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Season 3 Episode 4 - Napier

This week composer John Psathas, whose parents hail from Greece, takes us on a tour of the place he spent many formative years – Napier. Over recent years, Napier has become home to an increasingly diverse and multi-cultural group of new migrants.     

In this episode,we’ll discover the historic heirlooms that connect a local man to the Troubles in Ireland, meet a midwife from South Africa who’s committed to providing culturally appropriate care for new arrivals, share the celebrations at Chinese New Year and see a young woman transforming the traditional Japanese art of Ikebana into something entirely new.


Curator Bio: John Psathas

John Psathas is a New Zealand composer, son of Greek immigrant parents.

One of his most high profile works has been the ceremonial music for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

John believes his cultural background is a big contributor to his good fortune as a composer. “For Greeks, music is a very powerful cohesive force for binding a community in ‘exile’. The emotions that rise up when music of the homeland begins are incredibly powerful, all-consuming,” he says.

In John’s memories of Napier, it’s always summer: “I remember a sun-soaked, beach-blessed, coming-of-age paradise.”


This week's recipe

This week on Neighbourhood, close friends Sylvia & Jenny prepare the Chinese dish Hoi Si Faat Choy (Dried Chinese Oysters with Black Moss). The black moss is symbolic of prosperity and the dish is a key part of Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner. 


Braised Dried Chinese Oysters and Black Moss on Cooked Lettuce

“One of the most traditional dishes to celebrate Chinese New Year”



  • 40 g imitation Black Moss (Faat Choy)
  • 12 medium to large Chinese Dried Oysters
  • 20 g fresh root Ginger (to go with Oysters)
  • 10 g fresh root Ginger (to go with Stir fry)
  • 4 cloves fresh crushed Garlic
  • 200 mls quality Chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp Chinese Oyster Sauce
  • Pinch Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Peanut Oil
  • 2 tsp Light Soya Sauce
  • Potato starch liquid for thickening (1 part starch mixed with 2 parts cold water)
  • 2 stalks Green Spring Onion (diagonally sliced)
  • 1 whole lettuce (can substitute with fresh bok choy or broccoli)



1. Place the dried moss in a bowl and add enough cold water to hydrate fully.  Rinse and set aside.

2. Soak the dried Oysters for half hour in warm water to soften.  Then place in saucepan with the fresh slices of root ginger and 3 cups of water.  Slow simmer with cover for 45mins.  Drain and rinse with water and set aside.

3. Blanch the Black Moss for few minutes and rinse under cold water and drain.

4. Crush the garlic and 3 slices of fresh root ginger.

5. Wash and separate all the lettuce leaves and blanch in large pot of boiling water with 2 dsp of oil, once all leaves wilted, tip out into colander and drain well. Add 1 tbsp of Oyster sauce in to the lettuce and mix well. Place on a platter and spread evenly.

6. Heat wok until hot, then add the peanut oil. Add the garlic and fresh root ginger. Next add the prepared oysters . Keep stir fry on high heat and add the black moss.  Add the hot chicken stock.

7. Next add in Oyster sauce, light soya and sugar. Add in small amount of potato starch liquid to produce a light sauce.

8. Serve the black moss and oysters over the bed of cooked lettuce. Add chopped spring onions on top and serve with hot steam rice. 

 Recipe supplied by courtesy of Sylvia Gees Asian Cooking Classes, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand