Wednesday, February 2, 2011

新年快樂 Happy Year of the Rabbit! 恭禧發財

恭禧發財 Gung Hay Fat Choy!

新年快樂 Sun Nian Fai Lok!

Chinese New Year Celebrations will be in full swing by the time you are reading this. We will be celebrating with friends and family. There will be an abundance of food and perhaps a bit of frolicking!

Here is a fun link that will provide the quick and dirty about Chinese New Year.

As with most families, the celebrations revolve around food. Ours is no exception. My mom does a lot of traditional cooking….making sure we feast on a bounty of things that will bring luck and prosperity to our family. One of the traditions my mom has always followed is including our ancestors in the celebration. An offering is made to our dearly departed relatives. I admire my mom for carrying on this tradition. It has taught me the true meaning of respect. I have much gratitude for our family’s ancestors. They have laid the foundation for who we are today.

OK onto the food.

From a very young age, I learned that Jin Doi or Sesame Balls is a very special food, reserved for only the most auspicious celebrations. We always had them at New Years and birthdays.

When it was jin doi making time, things had to be just so at our house. I recall mom saying to me in a hushed voice, “you have to stay out of the kitchen and be good; I am making the jin doi and I don’t want them to fail!" Of course, being just a wee thing, it didn't make much sense to me...but I went along with her wishes...almost believing that those darn jin doi had the ability to hear.

I must explain that mom wasn’t being freakish or abusive. She was simply ensuring that all conditions were perfect so that the jin doi wouldn’t fail. If they did, either by not inflating into the perfect sphere shape, or god forbid they should explode…our family's fate would be sealed and the upcoming year would be cursed and riddled with disaster. Who knew the jin doi had such powers!

I was very obedient. I stayed out of the kitchen and did not make a sound. No questions asked. Isn’t my blogging name “Joy Luck Club” a perfect descriptor?….are you getting a good image on how I grew up? I guess this only makes sense if you have read Amy Tan’s, Joy Luck Club. I'm sure there are many "joy luck clubbers" out there!

Funny thing about jin doi though...normally, I credit myself with being pretty adventurous and confident when it comes to cooking (I am known to recreate just about anything I’ve tasted), but....

.....jin doi, scares the crap out of me!

Maybe it's more accurate to say, my mom scares the crap out of me. I can't handle the responsibility or the pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I love the flavor of the sesame coated crispy crunchy exterior, the inner chewy layer and the soft sweet red bean paste. It’s a wonderful textural and taste sensation. I really want to try my hand at these.........

How could I live with myself if I attempted these and they were an epic fail… way. As far as I know, to date there has not been any untoward jin doi disasters. Talk about pressure....who in their right mind would even attempt this? Mom will just have to continue to make these until I am brave enough.

Hmmm….as I am writing, maybe it’s not me, maybe it’s mom. You know she has happily shared all her recipes and tips of everything she cooks.

The mystical jin doi remains a sacred recipe. I’ve only asked her once and she was not forthcoming at all with the process. Perhaps one day, when the moon is aligned with the holy spirits and our ancestors deem that I am worthy, the secrets of the jin doi will finally be passed on to me. I'll probably be a neurotic mess, but when the time comes, I'll be ready for the challenge!

When we were in China this past fall, we were treated to the biggest jin doi I had ever seen. If the illustrious jin doi can actually hear.........this one probably had super sonic hearing!

Really, this jon doi was the size of a league sanctioned basketball….it was enormous! It was rather entertaining watching a limp piece of dough expand before our eyes in a wok full of  hot oil.

We were in a restaurant in my family’s village of Zhongshan. I have included a short clip of the jin doi being fried. Check out how masterful the chef is with his chopsticks and wok flipper. He is applying pressure the whole time......there really is a knack to getting these just right! If you look closely, it appears he's talking to it too :-)

These jin doi were big. These jin doi were crispy......they seemed to be missing the sesame seeds?
Taste-wise......they were alright....just alright, you know, ma ma dei.

Mom’s Jin Doi still reigns supreme!


  1. Gung Hay Fat Choi, JoyLuckClub!

    Is the last picture the Zeen Duy you made? At a glance it looked like sesame seed coated eggs. :-)


  2. Maybe we should try to make a giant jin doi!Gung Hay Fat Choi JoyLuckClub and BR! Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy Year!Love SIL,GLEE and Moy Moy

  3. you're very funny try it first and let me know how it works out!

    hey thanks for dropping by....come visit again

  4. I was witness to the making of the giant JD in China - impressive to watch the production, but the taste is no way near that of your mom's shown in the photo above.

    PS I have complete confidence that you could master these tasty items...the ancestors will be proud!

    Gung Hay Fat Choy

  5. haha....OK, you can come to the inaugural event. might have to have a jug o' wine to calm the nerves though :-)