essential.
The next dish is universally Chinese, it's the "Lap Cheong" or Chinese sausages. They simply steamed, and used some minced garlic, vinegar, and chilly for the dipping.
A chicken dish is next. We had the boiled chicken, with stir-fried scallions and garlic as the seasonings (READ: Pak Cham Kee). In our family, we are very very strict about eating only free-range chicken. And there is no better way to cook them than this method (Not even KFC, or Ayam Bakar Babeh). Free-range chicken is less-fatty, less-chemically-enhanced, and the taste is incomparable than their cousins in the cages.
The next dish is kinda new to us. It's a combination of grilled sweet corn, some mixed nuts, ground pork and dried scallops. It's was really weird at first, but as you chew the corn and mixed nuts, the sweet corn juice makes the dish totally refreshing.
Then, next is stewed sea cucumbers with pork meat, shiitake mushrooms and cuttlefish. Very distinct Chinese dish, each Chinese ethnic groups have different cooking method, ours is a typical Hakka dish.
Not much seafood? wait for the next one. It's fried garoupa fish (I think). Very simple friend fish with sweet and sour sauce sprinkled on top.
For soup, we have the usual fish-ball soup. We didn't actually make the fish-ball ourselves, got them from a nearby market.
Of course this wouldn't be a a birthday bash if there weren't any noodle dish. This one very very messy dish is the highlight of the meal. Our noodle is stir-fried with ground pork, shrimps, cuttlefish, fish-ball, chicken gizzards, bean sprouts and garlic chives.
We had Tamarillo mocktail for desert, but I forgot to snap a picture. It's blended tamarillo fruits mixed with a wee bit of tamarillo syrup and Sprite. The perfect desert after such a hearty meal.