Happy Chinese New Year! Look, even Hello Kitty is dressed up for the New Year. Since the Chinese follow the Lunar calendar, Chinese New Year falls on a different date every year. This year, it’s especially early, occurring on January 23, 2012. This new year is symbolized by the dragon.
Last year it was the year of the rabbit, and I was able to whip up a lot of bunny shaped foods. A dragon is more complicated so I didn’t even attempt it.
The new year is usually celebrated with a meal with close family and friends. Traditionally, you are supposed to cook up a lot of food before, and then on New Year’s day, you don’t do any cooking at all. We used to make dumplings, but we stopped. It is tasty but time consuming.
This year we actually went out to eat. Then because I felt like we had to make something for the sake of tradition, we stuck with something easy: scallion pancakes.
Scallion pancakes are savory, with a strong taste of onions. The pancakes have layers upon layers of dough rolled into a thin form. They are then pan fried. The end result is a crispy, flaky, savory treat.
The dough is actually very easy to make. Though ours didn’t fry up as pretty as usual, so the picture above is actually the one from last year. I cut ours up before a picture from this latest version.
Along with a feast, there is usually New Year’s cake, which is made of glutinous rice flour, so it basically tastes like mochi. If you buy the cake, it is usually hard. To make it soft and chewy again, it’s sliced into squares, dipped in egg batter and then fried. The heat softens the mochi-like cake, and the egg batter keeps the outside from being a sticky mess. We actually didn’t make any this year as I always end up having to eat it all.
If there are young kids, red envelopes are given by adults to the kids, with money inside. It’s been a really long time since I’ve gotten one so no picture. Oh to be a kid again.
Traditional candy includes a lot of various vegetables and fruit that are dried and crystallized with sugar.
Step by step photos of how to make the scallion pancakes can be found on my old post here.
2 cups All purpose flour
1 cups boiling water
Oil (vegetable and sesame oil)
1 cup green onions (diced)
1. To view photos for step by step see here. Pour flour and water into food processor or stand mixer and knead for a few minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. If too dry, add a little more water. We kneaded our dough for about 10 minutes.
2. Take a small piece of dough (about the size of your fist) and roll it out as thin as possible. The shape doesn’t matter.
3. Drizzle some oil and rub it in with your hands so that the entire surface is lightly covered, but there are no pools of oil in any one spot. We used about a 4:1 ratio of vegetable oil to sesame oil. If you don’t want sesame oil you can use just vegetable oil. I would not recommend using too much sesame oil because it has a very strong flavor. Don’t be stingy on the oil or your pancakes will be too dry. Make sure there is a nice thin layer on each one, and make sure it is spread across the whole dough.
4. Sprinkle some salt evenly across the dough. Then sprinkle on the diced green onions. It’s up to your personal preference how much you like.
5. Roll the dough into a long rope. It’s okay if oil and onions squish out the sides. Coil that rope into a circle.
6. Flatten the circle with your hand and then use rolling pin to roll out the pancake and thin it to your desired thickness. Ours we about 1/4 inch thick.
7. In a pan, heat up a bit of oil over medium/low heat. Put your pancake on heated pan and let it cook until golden brown, and then flip to crisp the other side. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Gaga in the Kitchen