Is it the Year of the Goat, Sheep, or Ram? In Vietnam, where the celebration is called Tet Festival, it’s definitely the Year of the Goat. Japanese followers of the lunar zodiac have been busy sending postcards heralding the Year of the Sheep. In Hong Kong I saw mostly cute, fluffy sheep, although retailers’ store windows include cheeky goats and curly-horned rams as well, inviting passersby in to capture their share of the marketing bonanza that is the equivalent of Christmas in the West. One reason for the confusing trio of animal references could be because, “The Chinese character yang can be translated as all of these animals — even the gazelle is called yang in Chinese,” says Isaac Yue, who teaches Chinese mythology at the University of Hong Kong, in a recent CNN article.
The two-week celebration begins today and the animal confusion is not affecting the annual mass migration to family hometowns or vacation for the Spring Festival – an estimated 2.8 billion trips will be made in China. Celebrations revolve around food and certain dishes are eaten during the Chinese New Year for their symbolic meaning. Lucky food is served during the 16-day festival season, especially New Year’s Eve, which is believed to bring good luck for the coming year. The auspicious symbolism of these foods is based on their pronunciations or appearance. Not only do the dishes themselves matter, but also the preparation, and ways of serving and eating hold meaning as well.
The most common Chinese New Year foods includes dumplings, fish, spring rolls, and niangao (glutinous rice cake). My friend Victoria, who’s not Chinese but is obsessed with Chinese food, posted a glorious array of Chinese dishes – everything from pork and cabbage dumplings to scallion pancakes – on her website Mission Food.
My Baked Salmon Egg Rolls will bring you good luck and good health, PLUS, I’m happy to share the method for making beautifully marbled Tea Eggs with you. Not so much a recipe as a How To, Anita aka Mad Hungry Woman, who is Chinese from Hong Kong, tells us how she made her tea eggs this year.
Anita’s Pork and Cabbage egg rolls earned her 2nd place at Melissa’s Produce friendly egg roll competition at a blogger gathering featuring dishes for Chinese New Year.
The chefs at Melissa’s cooked up an array of new year favorites from stir fry to fried wontons and egg rolls. Chef Tom Fraker entertained us with a demo of how easy it is to make this Asian Cucumber Salad. Like me, he always goes for a little heat to spice things up! Always a salad lover, the cool, crispness and sweet acidity of the Asian Cucumber Salad made it my favorite dish of the buffet – except for the fried wontons, of course.
- 1 1/2 Organic Cucumbers sliced very thin
- Kosher Salt as needed
- 1 Jalapeno Chile use Green Jalapeno Chile seeded and minced
- 1 Red Fresno Chiles seeded and minced
- 2 tablespoons Sesame Seeds toasted
- 3 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Sesame Oil
- 1 tablespoon Light Soy Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Ground Chili Paste
- 2 teaspoons Granulated Sugar Salt and Pepper to taste
Place sliced cucumbers in a bowl, sprinkle with kosher salt and mix well. Cover and chill for about an hour.
In a bowl combine the jalapenos and the next 7 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Drain any excess water from the cucumbers.Return them to the bowl and pour the jalapeno mixture over the cucumbers.
Mix well and serve.
Recipe by Chef Tom Fraker who likes to add a bit more chile paste for a bigger kick.