Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival in China, is a significant holiday among the Chinese. Not only does it signal the start of a new year on the Lunar calendar, it’s also a time of reunion for families. The family reunion dinner, often a lavish affair, is an important highlight that is traditionally planned on the eve of the new year and involves the gathering of the whole family.
These days, people celebrate the festivities not only with family but also with friends, via feasts that are conducted across the 15-day period (and even before). What has not changed is the importance of the dishes and ingredients used. The Chinese believe that the dishes served during reunion dinner will bring the family great prosperity in the new year. Hence, the delicacies presented are usually highly symbolic and luxurious, signifying everything from good fortune and overflowing wealth to abundant happiness for the new year.
To celebrate the festivities, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has collaborated with chef Zhu Jun, a one-Michelin-star chef from its International Culinary Panel, to come up with two exclusive menus. Part of the SIA@Home initiative, the Business Class Lunar New Year Shi Quan Wei Mei Menu by Zhu Jun and the First Class Lunar New Year Shi Quan Shi Mei Menu by Zhu Jun are both packed with important symbols and flavours that will bring the diner blessings and well wishes for the new year. Bonus: you’ll also receive an assortment of festive cookies that vary from traditional favourites such as pineapple tarts to modern creations such as bak kwa rice crackers. A bottle of Krug champagne is also included in certain packages.
If you are craving for more, add on the new Signatures for 1 package – a timeless offering that is available with any SIA@Home package. It includes some of our passengers’ classic favourites – a dozen chicken satay, caviar, garlic bread and a bottle of wine or champagne.
Read on to see what you can expect from the festive menus.
The Oscietra caviar is one of the most prized and expensive (second only to the Beluga caviar) varieties of caviar. Buttery and nutty, it’s been said that the lighter in shade it is, the tastier and richer it gets. SIA has been serving this premium ingredient in their First Class menus, upgrading to Oscietra caviar last year, with a side of blinis, crème fraiche, hard-boiled egg whites and chives. This Lunar New Year, chef Zhu elevates the popular yu sheng (raw fish salad) with the addition of caviar. Available only in the First Class Lunar New Year Shi Quan Shi Mei Menu, it is the pièce de résistance for this ubiquitous Lunar New Year dish. Symbolising prosperity, health and wealth, the yu sheng also comes with smoked salmon, shredded and pickled vegetables, crackers, ground peanuts, sesame seeds and plum sauce.
The abalone is a must-have delicacy during Lunar New Year feasts as it is a symbol of good fortune and prosperity – its Mandarin pronunciation sounds like ‘guaranteed abundance’, or ‘to carry surplus’. There are plenty of ways abalone can be served during this season, such as braised abalone with vegetables or in double-boiled chicken soup. Chef Zhu’s version (available in both Business Class and First Class festive menus) gives it a twist by pairing baby abalone with Szechuan pepper sauce for added zing.
Chicken is usually the poultry found on the tables of many a reunion dinner, as a whole chicken represents harmony and unity. Chef Zhu, known for putting a modern spin on classics, carries the symbolism over to the duck. In both menus, the chef presents a lush dish of braised duck with black moss that is stuffed with glutinous rice, prawn and Yunnan ham. Black moss, also known as Fat Choy, is another auspicious ingredient that appears in many Lunar New Year dishes as it symbolises wealth.
Also known as stem lettuce, this vegetable is a varietal of the lettuce and is especially popular in China and Taiwan, but not commonly seen in Singapore. Although its appearance looks rather unconventional, it’s well liked for its crunchy and succulent stem and its mild, slightly smoky flavour. Available only in the Business Class festive menu, it’s presented as an aromatic stir-fry.
5. Sea Bass
It’s customary to have fish during Lunar New Year, as the commonly uttered blessing “nian nian you yu” (which sounds like “to have an abundance of fish every year”) is a wish for a year of favour and affluence. How you prepare the fish doesn’t matter, but traditionally the fish is served whole and steamed. Chef Zhu’s fish dish on both menus is a fried sea bass, also known as barramundi. This fish has a mild and smooth taste that allows it to be cooked in various styles across different cuisines. It’s presented here in a tangy orange lime sauce that is light on the palate and brings out the clean flavours of the fish.
6. Eight “treasures”
To round off the auspicious meal, chef Zhu has created an Eight Treasures Purple Rice Porridge – a creamy and sweet concoction that comes chockfull of propitious ingredients such as lotus seeds, red dates, peanuts, kidney beans and dried longan. Lotus seeds are called lianzi in Mandarin, which has the same pronunciation for “many sons”, thus symbolising fertility and a full wallet. Meanwhile, red dates, or hongzao in Mandarin, literally translates to “prosperity comes early”.
For the full details on the exclusive SIA@Home Lunar New Year menus and to book for the upcoming festivity, visit KrisShop.com.
(Tableware used in photo shoot courtesy of Lim’s Holland Village)