It is almost Chinese New Year again. This year it falls on February 3rd. It is going to be the year of the Rabbit. As traditional as my family is, I feel that these traditions have been slipping away from me slowly year after year. I used to spend my Chinese New Years in Taipei, and the festivities ran from street stalls selling Chinese New Year specialty food to department stores decorating their ceilings and walls with splashes of red and gold. It was hard not to be a part of the traditions and celebrations. Today, it is still a holiday I treasure because it is one of the few times people look back and remember the rich 5,000 years+ of Chinese history and culture.
I have my own way of a Chinese New Year pre-party and that involves, of course, making a lot of Chinese food.
|Oxtail Steak and Tricolor Eggs|
I started with my spin on steak and eggs. I made an oxtail stew as steak and served it with tricolor eggs made with pickled eggs, duck eggs, and chicken eggs. Duck eggs, like many other food, represent good luck because of its pronunciation which resembles other words that mean good fortune and good luck.
|Whole Wheat Pasta Sheets|
We made whole wheat tagliatelle from scratch. Not Chinese, I know. But having noodles is important because the long strands represent longevity. We stir-fried the noodles with Taiwanese sausage and garlic, adding some oyster sauce and sugar in the mixture. It was fresh and delicious.
|Sweet Sesame Rolls|
Using the fresh pasta dough, I made some sweet sesame paste and rolled it up for a sweet pastry. Sweets bring a sweetness to life and that is one tradition I cannot pass up!
|Traditional Chinese Pastry|
|Sweet Mung Bean Filling|
Mung beans, not eaten as often in the Western culture, have many health benefits. One of which is a cooling factor to your body to balance the yin and the yang. That is why many drink sweet mung bean soup in the summertime. Mung bean can also be made into a sweet paste and used as a filling in pretty much anything. I made a traditional mung bean pastry with layers of flaky pastry wraps and a sweetened mung bean paste in the center. Chinese tend to like enjoying food that is either long (noodles) for longevity or circular (pastries like this one) to represent family unity.
That concludes my chinese cook-off over the weekend for fortune and for everything good in life. Eat a lot and you will bring all the luck to you and your family!