There's so much to love about Chinese wedding banquets - the extravagent sequence of dishes, the abundance of seafood, the overly loud bands and the absurd amount of hard liquor drunk!
I have really fond childhood memories of attending weddings as my parent's plus
one. If it was with Dad, then Mum would be at home with my siblings and
vice versa. Us kids took turns. We dreaded the boredom of adult
conversations but absolutely loved the food. The thin glossy crackling on the common first course of suckling pig was always the focus of jealousy for us.
I especially loved the fact that the waiters always serve guests individual portions of food at the table, so as a kid, I'd get to eat as much as the adults.
And after every wedding, I'd return home feeling slightly deafened by the music. But I'd always be prepared to share a detailed recount of what we'd eaten.
Most modern day Chinese weddings nowadays omit the live band. In fact, out of all the Chinese wedding banquets I've attended where the newly weds have been friends, it was only the most recent wedding I attended, that had one! The band performed in Cambodian rather than Chinese or Vietnamese, but oh, the memories.
Here's one of my favourite shots I took of the newly weds:
Fast-forwarding to the dinner now --
We start with a vibrant jellyfish and prawn salad - strands of crisp and crunchy jellyfish tossed with shredded carrot, daikon and thin slices of prawns. I love the tangyness of the vinegar, soya sauce and sesame oil dressing.
Next are steamed baby abalones served on the shell. The contrast of the pearly shells on the dark dressing is just gorgeous. The abalones are sweet and tender, a true delicacy.
A dish which I've always enjoyed at every traditional Asian wedding banquet is the deep-fried crab claw. It's the notion of eating crab that has been picked by somebody else. No shells, no messy picking, just mouthfuls of flaky crab with a light crust, dipped in a sweet and sour sauce.
As a kid, I used to be so fascinated by how the chefs prepared these perfect noodle baskets. My mother revealed the secret to me many years ago but I still appreciate how scrumptious anything served in a noodle basket looks. In this case, there are braised snowpeas with scallops, prawns, baby corn and cashew nuts. Shards of the broken noodle basket soaked in a bit of the sauce is obviously the part that is worth fighting over for.
Hmm, sharkfin soup. I have no idea if what's served is ethically sourced sharks fin. I sure hope so but I don't ask questions and just drink what is served.
When you see lobster, it's time to get your hands dirty. Meaty pieces of lobster braised with ginger, garlic and green shallots. The e-fu noodles have absorbed all the wonderful juices, they have a nice bite and are so flavourful.
I just love the sight of people dressed up, devouring lobster with all their fingers.
And while many hit the dance floor, our table is laden with even more food. The steamed fish is served whole and the bone is quickly removed by the waiter. There's also crispy quail which is dipped in a salt & pepper mix with some lemon juice, fried rice, a sweet red bean dessert soup and some fresh fruit.
With entire bottles of Hennessy and Johnnie Walker demolished by half our table, the night turned into a very long and entertaining one. I'm glad this photo was taken before all the drunken shenanigans!
Lucky me, I've got another two weddings to attend on this coming Saturday!
Chanthu and Jerome, wishing you both a world of deliciousness, happiness, love and joy! Congratulations again! xxGolden Star Palace
Sunnybrook Hotel & Function Centre
355 Hume Highway, Cabramatta East, NSW