I do get sentimental as the years go by, in the past, New Year had been a time I would look forward to the challenges ahead.  I still do because there’s still so much to look forward to, but now I try to take more time to look back and reflect on how lucky I’ve been – to take a selfish moment and savour the wonderful people in my life.

This new year mark’s so many milestones for my family, my father turns 90, and I celebrate my 21st anniversary. New Year is good like that, it makes you stop and look at your priorities and appreciate the ones you love… especially over a family dinner.

For me there are a few Vietnamese dishes that is a must for a New Year family dinner…

Canh chua, Vietnamese sour soup is so uniquely Vietnamese, both sweet and sour, that unique flavour was one of my first food memories.

And you can’t have canh chua without goi, Vietnamese salad, that other quintessential homeland dish.  You can have so many types of goi, this one is prawns and bamboo shoots.  The sour and fish sauce mixed with the fresh greens, together with some white rice, send me off on a high.

The other childhood memory was my mother coming home late from work and having dinner on her own.  I would come and lay on her lap.  The aroma of the ca kho, fish slow cooked in fish sauce and pepper until it was brown and tender was so mesmerising to me as a child.  She would lean down, kiss me then feed me a mouthful of rice mixed with fish.

Just like the loved ones that I take for granted, I often forget the other essential ingredient of any meal, com – white rice.  My father, god bless him, still refuses to eat any meal that doesn’t have rice.  In Vietnamese to eat dinner or lunch we say “an com”, literally eat rice, that’s how important rice is to Vietnamese families.  Back in 1976, my mother notoriously said she wouldn’t come to Australia unless she could buy fish sauce and rice there.

These days, we don’t compromise of what we eat because our family is worth it and more.  We buy the best ingredients, we don’t skimp on family.  Year and years ago we switched from Sunlong rice (every Vietnamese family used to eat Sunlong) to Royal Umbrella Jasmine Rice.  It’s a premium product that is loved worldwide and awarded world’s best rice 2009.

My family is sooo worth it!

Win in the New Lunar Year

Start your year with good luck by winning a 5kg bag of Royal Umbrella Jasmine Rice, new crop 2011.  Email thang[at]noodlies[dot]com and tell me about a favourite family dish or meal.  Why is it special?

I also encourage you to also share those memories with us by putting it in the comments section of this post.

The three most creative entry wins.  Winning entries will be published on noodlies on 8 January 2011.

Prizes will be sent to addresses in Australia.

 A few rules:
– 50 words or less
– Entries close 11pm, 7th January 2011
– Residents of Australia only
– make sure it’s full of love

Email thang[at]noodlies[dot]com 
and tell me about a favourite family dish or meal.  Why is it special?  

Share your experiences with us in the comments section…

This post was supported by our friends at Royal Umbrella rice.