This is the perfect recipe to serve at Chinese New Year as the Mandarin word for fish is ‘Yu’, which also sounds like the ‘Yu’ in the Chinese phrase ‘Nian Nian You Yu’, which means ‘Every year you have abundance’ whether it’s wealth, health, happiness, luck or love. This is a phrase you say to family and friends to wish them well in the New Year. The Chinese are superstitious and believe that you should serve the fish whole including the head as it symbolizes completeness and unity. So if it is Chinese New Year and you are serving this recipe, please ask your fishmonger to keep the head on! The Chinese New Year falls on a different day each year and follows the lunar calendar. There are many customs and one of them is to give Hong-Bao meaning ‘red packets’, red envelopes stuffed with money to give to your elders or young children... as a child I must admit I thought this was the best part! The color red is also very symbolic and is a very lucky color so on this occasion perhaps sea bass would not be the ultimate choice and instead you might choose a red mullet.
© 2006 Ching-He Huang. All rights reserved.