Monday, 23 January 2012

Konnyaku Fish


Happy Lunar New Year!

It's the first day of Chinese New Year today, and like all Chinese festive days, it's a day marked with great emphasis on family, well-wishes, traditions and practices.  Naturally, a great festive day cannot go without food - and CNY foods are always given wonderful names of blessings.

In Chinese, one of the food items that cannot be left out of the banquet table is the fish, for 'fish' in Chinese sounds like 'Abundance' (Yu).  The Southern Chinese eat a dish called Yu Sheng, which is raw fish salad, because it sounds like "abundance increase".  A New Year greeting, "年年有余" (nian nian you yu) means "Every year, there's abundance", but at the same time, it sounds like "Every year, there's fish".

Today's dessert is wonderfully simple to make - 15 mins tops, plus an hour to set - and is a perfect end to any CNY feast. ;)  I first had it when my brother's girlfriend served it at our family Reunion Dinner.  Since then, I've made 3 batches of this for CNY dinners. ;)  You can also make this to serve your guests when they come a-visiting. :)

1 sachet/packet, plain Konnyaku Powder - gather the ingredients following the instructions on the packet for making the required amount of jelly for the mould you have
2 to 3 tsp* Sweet Osmanthus Flower aka 桂花 (Gui Hua) - easily obtained from any Chinese Medicine shop
1 to 2 tbsp* Wolfberry aka Goji berry aka 枸杞 - also easily obtained from any Chinese Medicine shop
Fish Jelly Mould

*depends on the amount of water in the Konnyaku Powder indicated on the packet.  Generally, about 1 teaspoon of Osmanthus flower for about 180-250ml of water.  If you'd like less speckled fishes, add less.  As for wolfberries, I estimate based on number of fish moulds I have... see Method step 4. ;)


  1. Steep the Osmanthus Flower and Wolfberry into the required amount of hot water for about a minute and then strain the flowers and berries out.  The water is then used to boil in a saucepan for making the Konnyaku jelly.  Do not throw the flowers and berries out though - you'll need them for the jelly later.
  2. Prepare the jelly according to the packet's instruction.  In place of water, you'll have to use the water you strained from the flowers and berries.  Follow the amount of sugar instructed by your jelly packet.
  3. When jelly is almost ready, put the flowers and berries back into the saucepan and give it a stir to mix it all in.
  4. Ladle out the berries and flowers into the fish mould.  I'll count out the berries in each mould to be  2 (if the mould is very small) because 2 is an even number and the Chinese believe that 'good things come in pairs'... also because it sounds like 'easy'; 6 because 6 sounds like 'prosperity'; 8 because 8 sounds like 'to prosper'; or 10 because 10 connotes completion to the Chinese.  I'll be careful to have even numbers because odd numbers are considered unlucky, and 4, which sounds like 'death' is also avoided.
  5. Allow the jelly to cool for a few minutes before putting it in the fridge to set.  Konnyaku jelly sets very fast, and would be ready in about an hour's time.
  6. Remove from mould and serve the fish in pairs... again, the whole idea of even numbers.
I hope you'll try this dessert soon, because not only is it easy to make, sounds good, it's also good for the body too.  The Osmanthus has a light peachy fragrance, and is suppose to be good for the skin, aids digestion, and has a calming effect on the consumer.  Wolfberries are good for the eyes and boost the immune system... and Konnyaku is a high in fiber, aids digestion and apparently has the ability to clean toxins in the intestines.  Therefore, it's the perfect food for the CNY festivities!

Here's wishing everyone a blessed, healthful New Year! :)

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