Sunday, February 12


As a Chinese Muslim, I have always tried to expose my husband and children to suitable Chinese culture. This year, for Chinese New Year, I decided to have a steamboat party especially as I have just bought a new multi cooker. I asked Husband to invite his close friends and usrah members to come over to the house on the 5th day of Chinese New Year. Just a small group of about 18 people as it was the first time for us as hosts. Alhamdulillah, they turned up with their family members.
"How do I eat this?"
"What do you call this?"
I was more than happy to answer their questions. There was plenty of food for the steamboat. We did two variety- original Chinese soup base and Husband's tomyam soup. He said that some Malays might find the original taste too bland. I had to show them the correct way of putting the ingredients into the pot and how to eat the cooked food. As it turned out, my soup was more popular than Husband's, hehehee.
"Dessert.. ginkgo baloba," said Husband when I put bowls of the sweet dessert on the table for the guests.
"The Hokkien Chinese call this 'pek kueh'. the Cantonese call it 'pak koh'" I explained, telling them that the dessert made of gingko, red dates and dried longan is famous during Chinese New Year. And I also showed them the uncooked and unpeeled gingko, as they had never eaten it before.
"When shall we eat that, dear? Everyone's waiting!" Husband sounded very eager to try out the food that I had arranged on a big plate.
"Ok, we can eat now."
"What's this called?" asked a friend.
"It's yee-sang. Made of dried yam, pomeloes, carrots, etc. Don't worry, it's halal.. see, it's written on the label ,'vegetarian yee sang." I explained as I showed them the label of the prepacked yee sang bought at the hypermarket..
Tossing the yee sang... the children enjoyed it, hahaa
"How to eat ?"
"Follow me. Everyone hold the chopsticks like this and toss the food as high as you can.. mix the ingredients together.. Chinese say 'loh hei, loh hei' as they do this," I demonstrated. Everybody started to follow suit.
"Nice.. sedap laaa." they commented, tasting the yee sang for the first time in their lives.
While eating, the Malay guests asked me many questions about the Chinese custom during this special day, the do's and don'ts and what would be considered syirik. I explained as much as I could, based on my knowledge and experiences.

Alhamdulillah, thanks to Allah SWT for allowing us to have the special Chinese New Year lunch with friends and helping everyone to learn and appreciate Chinese culture. This is very different from my first Chinese New Year day as a Muslimah back in February 2007 which I had to spend it alone in my empty hostel because I was barred from returning home by my still-angry parents.

note: Been busy with Ihsan's sickness [tonsillitis - alhamdulillah, recovering], Ikram's activeness, and yours truly's current poor health :(


  1. Salam alaiki kak Aliya!

    I love this post so much ! I plan to expose my kids to some suitable Chinese culture too! I think it is really important to preserve some traditions within family lines. =)

    I love yee sang and those many Chinese dessert varieties that we have (especially tong sui yumms).. including sweet ginger tang yuan dessert during dongzhi festival!

    Thanks so much for this post and I hope you recuperate soon kak Aliya!

    Liana Chong

  2. We love steam boat but have done this since we, just two of us, moved to KT. Makcik used to do that in KL where we have all members of our family to enjoy. We had two staeamboat pots, gas and electric. However I am very sure you can do motre professionally. We have no idea what this yee sam is.

    So, how about paying us a visit for a couple of days, with family of course, and teach Makcik the genuine Chinese way of preparing this. We may have some problems in getting suitable vegetables in this outlandish place. The local shops may not have the yee sam you mentioned.

    NB; Suddenly I can get this comment box available as usual. Hope it stays.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. wowwww sedapnya!!!! me and my colleague suke sangat yee sang, we drove to jusco during lunch hour and bought a pack of yee sang, balik makan kat ur post makes me feels like yee sang again :P

  5. Assalamualaikum... I never tried yee sang before huhu.

  6. @Ikhwan Ng

    Are you from Sabah or Sarawak? Cos most ppl from there have never heard or known what yee sang is.. It's more of a Semenanjung thing among the Chinese.

  7. Waalaikumussalam dear ...
    I still have a kg of ginkgo nut, waiting to be cooked? Anyone want some?
    The same old problem, hypertension :( Thought it's over after Ihsan was born but last week, my reading shot up to 134/109.. so am back on medication. Going for a blood test at the clinic today, insyaAllah ok

  8. Salam Pakcik Hassan,
    Yee sang is actually invented by Malaysians, and not from China, hehee.. that's why some Chinese have never eaten it before. Too much to eat alone, best shared with other people.
    I'd love to visit Trengganu but that would have to wait till the driver [husband] is free and available. InsyaAllah, soon. My last visit was back in 1999,representing the state for teachers' choir competition.

  9. sareez and Ikhwan,
    I bought mine from Tesco, hahahaaa... alhamdulillah these days we can get them easily.
    sareez, I didn't eat yee sang till my early 20s, coz it's not a traditional Chinese dish but invented by Malaysian Chinese.Singaporeans clim it's theirs. I don't care as long as I can eat it once a year :D
    Ikhwan, you should try it next year. I'm sure your parents would be pleased to see it served :)