What is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year, also referred to as the Lunar New Year, is a Chinese festival that marks the beginning of the new year. It starts on the second new moon after the winter solstice and ends on the full moon fifteen days later. The celebration typically revolves around spending time with family and friends, special meals, fireworks, and gift giving.

What do People Eat for Chinese New Year?

Here are seven foods considered to be lucky to eat during Chinese New Year.

fish – for an increase in prosperity
dumplings  – for wealth
spring rolls – for wealth
sweet rice balls – for family bonding
good fortune fruits – these include grapes, lychee, plums, jujube (a type of date) and Kumquats, and are for fullness and wealth
rice cakes – for a higher salary and career status
longevity noodles – for happiness and longevity 

Chinese Dumplings…  for Wealth!

The Filling
1 pkg Melissas Won Ton wrappers
1 lb. ground pork
4 large Napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks of green onion, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced
¼ cup of ginger root, minced
3 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil (plus 2 Tbsp more for frying) 

The Dipping Sauce
2 T rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce
2 t sesame oil
1 dash of Siracha

To Prepare the Filling

Mix all the ingredients together well. It is possible to prepare the filling ahead of time and freeze it. 

Wrapping the dumplings

Put a heaping teaspoonful of filling into the center of the wrapper. Pour a ¼ cup water into a shallow dish and dip your finger to moisten the outer edge of the wrapper (all around the edge). Fold the wrapper in half, creating a semi-circle with the filling inside, and gently pinch the edges of the wrapper together, sealing them completely. Gather the sealed edges and pleat them together to form the edge of the dumpling.

To Pan Fry the Dumplings

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of Sesame oil in a skillet. Once hot (but not smoking) add your dumplings to the pan, smooth side down, and cook for a few minutes until the bottom turns golden brown. Add about ¼ cup of water to the skillet, cover with a lid, and steam the dumplings for 4-5 minutes to cook the filling. Remove the lid and cook for another 2-3 minutes until all the water has cooked off.

Tangy Dipping Sauce

Mix together the rice vinegar and sesame oil with soy sauce, and a little Siracha if you like a little heat.

What are Longevity Noodles?

Chinese Longevity Noodles, or long noodles, are eaten all over China. These noodles are never cut or broken by the cook, and if they can be eaten without biting through the strands, it’s considered even more auspicious.

Longevity Noodles are a type of Yi Mein, which is a Cantonese egg noodle made with wheat flour and soda water, which makes them a bit chewier.  Longevity noodles are usually stir fried.  

Chinese Longevity Noodles… for happiness and longevity!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings: 8
Calories: 280 kcal 

1 (1-pound) bag fresh or dry  Melisssa’s Chinese noodles
Grape or sesame seed oil for the pan and to toss with noodles
1 1/4 cup yellow onion thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger pulp
1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
5 cups Napa Cabbage washed and dried, thinly sliced
5 cups Gai Lan washed and dried, thinly sliced (this is Chinese Broccoli… an easy substitute is Broccolini)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Chile paste (my favorite is Sambal Oelek)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the fresh Chinese noodles. Immediately stir with a fork to be sure they don't stick together. Let them cook just until they're tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, add them back to the pot, and toss them with seed oil. Set aside.

2. Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with seed oil and place it over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and ginger.

3. Cook, stirring periodically, until the onions are soft, about 7 minutes.

4. Add the Gai Lan (broccolini) and cabbage and stir. Cook until all the greens are wilted, about 5 minutes. Then use a spatula to gently push all the ingredients to one side of the pan.

5. Melt the butter in the empty side and add the Chile paste and vinegar to it. Stir until it's blended and then gently incorporate it into the rest of the ingredients. In a very large serving dish and toss the cooked noodles with the contents of the sauté pan. Serve! 

Special Extra Recipe for those who are adventurous!

Savory Tang Yuan are sticky rice dumplings filled with pork, salted radish, and mushrooms, perfect for celebrating Chinese New Year & the Lantern Festival.

Prep Time: 2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Servings: 8

For the filling:
⅔ ounce dried Shiitake mushrooms
1 ounce salad shrimp (found in seafood dept)
3 ounces radish, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ cup ground pork
2 teaspoons Chinese Rice wine
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (finely chopped)
1 scallion (finely chopped)
1 cup Shiitake mushroom in soaking water
2 teaspoons cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)

For the dough:
3½ cups glutinous rice flour, plus more for dusting)
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups warm water

1. First make the filling. Remove stems and soak your dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of hot water for 30 minutes. Place a small plate on top to ensure they’re fully submerged. Finely chop the mushrooms and set aside, reserving the soaking water.

2. Strain and rinse the shrimp before chopping them. Rinse the radish under running water and chop

3. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in your wok over medium low heat. Add the ground pork and stir- until the pork is no longer pink. Next, add the shrimp and cook until fragrant (about a minute).

4. Add the chopped Shiitake mushrooms, salted preserved radish, and Shaoxing wine. Stir fry for another 30 seconds. Mix in the sesame oil, salt, sugar, white pepper, oyster sauce, chopped cilantro, chopped scallion and 1 cup of the mushroom soaking liquid.

5. Cook on medium low heat until simmering, stirring often for 2 to 3 minutes, or until about half of the liquid has evaporated. Next, stir in the cornstarch slurry. Cook until the mixture thickens, and all standing liquid cooks off. Set aside, cool, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

6. While the filling cools, make the dough. Mix 3½ cups glutinous rice flour and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Stir in 1½ cups warm water and mix with chopsticks or a rubber spatula until a dough begins to form. Use your hands to knead until smooth. If the dough is too sticky, simply add more glutinous rice flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a smooth ball.

7. Next, pinch off three small pieces of dough to form three balls about 1 inch in diameter. Cook in a small pot of boiling water until they float, about 6 to 7 minutes. Now, add them to the raw dough, kneading them in until the dough is soft and smooth. Don’t worry it will come together.

8. Now, divide the dough into 24 equal pieces, a bit larger than a golf ball. Keep them covered with a clean, damp kitchen towel to prevent drying while assembling your Savory Tang Yuan.

9. Take your filling out of the refrigerator, stirring it to redistribute the ingredients. There should be no visible liquid, and the filling should be somewhat dry.

10. Use your fingers to form each dough ball into a round disc. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling on the center of the disc. Use the spoon to lightly pack the filling so there are no air pockets. Fold over the edges of the dough to close the tang yuan, lightly pressing in the savory filling if needed. If the dough breaks, you can use a small piece of dough to patch it, using a little dab of glutinous rice flour and water to spackle it back together. Keep a small bowl of both handy for this purpose.

11. Next, gently roll the tang yuan between the palms of your hands to shape it into a uniform round ball. Set your finished tang yuan on a piece of parchment paper that has been lightly dusted with glutinous rice flour. Repeat this process until you have made all the savory tang yuan. You’ll need another clean, damp kitchen cloth to cover them. Repeat these steps until you’ve assembled all the tang yuan.

12. To cook the tang yuan, boil water in a medium pot (you’ll need at least a 4” depth of water). Use a slotted spoon to gently lower the tang yuan into the boiling water, stirring so they don’t have a chance to stick to the pot. Don’t overfill your pot, as this makes it difficult to cook the tang yuan evenly. Lower the heat to a slow boil.

13. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until your Savory Tang Yuan float to the top, stirring periodically.

14. Spoon your savory tang yuan into bowls with some of the cooking water. Add seasonings like sesame oil, salt, and scallions and/or cilantro to taste.