Friday, January 31, 2014

Yu Sheng - The Big Prosperity Salad Toss

I eschew store-bought Yu Sheng packages as the gaudy colours of the artificial colourings put me off. Some of the pickles were dyed scarlet, a suspiciously deep green and bright yellow.  This dish is traditionally served on Man's Day (creation of Man), which the seventh day of the New Lunar Year. However, this dish is so popular, that it is served throughout the fifteen days of celebration. 

This year CNY falls on 31 January 2014 which is also the year of the horse.

This is one of several sessions of Yu Sheng toss done in the house. Fruits and vegetables used comprise carrots, radish, jicama (Mexican turnips sengkuang), young papaya, pomelo and dragon fruits. Pickles are ginger, radish and leek. Sliced chillies and kaffir lime leaves provide the added oomph while toasted sesame seeds, peanuts and Indian murukku gave added flavour and crunch. The piece de resistance 'Yu Sheng' which gives the eponymous name to the dish are the sliced salmon. This is usually placed in the centre of the dish.

Dragon fruits and radish (daikon) were some of the components.

The home made plum and sesame sauce was drizzled all over. This sweet and tart sauce added much zest.

This is the big platter of yu sheng or yee sang in Cantonese is ready to be tossed by family members. As I was the photographer, my domestic helper took my place.

While mixing, stirring and tossing it up with chopsticks, auspicious wishes were spewed out fast and furious by everyone.

With minor variations...

This a more colourful version of the dish with lettuce and purple cabbage for for added colours. Crispy Chinese crotons (yutiao) are sprinkled over for added crunch, texture and flavour.
Tangy plum sauce was drizzled liberally over.

Vigorous stirring and tossing.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Colourful Sun-nourished Bougainvilleas

Bougainvilleas are sun worshippers and are some of the most colourful plants around. The array of colours is diverse while many cultivars come with variegated leaves which enhance its appeal.

The colourful 'flowers' are actually bracts while the tiny flowers in the centre are generally pale cream to yellow

Bougainvillea 'Golden Glow' 

Ocher-yellow bracts
Orange bracts

This Bougainvillea' Mrs Eva' exhibits a non-foliage day.

Soft pink bracts with variegated leaves.

Bougainvillea 'Barbara Karst'

Yellow Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) on a branch of Bougainvillea 'Raspberry ice'

Pure white bracts.

White bracts with variegated leaves. The lavender bracts are from the original stock plant.


A golden dragonfly  turned up on the trimmed-off ends of a bougainvillea stem. It stayed on this stem the whole day. It flew off when it rained, only to return to the same stem as soon as the showers ended.

As I went snapping away, it turned around in disdain to give me a traditional 'Kiwi insult' by showing me his full posterior. It's an utterly rude shot but I simply can't let this pass.

An issue featuring Bougainvillea, called Bunga Kertas in Malay (paper flower) from the postal department.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Leucophyllum frutescens - Ash Plant

Leucophyllum frutescens (Ash Plant, Purple sage, Texas silver leaf),  is a flowering perennial shrub with arching  branches of lovely silver leaves. Both the flowers and leaves  are wooly or velvety in texture.

The silver leaves are the perfect foil for the dainty rose-magenta flowers.

Solitary flowers are studded over the whole shrub like ornaments.

Branches are long and bear flowers over the whole length.

Flower buds are waiting to pop over the next few days.

Leaves appear velvety and luxurious.

Peablue butterflies can frequently be seen flitting in and out of the shrub.

A leafhopper lurked between two leaves for shelter, security and substennance.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I Spotted A 'Spotted Dove'

Spotted doves (Spilopelia chinensis) are known as Tekukur in Malay. They are easy to recognise from the 'white spots on black' patch found on their nape. Their colours are shades of pink-browns with dashes of black on the wings and tails. The lower belly and underside of the tail is light cream in colour. Its presence in the garden is often accompanied by a pleasant crooning.

I spotted this one sitting sedately on ... 
a branch of the casuarina tree.

Soon the serene look was broken as it started to preen. It pecked the upper thorax region ...
before it turned to do its back.

Next, it did the left 'armpit' under the wing.

In between, there's time for a pause and some reflection. 

Then its time to move away to another spot for some diversion.
After settling on its new niche on this section of the branch, it then cast a bird's eye view on the activities far below this tall tree.

It now focused on the right 'armpit' that was missed out in the earlier preening session.

To indicate the end of preening, a flapping of the wings was executed with flourish.

It then did an about-turn and begin to ...

stride up the branch, back to its original niche.

This is the tall casuarina tree with its multitude branches that are ideal for the birds to perch on - for rest, respite from the heat and safe from predators.

Bougainvillea 'golden glow'

My 'pluck and plonk' floral arrangement - Bougainvillea 'golden glow' with bougies of other hues.


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