A Seafood-y New Year

"You know, this might be the last year we'd all be together, trying to do something crazy to feel festive"

It's true, that, and while it means that we'd all be home with our families, the thought still leaves me just a little bit sad. We've had our share of kitchen triumphs and misadventures (the crab shower of 2010!) and in a way, it's been the 'I'm going to try to do the way my mum does it' moments that have been the greatest source of entertainment.

This year, after taking the easy way out with dinner at a restaurant on the eve of the Rabbit Year, we went down the relatively easy path of making everyone cook their own meal for the customary Festive Cookout at No. 42. With the difficult bits out of the way pretty quickly (it does help that the boys have oyster shucking down to a science by now), all that was left to do was to gather around our pots of bubbling soup to have round after round of sweet, fresh seafood.

"Nian Nian You Yu" (May there be abundance year after year)

You probably would have guessed from the pictures that we took another trip to Billingsgate Market to stock up for the occasion so it would come as no surprise that we did in fact have lots and lots of fish to go around.

We attempted two types of soup; one a simple broth of chicken, prawn shells and Chinese cabbage, left to simmer over the stove for the most part of the evening and the other a Korean-hotpot inspired kimchi, chicken and prawn broth. The best thing about a steamboat meal is how the flavours of the ingredients slowly get infused into the broth as the meal goes on, leaving you with just the most amazing soup at the end of it all.

Little tidbits from the Chinese New Year care package - those addictive sugar-coated twisty biscuits and peanut brittle.

In that slightly cheesy, cliched sort of way, the Forever Friends Madeira sponge summed it all up for us. I hope that wherever you may have been over the festive season, you had wonderful people to share the festivities with.

I know I did.

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