Monday, September 02, 2013

Zhong Yuan Jie 中元節 2013


I'll be the first to admit that the history behind our Chinese traditions have been lost on me. I really should have paid more attention to my parents and grandparents when they explained the reasons for certain Chinese holidays and festivals. For example, the family gathered in August for Zhong Yuan Jie (中元節) or the Ghost Festival, but I'm not sure why. Wikipedia tells me that it's the day when the deceased visit the living.


What I do know is that we pray for good health and fortune for the family, and this usually involves a lot of food. I won't go over everything we ate, since we make mostly the same dishes for each festival. As you can see, we had some roast and BBQ meats, fruits, stir fry dishes, drinks, rice, noodles, and desserts.


I'm not sure what this dish is called in English, but it is basically a soy skin spring roll. It's stuffed with ground meat, pepper, and other vegetables, then wrapped in soy skin and deep fried until golden and crispy. Typically, we dip the sliced rolls in black vinegar. It's got quite kick, and isn't in our usual repertoire for festival food.


Clear soup with fish maw, fish balls, napa cabbage, shrimp, wood ear, and ground pork. A staple dish when celebrating at Grandpa's.


This mango roll cake is a family favourite for some reason. I've always found that it was lacking in flavour, sweetness, and texture. If I could modify this dessert, I would swap out the whipped cream filling for mango puree with chunks of fresh mango, and add more mango flavour to the cake itself. I do enjoy its mild fluffiness, which can be very welcoming after a very greasy lunch. It tastes particularly nice with a small cup of strong oolong tea.


While I didn't get to try all of the fruits, the lychee were exceptionally ripe and sweet. They were the first fruits to be devoured, and it certainly made me wish that I had visited Taiwan in the summer, if only to experience tree-ripened lychee. The next Chinese festival will be Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) in September, which usually tends to warrant a much larger feast. We'll be sure to share those yummy eats in the coming weeks!

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