When the Filipino-Chinese community celebrates the Lunar New Year, there will be fireworks and much feasting on auspicious dishes. Like other cultures, the Chinese ascribe certain meanings to key foods and the other elements combined with them.
Even the way a dish is served is important. At Conrad Manila’s China Blue by Jereme Leung, the chef has prepared a Chinese New Year menu that begins with the Yee Sang or Prosperity Toss.
Guests gather ’round a platter arranged with assorted lucky salad ingredients, including raw salmon (“abundance through the year”), although for more texture the chef added crispy shrimp.
Arranged in neat sections are julienned vegetables: carrots (“blessings of good luck”); green radish (“eternal youth”); and white radish (“prosperity in business and promotion at work”).
Limes (“good luck and smooth sailing”) are squeezed over the salad before crushed peanuts (“a household filled with gold and silver”), sesame seeds (“prosperity in business”), and deep-fried flour crisps (“floor full of gold”) are added.
The salad is topped in a circular motion with oil (“smooth relationships”), various spices (“to attract wealth and treasures”) and plum sauce (“May life always be sweet”) before everyone starts tossing the salad and saying out loud their wishes for the New Year.
Don’t worry about the mess that is sure to form around the table; it symbolizes how everyone’s luck and prosperity in the New Year will be abundant and overflowing.
Chef de cuisine Eng Yew Khorr’s other dishes include braised abalone with dried oysters and sea cucumber for success in business and financial prosperity, and stir-fried lobster with golden broth XO sauce for wealth, happiness and prosperity.
He has also come up with tiny green, deep-fried “gourds” filled with smoked duck, and steamed seafood and mushroom “moneybags.” Each delicate bag is made with tofu skin, a savory mouthful bursting with minced fish and mushrooms.
For dessert, the chef and his team have prepared chilled sweetened black glutinous rice with coconut ice cream, and deep-fried crispy banana with Chinese New Year cake (tikoy).
The set menus for 10 at China Blue by Jereme Leung start at P30,000.
Conrad Manila is at Seaside Boulevard, Coral Way, Pasay. Call 6833915.