Kirbie's Cravings

Lunar New Year Party and Recipes

Today is Lunar New Year’s Eve, which is traditionally celebrated with various food and festivities. If you’re looking for ideas of something to make, I’ve included a round-up of Chinese recipes at the end of this post. I also wanted to share some photos from the Lunar New Year party I had over the weekend.

Growing up, Lunar New Year was always a big deal in my family. After I moved away for college, my roommates and I would have people over for dumpling folding parties or to go out to eat hot pot.

The last few years though, after my siblings and cousins left San Diego and it has just been Mr. K and I, we’ve barely celebrated the holiday. We hit an all-time low last year when we didn’t do a single thing until it was 9 PM and I suddenly decided we had to go out for Chinese food to commemorate the occasion. It wasn’t even good Chinese food and in fact the restaurant closed down soon after. It was during the sad dinner that I vowed to turn things around this year. So, I decided to throw a party!

We invited some good friends over and I attempted to try to cook for about 16 people. Since I share so many recipes on this blog, I knew people would be expecting me to make everything, so I made almost everything from scratch, though we ended up buying the dumplings because Mr. K refused to help me fold a hundred dumplings. It was a lot of fun and I think everyone had a good time. Some of the food didn’t turn out quite as I wanted it to–I haven’t quite mastered trying to cook so many dishes all at the same time.

The last hour before guests arrived was a really big scramble. No matter how many times I am determined to get everything done early, it never happens and the morning hours just get away from us. I did manage to have about 5 minutes to spare and take a few pictures before the first guests arrived. I tried to include some of the traditional dishes served during Lunar New Year, but I didn’t go too crazy trying to include them all. If you’re curious about the holiday and the symbolic foods eaten during this holiday, you can read my previous post here.

Pork and Leek Dumplings

Dumplings are often eaten during New Year’s because they are folded in a shape that resembles ancient currency, so eating them should bring fortune in the new year.

We bought these frozen dumplings from 101 Noodle Express in Irvine. I’ve made my own homemade dumplings in the past but Mr. K refused to help me fold so many and wanted to go buy them instead. While most Asian supermarkets sell frozen dumplings, I don’t really care for the artificial preservatives and so if I buy frozen dumplings, I like to buy them from Chinese restaurants which make them in-house and make their own dough.

Our friends raved about the dumplings. I think it was the most popular item of the day, so I think it was worth the effort of taking the road trip to go buy them.

Crispy Pork Belly

This is one of the dishes that suffered during my multi-tasking. I’ve made it about half a dozen times now with no issues, but this time the skin did not come out right. Instead of golden and crackling, it came out flat and a little overcooked. The meat was still juicy and the skin was actually very crisp like a chip, but it was a bit too hard for me and I’m so annoyed that I let it sit in the oven too long.

Vegetable Lo Mein

Noodles are usually served because they represent long life. My wok couldn’t quite handle so many servings of Lo Mein so we ended up making them in several batches.

Scallion Pancakes

For some reason, these didn’t quite have as much scallion flavor as I usually prefer for my pancakes. I really need to practice being able to cook for a large group.

Smashed Cucumber Salad

I wanted some more vegetables and I really love this dish. Plus it’s supposed to be eaten cold, so I didn’t need to worry about trying to make i stay warm.

Chinese New Year Cake

Of course, since it was a New Year’s party, I had to serve New Year’s cake. It is supposed to be good luck to eat it because the cake name is a homonym for “higher year.”  The cake is a simple steamed cake made of glutinous rice flour and brown sugar. It has a chewy, mochi-like texture. It’s usually cut into squares and pan-fried, which is what I did here.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, breaking from tradition, I wanted to serve some of my favorite dessert recipes. It’s been awhile since I  made the New York Times cookies because they take so long to make, but I had a few friends hinting that they missed them, so I decided to bake some. Yes, the recipe is a little complicated but these are the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve come across and worth the effort. Everyone seemed to really enjoy them.

Cookies and Cream Cookies

I also made my chewy cookies and cream cookies because they are easy and one of my favorite cookie recipes.

Eight Treasure Rice

One of my friends brought over this beautiful eight treasure rice dish she made. This has been on my to-do list, but I’ve never made it before. It’s a sticky sweet rice that is layered with 8 different ingredients or “treasures.”

Some of the common ones include dried fruits, red bean paste, and sweetened nuts. Hers was so lovely. Now I need to make my own!

Overall, the party seemed to turn out pretty well. We had a good time hanging out with our friends and hopefully they had fun too. Happy Lunar New Year’s Eve!

Recipe Round-Up

Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu)

Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou)

Crispy Pork Belly

Dumplings

Egg Drop Soup

Honey Walnut Shrimp

Lettuce Wraps

Lo Mein

New Year’s Cake

Pan Fried Noodles

Scallion Pancakes

Sesame Bread

Shrimp Toast

Smashed Cucumber Salad

Steamed Prosperity Cakes (Fa Gao)

Sweet Glutinous Rice Balls

Tea Eggs

 

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14 comments on “Lunar New Year Party and Recipes”

  1. We savored every last bite of the NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies!  You baked them PERFECTLY.  I’m gonna try making it sometime very soon.  Your crispy pork was really flavorful too.  Thanks again and Happy Chinese New Year (officially)!  🙂 

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the cookies! you definitely should try making them sometime soon. And i’m so glad you guys were able to make it. Your kids are adorable =)

  2. Happy Lunar New Year!  I always make my own dumpling filling but use store-bought wrappers.  I agree that the frozen ones at the supermarkets aren’t that great, and the places that sell their own dumplings are too far to drive on a regular basis.  I recently started to make homemade wrappers but the dough is trickier to work with.

    • I do the same. I make my own filling and use the store bought wrappers because it takes so much time to make your own. One of these days I’ll attempt homemade wrappers. Happy New Year!

  3. Ooooh I’ve never heard of the 8 treasure rice before but I think I would like it, I love rice in desserts!

    Yesterday I made homemade dumplings to celebrate. The dough on them turned out quite good but I think I still need to work on my filling recipe. I’ve always bought frozen before but now I think it might be worth it to either make a bunch and freeze or do you like you did and buy from a restaurant!

    • Ooh, eight treasure rice is so good! I always order it at restaurants. it’s sort of like mango sticky rice, but the Chinese version and with more ingredients. When i make homemade ones, I always make a ton and freeze them. i think the filling of homemade ones taste so much better than the ones at the grocery store

  4. Hey Kirbie;

    I cannot Thank-You enough for sharing all of the Wonderful Lunar Recipes which you have posted!!!

    I am so looking forward to making Each and Every one of them!!! 🙂
    I must agree with you about the prices of some items which you get for Take-Away, as the prices are just outrageous, and sometimes the food quality is just not there, and also the amount of food for what you pay is Crazy!!!
    I will have to let you know how Everything turns out once I make the foods!!! BTW, I Always have Kim Chee in the Fridge, so it is on the Table with Anything Asian!!! Thank-You so much. Take Care, and Stay Warm!!!

  5. Aww I liked the pork belly! (Although S and I wouldn’t mind at all if you made the version that you like and shared it with us again, hehehe). Thanks so much for hosting and cooking everything!!

    • I’m glad you still enjoyed it! I want to make it again though. Maybe next time when I don’t have a million other things I’m making so I can concentrate on it. I’m so glad you guys were able to come!

  6. LOVE IT! It’s such an amazing experience to get to cook and share so many amazing dishes with friends and family on Lunar New Year! ?????Kirbie!

  7. Wow! Looks delicious!

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