What is being served at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner to welcome the Year of the Ox?
Last week we did a menu tasting rehearsal dinner. This is essential to the planning of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, because we want to make sure the food selection is right. And it is a perfect way to introduce the performers to each other, and we can work out possible ideas.
Deep-fried haggis dumplings + Spring rolls – from our 2005 menu – photo Todd Wong
Each year we re-adjust the menu for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner. We try to find new ways to eat haggis, and new dishes to introduce to people not familar with Chinese food.
For 2009, I think we have come up with some real winners. After having deep-fried haggis won ton for the past few years, I have asked for won ton dumplings that were made in 2005. My friend Judy Maxwell and I had dim sum today at Floata, and tried these fancy shrimp dumplings stuffed with green vegetables. Delicious! I think people will be very happy!
The other new dish will be Pan-fried sliced squid and sliced chicken in a Tarot Basket. It was a big hit at our rehearsal dinner. The squid will be our seafood representative, as we will not be having ginger crab this year. I heard more comments that it was messy and hard to eat, instead of that they LOVED eating the crab.
Below are the dishes currently planned for the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner – subject to change!
10-course traditional Chinese Dinner featuring:
1) Cold platter (Fusion of Chinese and Scottish Appetizers – Won Ton; Haggis Siu Mai; and Jelly fish – Vegetarian spring rolls or BBQ pork).
For the past two years, we had a buffet set up with haggis dim sum. This was to encourage people to get up and move around the restaurant instead of just sitting down. The inspiration was to have a cocktail hour with appetizers – just like at a Western style dinner reception. But the result was also long lines. 2009 also marks the return of jelly fish to the menu… a strange Chinese delicacy… the perfect compliment to haggis. Photographers can try stuffing their haggis with jelly fish, for a memorable portrait.
This year, the appetizer platter will be served promptly at 6pm. So we encourage every body to arrive between 5 and 5:45pm, so they can order their drinks from the bar, and browse the silent auction items.
2) Dried scallop, chicken and squash soup or vegetarian Hot & Sour soup or maybe Winter Melon soup.
We have served Hot & Sour soup every year at the Floata, so we thought we would try something different. We tried a fish maw corn soup at the rehearsal dinner – but it lacked pizazz. Shark Fin soup has been one of my favorite soups since I was a child. But due to its expensive cost and the environmental impact of Shark fin fishing – it is not an option. At the very first legendary private Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner for 16 friends, I cooked up a Winter Melon soup with lemon grass. It was wonderful! Hmmm…. that might be another option. I like the way the soup can be served in the melon!!! Very appropriate for Chinese New Year.
3) Haggis ( piped in with Scottish bagpipes)
We are moving up the Haggis offering this year. In past years, it was menu item #6 or #7. The piping in of the haggis is always an important ceremony at any Burns Dinner. But too much bagpiping can be turn a lot of heads in a Chinese restaurant. It is also very important to read the Burns poem “Address to a Haggis” prior to the serving of haggis. So please…. do NOT cut into your haggis, until after we have finished reading the poem. Oh – by the way… We don't usually do a traditional reading of the poem. In years past, we selected members of the audience to each read a verse in their best gaelic english.
4) Lettuce wrap with diced vegetables
How many ways can you serve haggis? Take a spoonful of haggis, spread some Chinese plum sauce on it, add some crunchy noodles and diced vegetables with water chestnuts, and wrap it up in a delicate piece of lettuce. Magnificient! Imagine if Marco Polo should have brought back lettuce wrap to Italy instead of noodles? Or if you are vegetarian – leave out the haggis.
5) Pan-fried sliced squid and prawns in a Tarot “Bird's Nest” Basket
We tried roasted fish with a spicy sweet and sour sauce at the rehearsal dinner – but it was voted down. A long time ago, we used to have a scallop and mixed vegetables dish served in a potato nest… back in the early days when our guest total was 60 or 100. This dish was a big hit at the rehearsal dinner. After seeing the Bird's Nest stadium during the Beijing Summer Olympics – I think people will be inspired to quickly empty the squid and vegetables and turn the taro basket upside down, to see if it really does look like the Beijing Bird's Nest stadium. Fish is a Chinese New Year's Dinner staple, because the prounciation of the word “Fish” in Chinese sounds similar to the words for “Good luck.” But that probably depends on how good your pronounciation is, and if you speak Chinglish or not.
6) Beef tenderloin with black pepper
It's the Year of the Ox… and we thought of having Ox-Tail soup…. and then said “Nah…” We wanted a very tasty and special Beef dish to welcome in the Year of the Ox, and we found it. Last year we had Mongolian Beef, recognizing that the Mongols traveled as far West as Hungary… or was that the Huns? I have trouble telling the difference sometimes. But you won't have any trouble deciding that this beef dish will be tender and peppery!
7) Buddha feast
This is an important traditional New Year dish – with long rice vermicelli noodles and lots of
vegetables and lotus root. All the good things that every vegetarian
loves. Long noodles are important metaphor in Chinese cooking… The longer the noodles, the longer the life you hope or expect to have.
The Chinese calendar is based on the 12 animals that came when
Buddha called. Feb 7th starts a new 12 year cycle that begins with the
Year of the Rat – the first animal to see Buddha. I was born in the
Year of the Rat.
8) Crispy skinned chicken with shrimp chips
Healthier than KFC. And the shrimp chips were always my favorites as a child.
9) Young Chow Fried Rice or E-Fu noodles
This is the dish you eat to fill yourself up, if you are still hungry. We had E-Fu long life noodles last year, but a lot of the Scottish people thought that these traditional delicate noodles were too plain. There wasn't a strong sauce on them, and they weren't like chow mein noodles… because they were E-Fu noodles! Maybe it's an aquired taste. For 2009, we are going to go back to Young Chow Fried Rice. It's still a very special and tasty dish, that everybody likes!
10) Mango pudding
This has been our most popular dessert of the years. Chinese pastries are okay… but mango pudding is better. It's always a tradition to have something sweet after the meal. We thought about having Scottish blood pudding… but there is a reason why we have the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner in a Chinese restaurant instead of a Scottish restaurant. I like Chinese food better, and that includes the puddings! Julie wants tapioca pudding, but I think the mango pudding is better.