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Lunar New Year 2012, COTM Edition

Hey, the new year is nearly upon us. Would any home cooking hounds be interested in picking a few traditional dishes of the next week or two from former COTMs, and reporting on them? Maybe report on them in the original COTM thread and then linking the posts here if you're using a COTM recipe?) It's okay if you find an awesome recipe elsewhere and report on it here, too, especially if you link to it or paraphrase it in order to inspire the rest of us.

I'm trying to figure out which dishes would be appropriate:

Per Nina Simonds:

-There may be spring rolls which symbolize bricks of gold bricks.
-Dumplings are often boiled, steamed, or pan-fried when they are said to resemble golden coins. (watch the video here: http://www.spicesoflife.com/2012/01/1...
)-Noodles symbolize and impart a wish of longevity.
-Many Chinese families prefer to serve only vegetarian dishes for New Year’s meal.
- Bowls of oranges and tangerines are put on display to be eaten and they also imply a wish for happiness and prosperity.

Per this story in the Vancouver Sun: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/food...

-crisp-skinned Peking duck wrapped with warm crepes or a crisp-skinned whole chicken (symbolizing a proper beginning and end to the year
)-a whole steamed fish (served whole, head to tail intact as it represents a favour-able beginning and end for the new year)
-Shellfish such as lobster or crab are also served as they represent the life and energy of the powerful dragon
- e-fu mein, also known as long-life noodles.
-clams or scallops, which symbolize wealth and good fortune, as these particular foods have a shape similar to that of coins.
-Roast pig signifies peace and purity
-oysters and green lettuce represent good fortune and prosperity.
-Esteemed dishes such as bird's nest or fish maw soups, usually rich with seafood, represent rarity. -Other luxury foods include squab, pea shoots, baby bok choy, shrimp, abalone and crab.
-The Buddhist vegetarian dish called "Jai" is traditionally served as well, representing purity and purification, since no fish or poultry can be killed for new year celebrations, according to Buddhist traditions.

Hmmm...it looks like the following former COTMs would be appropriate sources of recipes: Dunlop, Young, Nguyen, Pham, Solomon, Seductions of Rice, and Hot Sour Salty Sweet perhaps? http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...



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  1. Oh good, TDQ. I've been playing with that big yellow Chinese encyclopedia and planning a menu. Now I'll switch to one of the COTMs. All I know so far is that we're cooking shrimp, chicken, rice and baby bok choy. What I need to do now is choose the book (s) and recipes...

    Thanks for this.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gio

      Fantastic! Feel free to draw in recipes from elsewhere, too. I just figure it's a good reason to dip back into some former COTM's, but I don't intend it to be restrictive! I have that big yellow book, too!


    2. Hmmm...maybe Steamed Striped Bass with soy sauce, ginger, scallions p. 171 Pham?http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5538...

      Must have Dunlop's Dan Dan Noodles of course...

      I think I need something from Grace Young...


      2 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        You're right about the Dan Dan Noodles. I had that on my list of about 15 recipes to choose from. I think That will be better than the rice I had planned. I don't serve both noodles and rice at the same meal...

        1. re: Gio

          I'm the same way. Rice or noodles, not both.

          Here's a Grace Young piece on Chinese New Year from last year: http://www.graceyoung.com/2011/01/wha...

          She mentions her recipe for longevity noodles with chicken, ginger, and mushrooms from SFTTSE:


          Or her Yin Ying Beans (which I remember from trying it last year!


          Or her Stir Fried Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms


          I can't decide whether to do the yin yang beans or the snap peas... Maybe I'll do the snap peas so I can consider doing the dry fried green beans from Dunlop...


      2. I just read that bean curd or tofu is avoided because its white color suggests death and misfortune.
        And, don't forget to include oranges, clementines, or tangerines for good health & long life.

        1. Any excuse to celebrate with food is welcome! I have just recently been going through Nguyen's book, voraciously exploring the pages, and have a huge list of stuff that I want to try out of it. Having a weekend to plan out the menu is perfect. Excellent idea, Dairy Queen!

          1. After reading all the suggestions I guess I must be psychic since I stopped in Chinatown on my way to the train last night and picked up a roast duck, shiitake mushrooms, snap peas and clementines. Now I just have to decide what else to have with them. I will report back.

            6 Replies
            1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

              Ooooh! When I was looking up recipes I saw some very appealing ones with whole roast duck. I'll bet your meal will be splendid, once you settle upon the exact dishes!


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                After going through my dozens of Asian cook books I finally settled on recipes I got when I took Chinese cooking classes over thirty years ago. I boned the roast duck and stir fried it with a Szechuan tangerine sauce. I also made yu shiang stir fried vegetables and rice. It was all very spicy and wonderful.

                1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                  That sounds spicy and wonderful. I love the idea of that tangerine sauce. Is it pretty versatile?


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I use it with everything- chicken, shrimp. beef. I will put it up when I get home tonight.

                  2. re: AGM_Cape_Cod


                    1 1/2 lb skinned and boned chicken, cut into cubes
                    1 t cornstarch
                    2/3 cup diced onion
                    4 scallions cut into 1-inch lengths
                    5 diced dried red pepper, minced
                    2 t Szechwan peppercorns, roasted and ground
                    2 t fresh ginger minced
                    2 T tangerine or orange juice
                    2 T soy sauce
                    1 T hoisin sauce
                    3/4 t sugar
                    3/4 t Szechwan chili paste with garlic
                    2 cups oil if deep frying
                    2 T tangerine or orange peel, cut into strips
                    1 t white vinegar
                    1 t sesame oil

                    1. Combine chicken and cornstarch
                    2. Combine onion and scallions in small bowl
                    3. Combine chili peppers, peppercorns and ginger in another bowl
                    4. Combine juice, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, and chili paste and mix well.
                    5. Set aside all small bowls.
                    6. Heat oil in wok to 225 degrees F. Add chicken and cook until it loses its pink color. Remove chicken and set aside. Pour out all but 1 T oil. (If desired, chicken can be stir fried in 4 T oil.)
                    7. Heat oil until very hot. Add chili pepper mixture, and stir fry 15 seconds. Add peel. Add combined onion and stir fry 20 second. Mix in chicken. Add juice, mixture, and & stir fry 30 seconds. Add vinegar and stir fry 15 second. Mix in sesame oil and serve.

                    1. I never use the minced dried chili peppers. I wouldn’t know how to mince dried chili peppers.
                    2. You can substitute beef for the chicken and make tangerine beef. I use sirloin strip steak and trim the fat off.

                    1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                      Sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing! I'm definitely putting this on my list of dishes to try.


              2. E's low-carbing, so tonight for myself I'm making a stir-fry with rice cakes (nian gao). i have some leftover seafood from a teppan-yaki place we went to last night so will use that too.

                Tomorrow I'll make a nice dinner we both can eat. Thinking maybe a Dunlop roast duck recipe and a stir-fried veggie dish - maybe the Yin Ying beans TDQ mentions. Will have to go through some of the great suggestions above for other ideas.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Rubee

                  Those are Korean rice cakes - no worries, it's lunar new year there too.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Hmmm....I always thought tteok/dduk and nian gao were interchangeable. Aren't they both sticky rice cakes? Oh well. I guess it's time for plan B. Maybe I'll join E in a grilled steak and stick to the nice Chinese dinner tomorrow.

                    1. re: Rubee

                      They are the same thing. Go with plan A.

                2. We're keeping it very simple tonight: Stir-fried shrimp with snow peas, stir-fried Chinese cabbage and steamed rice. Originally I thought I'd make a chicken dish too but we decided that's quite enough for an evening meal. After all, the Lunar New Year celebration ends on 8 Feb. doesn't it? Still time to make a few other dishes...

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: Gio

                    Funny, I too, am scaling it back tonight. I'm going to make Grace Young's longetivty noodles tonight and, if I'm feeling ambitious, the snow peas (both recipes I linked above). But , you're right, we can drag this celebration out a bit if we wish!


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      The first 2 weeks of the New Year are the most important, ending with the Lantern Festival. Go to and cook Chinese!

                    2. re: Gio

                      Last night's menu was scaled back even further from my original plans.. We made a wonderful shrimp with garlic sauce from Grace Young's Breath of a Wok using wild Florida Gulf shrimp, stir-fried snow peas a la Jacques Pepin (!), and steamed jasmine rice. That's all we could handle on a Monday night.

                      Let me explain the JP recipe. In the book Jacques and Julia Cooking At Home there is a quick cooking technique for what he calls "small vegetables", namely, snow peas and cherry tomatoes, etc.. Snow peas are prepped, placed into a fry pan that has a cover and a small amount of water is poured in. Cook the peas covered over med-high heat till Almost all the water has evaporated. Then fat is added along with seasonings. In the simplest recipe nothing more than EVOO, S & P and whatever herb you want is added. This procedure only takes a few minutes.

                      To make this vaguely Asian I used a bit of peanut oil, minced garlic, minced ginger, soy sauce and cracked Szechuan pepper. This was cooked further till the garlic was golden. At the finish I drizzled a little sesame oil over. The snow peas did not steam and tasted for all the world like a Chinese stir-fry.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Wow! What an interesting technique! I wouldn't suppose it's mentioned anywhere in the current COTM (which I own but haven't used yet???)

                        I, too, scaled down my plans. I'll try and post in the applicable GY thread later, but we had the Longevity Noodles from SFTTSE. Boil the noodles, then put them in a bowl with toasted sesame oil. I used fresh linguine because that's what I could find at my regular (not Asian) market. No time for multiple grocery stops these days!

                        Cut chicken into chunks then put them in a bowl with soy sauce, rice wine, and ginger. Slice some shiitakes and cabbage (I just used regular green cabbage because, again, that's what I could find.)

                        Swirl peanut oil in the wok, then fry some red pepper flakes. Push those aside (I found this impossible, actually), then put the chicken in a single layer in the bottom for a minute or so until it begins to sear. Then stir fry the chicken with the red pepper flakes for a minute or three until the chicken is just cooked. Remove chicken to a bowl.

                        Add in the vegetables and stir fry until wilted. Add them to the bowl with the chicken.

                        Add some more oil to the wok, then stir in the noodles. HEat them up, then add a little soy sauce and rice wine. Some salt and peppers goes in there at some point, too. When the noodles are heated through, add back the chicken and veggies and stir fry until it's all nice and hot, then serve.

                        All in all, a pretty nice dish. Very one pot in nature so you don't necessarily need a lot of other dishes to serve alongside it.

                        Basically, it's the first time I've used my wok since we brought the baby home. Not entirely true: this past weekend, since I knew I would be stir-frying for Lunar New Year, I made some popcorn in the wok to help the seasoning a little.

                        My noodles did stick. I don't know if that's because I did something wrong, had the wrong noodles or what, but it's clear my wok needs a salt-scrub facial. I'll have to get the book out and remember how to do that.

                        I'm hoping to make the stir fried peas and mushrooms mentioned above tonight. I decided it was too ambitious last night.

                        It feels good to be woking again!


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          You know, TDQ, I've had my wok for more than 25 years and I've never given it a salt-scrub facial. Can I suggest that you simply keep using it as is? We use it for simple frying of other recipes than Asian. Continue use is what builds up the non-stick/seasoning quality.. Perhaps others may have different ideas about this, but it has worked for us.

                          1. re: Gio

                            I'm completely okay with not doing a salt scrub, but how do you get food off if it sticks without scrubbing off the patina?

                            I'm telling you, there are two reasons I don't use my wok more:

                            1) Fear of cooking with oil over high heat (I'm getting over this one...)

                            2) Too lazy to care for my wok and/or fear that it's too high maintenance.


                            1. re: Gio

                              TDQ: as for the JP's quick blanch technique the method is not in the main COTM but in one of the companion cookbooks, Jacques and Julia Cooking At Home,

                              1. re: Gio

                                Yep, repeated use, and the odd oiling + high heat after use. It is really just about the same as a cast iron skillet.

                                When starchy stuff occasionally sticks (noodles, heavy potato starch sauces etc), once the food is out, I just add a little water to the wok, bring to a quick boil, and use a kitchen veg brush to get the gunk off (it will come off easily once boiled), then rinse, heat to dry, and oil if absolutely necessary (not usually needed). You really don't need salt, and most importantly just don't let dish soap get anywhere near it.

                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                What an excellent idea about making popcorn in the wok!! I tried that the other day after reading your post, and was amazed at the difference it made in the patina. My wok had lost some of its coating recently from an acidic tamarind dish I had made in it, and this was just what was needed to fix it up! Not to mention that the popcorn was also wonderful.....

                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                  That popcorn tip is from one of Grace Young's books. I love my wok popcorn!


                          2. Sunday I ended up making stir-fried rice cakes even though ButterTart kind of threw me with making a point my pic was a Korean brand (which I knew since it's on the label and I bought that bag at a Korean store). I've always thought rice ovalettes/Chinese rice cakes/Korean rice cakes (not the tubes) are different names for the same kind of flat oval cakes made from sticky rice? I'm not an expert so would love if someone could help me out! Sauce was dark and light soy, ginger, garlic, Sichuan chili-bean sauce, chicken stock, scallions. I added shrimp and lobster.

                            On Monday night I made Dunlop's Fragrant and Crispy Roast Duck. A lot of work (marinating, steaming, drying, frying) when I can buy a hot roast duck from the Asian market for a couple of dollars more, but we both agreed the flavor was better even if the skin was not as crisp with this technique. I cut up the breast (legs set aside to shred for soup, duck stock made with the rest). E is low-carbing so he had his with a stir-fry of scallions with ginger, garlic, and bacon. For me, wrapped in Asian store-bought Peking pancakes with hoisin sauce, cucumbers, and scallions.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Rubee

                              (wish I could edit/add pictures) Will post details on the Dunlop thread, but the marinade was fresh ginger and scallions with a spice paste of Sichuan peppercorns, cao guo/"false cardamom", cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, cloves, and rice wine (didn't have the dried ginger slices so added a combination of ground dried galangal and ginger).

                              1. re: Rubee

                                That duck looks glorious! Admire your effort...I always cave and buy the duck cooked in Chinatown!

                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    Same thing and your dish looks great. I was being annoying.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      Thanks qianning, TDQ, and ButterTart! Lunch today was duck soup with udon noodles, scallions, and cilantro with chili oil. Asian was on the menu last night too. Inspired by InaPlasticCup, I made a Korean roast chicken marinated for about 5 hours in equal parts soy sauce and water, with sugar, ginger, garlic, and Korean gochujang chili paste. E ate his just as is (came out very juicy), while mine was drizzled with sesame oil and more chili, with steamed rice and kimchi.

                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        Wow, that chicken looks gorgeous!


                                        1. re: Rubee

                                          That chicken does look phenomenal! Sounds great too. never done a Korean roast chicken. Maybe I'll have to fix that!

                                    2. Attached are photos of New Years Eve and New Years Day dinners with my in-laws. I'm vegetarian, which is part of the reason there's so much veggie stuff.
                                      Clockwise from top left:
                                      Steamed fish (hong li yu -- lì in 4th tone -- 䲞鱼; I believe this is red Seabream)
                                      Beef, and an aspic made from beef tendon
                                      King oyster mushrooms and abalone
                                      Avocado and tomato salsa (yes, a very traditional Chinese New Year dish) (center)
                                      Shanghai style kau fu (wheat gluten)
                                      Homemade pickled mustard greens (center)
                                      Vegetarian chicken with basil
                                      Vegetarian gong bao "chicken"
                                      Nian gao with jicai ("shepherd's purse")
                                      Boiled chicken

                                      A lot of people will eat vegetarian on New Years Day, which is part of why we made only vegetarian dishes, though some people did eat leftovers from the day before.

                                      In the new years day picture, there is a vegetarian mixed vegetables (杂菜) with fa cai (hair vegetable), dried wheat gluten wheels and fresh winter bamboo shoot braised with red wine lees (红糟), some baby broccoli shoots, and fresh fava beans with scallion oil.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: will47

                                        Avocado? Traditional where? Very interesting. Everything looks wonderful.

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          Sorry, maybe the slight sarcasm didn't come through...

                                          1. re: will47

                                            I was trying to put two and two together...hmm, you could get avocados in HK when we were there in the 80s...hmm they sell a lot of them in NY Chinatown...did I miss something?