It's your boy, the Snacktivist. Chinese New Year is a time when kin and kith from near and far, reunite around a big meal as they lob questions, well-wishes and accusations at one another. Money will sometimes be offered in scarlet packets to forgive all transgressions incurred during said meal. Then, when all is said and done, these families will disperse and disappear until the next CNY.
Leo Tolstoy wrote something about how "happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way". While the unhappiness can be attributed to a host of factors, the same can be said that an accepted set of facets can lead to happiness. We are of the camp that the common denominator for a happy family is the food. Especially during a CNY dinner. Maybe.
And Sunday Catering has their own specials for this CNY period: the Eight Treasure Glutinous Rice with Abalone, the Eight Treasure Roast Pork Belly, and the Chestnut Siu Yuk. They offered to send it over for us to review. Since our bodies never recovered from pandemic-induced eating in time for CNY, we thought, why not? Damage's been done.
Our bodies won't be in trim-form by CNY but it's oh so worth it. Let's start with the breakdown of the Chestnut Siu Yuk. Weighing in at 2kg, this staple of any CNY dinner is the result of the pig's steady diet of chestnuts. There are two steps to this: the first is the slow-and-low-roasting process that renders the fat and brings the meat to a slightly tender chew than most of the siu yuk out there. This doesn't dry out the pork belly before we move on to the second step: a high-temperature blast to bring out that golden crackle of the skin. It's delicious on its own but with the accompanied Eight Treasure Dipping Sauce (a spicy and sweet profile) and it would have been the signature of the dinner. But no, we have the Eight Treasure Roast Pork Belly.
It's a dish that combines the Chestnut Siu Yuk and the Eight Treasure Glutinous Rice (which we will get to in a bit). Think of this as a roulade where glutinous rice is spread over the siu yuk and rolled up. The rice soaks in the juices of the pork belly and each spoonful has you swing between the crunch of the skin and the chewy softness of the rice. This dish, again, comes with the Eight Treasure Dipping Sauce. You don't need it but the profile of the dish unfolds into another facet of sweetness and spiciness.
Now we come to the star of the dinner (or what we thought was the stand-out of an already excellent dinner): the Eight Treasure Glutinous Rice with Abalone. Wrapped in a lotus leaf, the inside is a medley of chestnuts, wolf berries, gingko nuts, pistachio nuts, red dates, dried mushrooms, lap cheong and abalone. A scent wafted from the when we broke open the leaf and the rice was still warm to the taste. We wondered what kind of voodoo they did with this dish because usually with glutinous rice, if you keep them in the fridge, it hardens and you'll need to steam it to get it to that chewiness again. That's not the case with the Eight Treasure Glutinous Rice. We had leftovers so we chilled them and the next day, it was still chewy. If that's not a CNY miracle, we don't know what is.*
Sunday Catering's Chinese New Year Specials are available for order.
10-word review: A spread that promises good things to come in 2021.
Best paired with: Chinese wine and beer.
*actually a CNY miracle would be a family member being moderately supportive in whatever you do in your life