Ching-He Huang: A Blueprint for Your Chinese New Year's Eve Feast
|Golden pork and prawn dumplings|
On the feast
Fish -- "In Chinese, we say nian nian you yu, which means every year we wish to have abundance. Yu is also a homonym for yu, as in fish. So I have a dish I call the Abundance Sea Bass and quite simply it's steamed, dressed with a little bit of Shaoxing rice wine, and stuffed with ginger. Just before steaming, I prepare a stir-fry of Chinese ingredients. We've got some salted lardons, shiitake mushroom, and chestnuts, which are stir-fried with soy sauce (dark and light) and sesame oil to bring it some flavor. Then just before serving, you pour it all over the top and you've got the sweetness of the sea bass and the savoriness of the stir-fry."
Dumplings -- "I have Golden Fried Pork and Prawn Dumplings. You've got to have dumplings on Chinese New Year, which symbolizes wealth. We make a great filling. You stuff the ingredients into some golden wonton wrappers -- which you can buy -- so it's a really easy thing to do and then you just fry them before your guests are ready to tuck in so they are nice and piping hot. What's great about dumplings is that you can make them in advance. You can actually freeze them and fry them frozen."
Poultry (typically chicken) -- "I've also got a soy-glazed roasted duck, which symbolizes unity and completeness. And there is the golden tone again because it symbolizes wealth. The soy-glazed, citrus-spiced duck is very simple to do and stress-free because you can have that in the oven while your fish steaming."
Shrimp -- "There is a delicious New Year shrimp salad. You've got to have shrimp because in Cantonese tradition xia sounds like ha. It sounds like laughter and happiness. In that spirit, I've made a really simple cold shrimp salad with soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar dressing with a little bit of chili and cilantro."
Noodles -- "You've got to have noodles as they symbolize longevity. Traditionally, we had on the farm was long life thin misua, which are very thin wheat flour noodles. I make a Taiwanese cold noodle salad, which also uses wheat flour noodles. I go for a slightly thicker one and then grated carrots, grated cucumber, and bean sprouts, just lightly blanched. I create a very thin golden egg crepe, just fold it on itself and slice into strips, and top it off with some shichimi pepper. That's served with traditional Taiwanese liang mian (cold noodle) dressing of black sesame [paste] with some chili sauce and soy sauce. That gets dressed at the table and the guests help themselves."
Vegetables (often mustard greens) -- "You must have vegetables as well. The stir-fried vegetables as in cai from gong xi fa cai to wish you prosperity and health. I do a rainbow mix of stir-fried vegetables instead of going for the traditional gai lan or bok choy. I use red cabbage together with some red and yellow peppers, spring onions, and carrots. It's really vibrant and with the usual Chinese seasonings in there."
Hot Pot -- "I also feature a hot pot on the show, because that's another traditional Chinese New Year way of feasting. Just set up an electric burner in the middle of a table and get the freshest ingredients. You can get all the traditional foods, like uncut mung bean noodles, giant tiger shrimp, fish balls, meatballs, dumplings, even wontons -- representing Chinese-style money bags, and niangao (sticky rice cake)."
For more culinary pointers, Ching's Chinese New Year will be airing this Sunday, February 10 at 5 p.m. (PST) on Cooking Channel.
- Celebrate the Year of The Snake With Ching's Chinese New Year
- Q & A with Ching-He Huang of Cooking Channel's Easy Chinese: Heritage Over Authenticity + San Gabriel Valley's Tastes of Home
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