The celebration of the new Chinese year 4710 -- also known as 2012 -- begins on January 23rd and continues for fifteen days of fun, family gatherings, and, especially, food.
There are many tempting 'lucky' dishes associated with Chinese New Year. Dumplings are a tradition, as are spring rolls, lettuce wraps, long noodle dishes, and whole fish in many different preparations, along with certain fruits, vegetables, and sweets meant to encourage good fortune, happiness, and longevity.
Some foods, such as clams and Jau gok dumplings, are traditionally served because they bear a resemblance to coins or gold ingots. Other foods have names that sound like the Chinese words representing luck, prosperity, or abundance.
For example, the word for 'fish' is a homophone for the word meaning 'surplus'. Fish is served whole, i.e., head and tail intact, since one wouldn't want to cut or shorten ones surpluses in any way. It's also common to leave some uneaten, to be refrigerated overnight as a symbol of savings and reserves.
Fish and seafood dishes are a big part of the celebratory foods for Chinese New Year, and this year lobster and shrimp will have a starring role, as 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. In the Chinese zodiac, the animals representing the qualities of the year (and those born in it) have various elemental aspects (such as Fire, Wood, Metal, etc) depending on the cycle. Coincidentally, 2012 is the year of the Water Dragon, which makes it an especially good occasion to enjoy these tempting Chinese and Asian-inspired recipes.
Here's a fun and colorful noodle dish that features tender clams, lots of crunchy fresh vegetables, and a special ingredient: dried Chinese sausage. Like other types of dried sausage, the flavor of Chinese sausage is deep and concentrated, but with a delightful touch of sweetness and spice that gives it a unique flavor. It pairs beautifully with seafood dishes, and contributes a pleasing chewy texture to the dish.
One of the great Chinese restaurant dishes is a whole fish crispy-fried and then served with sweet-and-sour sauce. It is a dramatic presentation and the combination of sweet-sour-hot-savory can't be beat.
Easy to follow instructions for this venerable Chinese classic lobster dish flavored with salted black beans, garlic, ginger, and sherry.
Using the master recipe for Asian Shrimp and Pork Filling, you can easily make these delightful (and very impressive) steamed dim sum appetizers. They're great for parties, holiday get-togethers, or as an extra fancy first course in a Chinese meal.
Here's another fun way to use the easy and versatile Asian Shrimp & Pork Filling. These crispy delights are a snap to make and are great as a party appetizer or a first course.
This is a party appetizer that also makes an elegant amuse-bouche or first course. Using the recipe for Asian Shrimp & Pork Filling, these are very quick and easy to make.
This sweet and savory recipe uses bacon, chiles, and cilantro to accent mussels cooked in a fragrant broth of coconut juice and ginger.
This is an authentic recipe for Sichuan kung pao squid, but it can also be used with shrimp. Some of the keys to making this a real kung pao are marinating the squid in cornstarch and egg whites, as well as getting your hands on Sichuan pepper.
This is a simple recipe that produces beautiful and fragrant results. Asian black beans add a special flavor to the delicate flounder, and the ginger, garlic, and scallions are the perfect accompanying notes. A drizzle of sesame oil adds another level of Asian flair.
This is a super fast and super easy recipe that everyone will love. It makes an impressive appetizer and is terrific for parties and special occasions. Sweet chili sauce can be found in Asian grocery stores and in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets.
Whether you serve these as an appetizer, a lunch dish, or as a salad, these tasty and satisfying veggie rolls have a little secret -- they're good for you! They're low carb as well as low fat (they use just a dab of wasabi mayo) and are full of crunchy vegetables and protein-rich fish. Who knew that being virtuous could be so delicious?
Holly A. Heyser
A zesty Asian influenced dish that features seared jumbo sea scallops in a delicious sauce of fragrant ginger and tangy lime, surrounded by grilled baby leeks.