For those who are celebrating, Happy Lunar New Year! Wishing happiness and prosperity to you all.
This is the year of the snake. Not really a very cute animal, so hard to make cute animal shaped foods. This month has really flown by. I had plans to make all sorts of Lunar New Year themed goodies and post them the week prior to New Year’s, but I just ran out of time. I’m sad I didn’t get to share the recipes, but hopefully I’ll get around to them eventually.
I was lucky enough to once celebrate the Lunar New Year in Taiwan and I was surprised about how big of a celebration it was. It wasn’t just a one day holiday, but instead the New Year celebration lasted for 14 days.
Before the holiday, there was a lot of prep work. Tons of cleaning of the house for a fresh start and tons of cooking because you’re not supposed to cook on New Year’s Day.
In the US, of course Lunar New Year is not nearly as big of a deal. It’s usually a day spent with family and friends where you enjoy a meal together and eat some traditional foods and candies. The red envelopes (thank goodness!) is a tradition still honored, where kids get various amounts of money from their adult relatives.
Chinese culture has great belief in symbolism and there are various dishes eaten to bring good luck for the New Year. One of the traditions include making homemade dumplings. The dumplings resemble the shape of ancient Chinese money. In the past, I’ve made homemade dumplings for New Year’s day, but it’s more fun when there’s a large group. With so little of my family left in San Diego, DH and I will instead be celebrating with hot pot, which is another tradition we usually do for New Year’s.
Even though it’s just the two of us, I had to stock up New Year’s candies and New Year Cake. You know how I feel about my sweets!
The candies are usually super sweet, basically candied versions of various asian vegetables and fruits like winter melon, lotus root, sweet potatoes, persimmons, water chestnuts, coconut flakes and ginger. My favorite is the winter melon which actually has this “winter fresh” sensation when you bite in, which you only experience in the candied state, as I’ve never felt that sensation when it’s actually cooked.
I plan on making a quick few simple New Year goodies to enjoy on New Year’s day, including New Year’s Cake. The New Year Cake is actually really really simple to make. It’s made of glutinous rice and brown sugar and is steamed. In it’s fresh state, it’s quite sticky. It’s usually made ahead of time and then refrigerated, where it becomes hard. Once you heat it up though, it becomes soft and chewy again, similar to mochi. It’s usually cut into pieces, breaded with some egg batter, then deep fried. The breading keeps the outside from being too sticky and the deep frying allows the cake to become soft and chewy again.
Another treat I like to make is rice balls, another sweet I can whip up in just a few minutes and also traditionally eaten during New Year’s.
Even though I don’t have time to make all the traditional New Year’s foods, I do plan on hitting as many as possible this weekend. So far we’ve eaten noodles (for long life), steamed rice cake (for good luck), and dumplings (the shape resembles ancient chinese money).
If you’re looking to make something for the Lunar New Year, here are some recipes I’ve done in the past:
- Chinese BBQ Pork
- Fa Gao (Steamed Prosperity Cakes)
- Lion’s Head Meatball Soup
- Pot Stickers
- Rice Balls
- Scallion Pancakes
- Steamed Buns
Hope everyone has a great rest of the weekend!