lo-hei !

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lo-hei” – A toss for Happiness, Blessing, Abundance, and, well, all things good! This is the Cantonese term that describes a tradition begun in Singapore of sharing a large salad and raw fish / seafood dish called yusheng“, usually during the Lunar New Year. Everyone joins in with gusto, quite a bit of vim and vigour, to stir and toss the salad into a blended mix. The dish is delicious, a delightfully composed orchestration of lightly piquant, sweet, savoury and ‘umami’, the dish often includes ‘auspicious’ sounding fresh vegetables, pickles, raw fish, highly prized seafood, such as abalone, crab, shrimp/prawn, bound together with a sweet-sour sauce.

This Autistic Bunny is a foodie, and how absolutely, fabulously fortuitous to have a brother-in-law who was a top professional chef and now a food scientist. Never a dull meal when we’re with this chap. Always happy tummies too! Well, folks, the Lunar New Year is almost upon us, so it’s time for food-tasting, reviewing and just enjoying the goodies galore. Some of the dishes are new concoctions and others are variations on a traditional theme. This year, my brother-in-law has developed a new and superbly tasty variation of the traditional “yusheng” salad dish, and we’ve had the good fortune of several previews, in the quest to make it just perfect.

My Foodie Bunny verdict? It’s really delicious! But that’s too sweeping and general, so I’ll provide a quick hyper-sensory AutisticBunnyMe detailed summary of the dish here.

Why do I like “yusheng“? It is a beautiful dish to behold. I also enjoy the way distinct, separate entities blend together, visually and texturally still retaining each their own properties visually as well in texture and taste. Carrot is carrot, turnip is turnip etc, no mushiness (which I detest, hence my dislike for stews and curries), just clean, clear, varying degrees and harmonic reverberations of ‘crunchiness’ and ‘chewability’.

Then there is the raw fish – I have always loved raw fish, not sure why, and raw fresh oysters too. Cooked fish takes on a flaky, dry, ‘crusty’ texture that my tongue rejects upon contact, which is why I need a lot of sauce when eating cooked fish. And I avoid cooked oysters as far as I can. They taste like fishy powder.

The Premium set which I’ve been taste-testing has a plethora of yummies from the sea: Amaebi (sweet shrimp), Kajiki (swordfish), Salmon, Hotate (scallops) and Kanifumi (crab sticks) and juicy Abalone. Abalone is yet another favourite of mine. My grandfather used to give us cases of the stuff every year during the Lunar New Year season, and one of my favourite memories is opening a tin of mini abalone and stabbing at the little chewy things with a fork. All to myself, no need to share, straight out of the tin! (Of course there may be others who dislike the eccentric textures and tastes of seafood presented this way, if so, there are other variations of the dish available.)

Then there is the ‘Pork-sperity’ version that comes with bakwa – thinly sliced, tender barbecued pork jerky, another traditional favourite among the Chinese. (Our Singapore version has my top vote, I think we do it best here.) Lightly sweet and savoury, there is a mild smokiness that lingers in the mouth. I’ve never had bakwa in this dish before, it’s a new sensation to me, and since I love bakwa, this addition is a welcome change.

What struck me most was the addition of local fruit in the ‘Fruit-licious’ version: Guava, Pomelo, Mango, Pear and Rose Apple (we call it “jambu“). A quirky, unique combination, refreshing in texture, taste and fragrance. This is such a surprisingly excellent synthesis, especially as I absolutely love tropical fruit!

I’m not fond of the mandatory traditional crushed peanuts or the little puffy crackers poured on top of the dish, but they do lend added texture to the richly endowed experience. I tend to pick out the puffy crackers as I feel they interfere with my exploration of taste, texture and smell, but almost everyone loves the stuff, and it’s an auspicious symbol, so it stays.

OK, I’m almost done with my glowing review. One last thing, and a very important one: that secret recipe yuzu sauce, whatever is in there, it’s amazing! I’ve never tasted any other yusheng sauce like this one. Kudos to my talented brother-in-law. The sweet-sour traditional sauce pales in comparison to this one. This is the sauce that binds everything together into a grandly orchestrated uplifting ‘zing’ – a perfect reward for all the gung-ho efforts put into tossing the yusheng in the lohei tradition.

My personal recommendation, especially for a largish crowd? Get the Premium set + Fruit-licious set – blend and toss! Add your own bakwa if you like too. The best!

Here’re some photos from the many taste-testing sessions we’ve had. I usually dislike festive seasons, but this Lunar New Year, I really am looking forward to doing the lohei and tucking in!

(Work in Progress… arranging the components is an art in itself!)

 

(All ready for the secret sauce, and then lohei!)

 

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Mine! All mine! Now to retreat into my corner to tuck in.

Happy Lunar New Year, Every Bunny!

reflets dans l’eau

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stille nacht

2018 was unexpectedly obstreperous and brutal. A vast, swirling, seething, somewhat inebriated ominous monstrosity ingurgitating every attempt at hopeful rejuvenation, each ounce of vim and vigour slowly inhaled into its impenetrable mucilaginous dark cavern, leaving limp, brittle skeletal remains crackling in the sizzling heat of unrepentant tyranny, unrecognisable construal of once fierce passionate and spirited determination.

Advocacy has extracted its ponderous price. What irony, for one who never set out to be an advocate anyway. It is too arduous and violent for gossamer wings, too loud for tender ears, too rough for quivering fingertips.

Yet, where there is life, there remains slithers of flickering hope. And my life is not yet over, albeit saved time and time again by a Canine Angel whose existence beside me surpasses all reason, all logical apologia.

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whispering hope

My minuscule whisper to the grand cosmic gyration for 2019? Time to reflect, rest, and retreat gracefully into Clement Space: art-making, embracing pulchritude, tasting each nuanced fluttering of time moving rhythmically through wordless interstices.

a clement Christmas

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Clemency is hard to find. Clement Space is an ongoing quest. As is the Endeavour of Empathy.

Looking back, contemplating crashing fortissimo and lifting appoggiatura, soul crushing depletion and spiritual strengthening… Artaud and Wagner, humour, beauty, gritty determined ‘dogliness’… Lucy has once again carried me through yet another year with her gentle, wordless steadfastness of spirit and embodied grace.

It’s Christmas Eve. I recall with gratitude and fondness, the most precious Christmas gift from our sojourn in Paddington, Sydney. It was 2013, a quiet Christmas Eve, early morning when the summer air was still cool and crisp. Those roses, tossed out by someone, still fresh and beaming with a brilliance I’ve never yet seen nor witnessed again in a bunch of flowers. Put into my hands with a gruff greeting, from our friend Michael, an eccentric old man who lives in a rickety van. We met when Lucy and I were out walking, Lucy chose to say hello to this elegantly dressed solitary figure, smoking and reading the newspapers on the park bench just by our grass patch we call “dog patch”. I miss Paddo. I miss our neighbourhood, our friends, and I think of them often. Especially Michael. I hope he is well. One can never be sure. Michael comes and goes. Nobody knows where and when. I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again. He was choking back tears when we last said goodbye, too proud for a hug, we did not even make eye contact. But I hope he knew how much we would miss him.

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This Christmas Eve, Lucy and I are ‘home’ with mum, my baby sister and brother-in-law, their two little furry children, and our helper Nula. Lucy has over-eaten again, too many treats and a giant lamb bone from her aunt who thinks she is too thin. (Though I keep reiterating that Lucy is a Greyhound, they are naturally lean.) We are waiting for Christmas Eve dinner – yet another private gastronomic feast by my amazing brother-in-law. The over-fed Canine Angel is asleep in bed, next to me. I can hear her rhythmic breathing, and she opens her sleepy eyes occasionally to check on me.

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I reflect on Christmases long past, and I realise how peaceful it is now. Without any more pomp and ceremony, no more need to dodge snide remarks and undercurrents of bitchery or witchery, no competition for whose gift is the most expensive or who has achieved the most success in the year. Those are now distant memories, and juxtaposed with our recent ones, they stand as reminders of how much goodness has come along since I walked away from all that mire.

We had our pre-Christmas dinner with extended family and friends last week. It was a very merry one, noisy and overloading but not at all emotionally or mentally exhausting. A pleasant, happy, kind of overload. And, of course, the food is always delicious – how could it not be, with a top professional chef and two F&B professionals in the party?

This year, I slogged away all week to finish my handmade gifts to mum, baby sis, Mini-B and Tiny-T. A welcome restfulness of spirit and blessedness of mind – taking time away from a surfeit of advocacy work, campaigning and proposals – just to touch, feel, and flow with the patterns and variations so clement to the senses. ‘Making’ is a beautiful activity for me, calming and restoring. I’ve named my jewellery line “LaLaLouBelle” – after Lucy and my childhood nickname for baby sis. Every piece is made up of vintage and antique components, collected through my early years of avid travelling or handed down to me from mum and granny. Each one a narrative of love and filled with meaningful history.

Oh, yes, and Little Mini wee-wee-ed on Lucy’s bed yesterday, so I’ll have to buy Lucy a new bed. Mini is a spunky little (fat) button, with a penchant for Lucy’s bedding.

We’re all set! I’ve put up a miniature tree, with tiny lights and trimmings. Our presents are all ready for the ritual tonight. – we open ours on Christmas Eve.

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A peaceful and clement Christmas Eve wish to all from Lucy and me!