As Chinese New Year draws near, chefs are creatively weaving piggy protagonists into their dishes.
To welcome the Chinese New Year of the Pig, feng shui masters ready their predictions while chefs get busy with another yearly ritual altogether: weaving in the zodiac animal’s mien into their dishes. We imagine some years to be more challenging than others—think fashioning appetising foods with snake or rat motifs—but the pig has been popularised well through characters such as Porky Pig, Percy Pig, Peppa Pig and of course, Babe.
Perhaps that’s why with just two weeks to go to Chinese New Year, we’re seeing more than a few dishes with striking piggish designs. But there is a flip side to this, of course. Like the dog-inspired ones last year, might these be too life-like, too cute, to actually rifle through and eat? You be the judge. But for their makers, the only answer probably is, “Don’t be pig-posterous!”
Jade restaurant, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore’s baked golden pig pineapple cookies ($35.31 for a box of nine pieces) definitely look the part of prosperous pigs, from their plump backs to their weighty expressions. A colleague even observes that some of them have the slitty slant of Asian eyes down pat. Also noteworthy is the restaurant’s Special Piggy Edition Gold Rush Yusheng (from $388 for 10 persons, pictured above). In this intricate rendition, a ‘piglet’ of tousled pink radish and other ingredients, such as lobster, Australian abalone and Norwegian salmon, are served with homemade champagne jelly and edible gold leaf.
Shiny, shimmering, splendid
Priced at $198 and only available at their Top of UOB Plaza outlet, Sichuan Dou Hua’s thinly sliced chewy Fugu sashimi is deftly arranged to form the outline of a chuckling pig. The devil is in the details, with the sashimi torched to golden-brown in places to form the shaded contours of the face. Paired with the Prosperity silver bait and homemade bakkwa with fresh greens yusheng, they are all at the ready to be tossed with generous lashings of balsamic vinegar and olive oil instead of the usual sweet sauce.
Can pigs fly?
Peony Jade has pulled out all the stops in their A Wealth of Good Fortune and Success lo-hei yu sheng ($588.88 for 10-12 guests), featuring fresh hamachi sashimi, lobster, Australian abalone, fish roe, caviar ‘tobiko’ and more. The slabs of hamachi making up the pig form are generous and give the sense of a prosperous yet nimble pig, ready to take flight, even if it’s just to zip across the farmyard.
Let sleeping pigs lie
Available on db Bistro & Oyster Bar by Daniel Boulud’s Chinese New Year special menu from 4-6 Feb, this crispy stuffed suckling pig (from $44 per person for a whole suckling pig for eight to 10 persons) looks prim and peaceful at first. Slicing into it with a sizzling crackle reveals a bounty of wild mushrooms, chilli garlic radish, bok choy and tender meat, served with a spiced pork jus.
Hai Tien Lo at Pan Pacific Singapore’s yu sheng platters come in six options (from $38 per platter). This particular Wealth Fortune Yu Sheng (available for dine-in under the Heavenly Prosperity menu or at $288 per portion for seven to 10 persons), is inspired by executive chef Ben Zeng’s daughter’s name, ‘Le Le’ which loosely translates to ‘happiness’. Carrot strips, white radish strips, preserved cucumber strips and blueberries make up the piggish ensemble, which comes served with ingredients such as lobster, sliced abalone and French scallops.
Crouching Piglet, Hidden Nian Gao
Available on Peach Blossoms at Marina Mandarin’s takeaway menu, this golden pig-shaped nian gao with purple sweet potato nian gao and mochi ($38.80) promises a year of sweet beginnings.
Mad about Sucre, the French patisserie and restaurant in Teo Hong Road, is not exactly a place you’d go looking for Chinese New Year signs and symbols, but even in their French pastries, little squiggly tails and impish snouts are to be found, paying tribute to the year of the pig. Here pictured is their poire entrement, featuring French pear, almond, honey (from $13.80).