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10 lucky dishes for the Year of the Fire Monkey.

Byline: Raoul J. Chee Kee

Hotels and restaurants are gearing up for the Chinese New Year that falls this year on Feb. 8.

To welcome the arrival of the Fire Monkey, some establishments have even come up with banana-flavored treats. For a limited time, Eng Bee Tin stores are selling banana tikoy in a special box with a picture of a grinning monkey.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila takes a more traditional route with 10 lucky dishes prepared by the Chinese chef at Spiral. Chef Michael Tai's 10 Secrets to Happiness is a culinary interpretation of prosperity, longevity, friends, faith and fortune.

Specialty dishes

Slow-cooked Abalone served with Money Bag and Supreme Sauce is a specialty dish that signifies well wishes for abundance in wealth. Abalone or bao yu translates to assurance and surplus.

Stuffed Sea Cucumber with minced pork, Szechuan style, represents the gift of life; Poached dried scallops coated with winter melon symbolize the opening of new horizons; while lobster is regarded as the Dragon of the Sea and represents energy and spirit.

At Spiral, the chef will prepare Baked Lobster with Butter and Fried Garlic, Hong Kong style.

Chef Tai's Deep Fried Crab Claw, Pi Pa style, will be arranged in a sunburst pattern. A favorite in bountiful feasts, the crab symbolizes prosperity and prestige in business and social standing.

And there's more: Wok-fried King Prawn with Golden Pumpkin Egg Yolk Paste (liveliness and joy), Steamed Whole Fish with Red Date, Cantonese style (prosperity), Braised Fish Maw and Broccoli in Oyster Sauce (youthfulness), Stir-fried Japanese Scallop with Sweet Walnut in XO Chili Sauce (wealth and prosperity), and Dried Oyster with Black Moss (good business, good fortune).

The chef will also prepare other dishes available including Yusheng or Raw Fish Salad, Nian Gao (tikoy), Chang Shou Mian (longevity noodles), Jiao Zi (dumplings), Chunjuan (spring rolls) and Braised Pork Knuckles.

In Cantonese, the Yusheng symbolizes abundance. The combination of condiments such as plum sauce and sesame oil with shredded fresh vegetables and strips of raw fish or seafood is tossed as a group. The higher the ingredients are tossed, the luckier the year.

The specialty dishes will be available at for lunch and dinner at Spiral until Feb. 10. Call 8326988 or e-mail

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Feb 4, 2016
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