Tag Archives: chinese new year

Chinese New Year dinner

Happy Chinese New Year! For family dinner on Tuesday, we made up an (early) Taiwanese-influenced dinner. Dumplings are symbolic of family reunion and so they’re always around at this time when families are reunited. Our recipe is from a friend of friend, learned at the ‘boys’ part’ of a baby shower. Thanks, Bosco.

It was a meal made in America, not in Taiwan, that’s for sure. Although we could find wrappers at the supermarket (the Chinese grocery was a long hike), they were wonton wrappers – thinner and square. They ended up working, more or less, though I wouldn’t recommend using them. Find the round ones.

The tomato eggs are one of my favourite foods in Taiwan. Chris learned them from a Taiwanese woman whose kids she was teaching. This was the first time we tried them, and while they were good, they need work. They were a little too scrambled – though I’ve had them like this before, usually they’re a little chunkier.

The ginger beans are easy and delicious. Simple as that, though we found them online while in Argentina. No Chinese New Year connection there, just a tasty side.

Finally, as I went to post this, a post on someone else’s CNY dinner on the other side of the world popped up. It’s worth a look – they also do pot-sticker dumplings, as well as beef noodles (representative of long life) and egg custard tarts (a recipe I’ll be trying out myself). Check it out!

Ginger Green Beans

2 lbs beans
3 inches ginger, peeled and julienned
3 tbsp butter/sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
zest of 1/2 lemon
soy sauce to taste

1. Cook beans until just tender. Drain, put in ice water, pat dry.
2. Cook ginger in butter/oil until golden, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the beans and cook for about 2 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, add zest and salt and soy sauce.

Tomato Eggs

4 small-medium tomatoes, cut into chunks (optional: blanche and skin them first)
5 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1/2 c green onion, chopped
2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped or minced
2 tsp potato or corn starch, mixed with 2 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp sugar

1. Heat 1-2 tbsp oil and fry the ginger.
2. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft & juicy. Add a little water if it looks dry.
3. Add sugar, another pinch of salt, and the starch/water mixture. Mix together so things thicken.
4. Add the eggs, cook like scrambled eggs, but stir as little as possible.
5. When mostly done, add green onions.

Pot-sticker Dumplings

1/2 lb ground pork (can also use ground chicken, turkey, beef, or tofu)
2-3 stalks bok choy
8-10 straw mushrooms (aka needle mushrooms – thin mushrooms that are mostly stalk)
3-4 Chinese mushrooms (dehydrated)
1/2 tsp ginger, minced OR 1/4 tsp dried ginger
1 stalk green onion, chopped
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg
1 package dumpling wrappers (3.5-4″ diameter), thawed (if bought frozen)

Soak Chinese mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes until soft and re-hydrated, discard stem. Chop up bok choy, mushrooms, and green onions into 1/4″ or smaller pieces.

In a large bowl, combine ground meat, chopped vegetables, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and pepper and mix well.

Whip the egg in a small bowl. It’ll be used for holding the wrappers together.

To make the dumplings (and I apologize in advance – this is much easier shown than described), place one wrap flat on a plate or clean surface. Brush egg on the top 3/4 of the wrapping and spoon 1 to 1-1/2 tsp of mixture in the centre of the wrapping.

Rather than try and explain how to fold a dumpling, I’ll simply direct you to the Google search, full of explanations and videos that are much better than trying to follow my directions. Good luck!

The dumplings can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours or frozen for considerably longer in an airtight container. I recommend freezing them separately on a floured plate first, then putting them in a bag or container. This prevents them from sticking together.

To cook the dumplings, put 1-2 tsp of oil in a frying pan at medium heat. Arrange the dumplings in a circle or two on the pan and cook until the bottom is light brown (2-3 minutes if fresh, 4-5 if cooking from frozen). Add 3/4 to 1 cup of water (depending on size of the pan and amount of dumplings you’re cooking) to cover the bottom the pan and put the lid on immediately. The steam in the frying pan will cook the top part of the dumpling. Check the dumpling when the steam stops or in 3-4 minutes. The dumpling should be done when the water is all evaporated. Be careful not to burn the dumplings – add more water if necessary.

Dipping sauce: the recipe I got recommended 2 parts dark soy sauce with 1 part Worchestershire sauce. In Taiwan, we would have a mix of soy sauce, chili paste, garlic, and vinegar. Here, we found a chili-garlic paste at the supermarket and brought out vinegar and soy sauce and let everyone make their own sauce. It worked out great!

chinese new year food

Well, despite the fact that we’ve been here a while, I’m only just getting to the food here now, six months later. So be it. What better way to start that with the start of the new year? The Year of the Ox came in on Monday and Sunday night was the traditional gathering with family. We were invited to Christine’s co-teacher’s mother-in-law’s to join in the feast. And what a feast! Her mother-in-law had been in the kitchen for hours and barely came out while we sat, insisting she had to keep cooking! Mothers, the same everywhere. So here’s what was laid out that night, starting at the top left and going clockwise:

1. Large pieces of fish with some amazing topping. I have no idea what the topping was, only that it was delicious. Very common to find that here, though – they love their fish.

2. Needle mushrooms and bamboo. Probably my least favourite dish, it smelled very Taiwanese. It’s hard to describe what that means (maybe a little cloying and thick?), but it’s distinctive.

3. Two kinds of soup. This is a New Year’s Eve specialty – usually only one kind of soup is served. The bigger bowl is chicken and ginseng and some other special Taiwanese dried berry-medicine thing. The other soup is turnip, corn, and chicken. Chicken and home are the same word (different tone) in Taiwanese, so that’s why chicken soup is pretty popular, especially at weddings.

4. Whole shrimp. Very nicely done, I ate a lot of these.

5. (in the far corner) A cabbage dish. This was nice, it had a little meat on top and was cooked in a broth.

6. Clams. Oh, delicious clams with basil, which does a great job of getting rid of the fishy taste. I ate a lot of these. There was another plate of these beside the #1fish.

7. Crab legs. Cooked to the point that the crab could just be scraped out. Really tasty, though a little time consuming, being crab legs and all.

8. Green beans with pork and spicy peppers. I really liked these and would love to know how to make them. Just like regular green beans, but with a kick and little extra tastes.

9. (white and dark orange) Prepared, pressed fish roe, a very popular dish here in Taiwan. The deep-fried items are whole female fish (full of eggs) and the yellow things are something sweetish wrapped in some kind of pastry. Sorry, this is how reporting will be here sometimes – I just don’t know or there isn’t any English.

10. Crab and Chinese celery. I think this may have been my favourite dish. Done in a broth, very simple, but so very good. So much crab with no effort. That may have been what did it for me.

We brought Bailey’s, which wasn’t the best choice, as the mother- and father-in-law are teetotalers. Oh well, you can’t win them all. We had a fabulous feast and were filled to the gills for the rest of the night.

A few other Chinese New Year traditional foods: oranges (I think because the first sound for orange sounds like the word for wish, but this is merely conjecture), peaches (signs of wealth of good fortune), pomelos (not sure why), and pineapple (in Taiwanese the word for pineapple sounds like “good come”, though I don’t think they specifically eat it). Oh, there is also a type of candy-coated peanut which only appears around this time. Nothing special, they’re always pink and white, but they are only available around Chinese New Year.

I always enjoy this time, certainly for the food. As with any holiday anywhere, it brings out the best in people’s cooking and some of the best, most special dishes. I’m really glad we got to take in such a wonderful sharing this year.