Lucky Recipes for Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, also called “Spring Festival,” starts on Tuesday, and festivities last for two weeks. Food plays an integral role, with dishes that symbolize prosperity, longevity and good luck for the coming year. We tapped some of our favorite chefs for their versions of traditional New Year dishes. Gong xi fa cai!
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Cantonese-Style Braised Whole Fish
Prosperity Toss Salad
Long Life Noodles with Chicken and Mushrooms
Sichuan Chaoshou Dumplings
Courtesy Larry Ng Wai Kwok, executive chef, China Tang, Las Vegas
For a simple way to observe Chinese New Year this February, serve seafood. Yú, the Chinese word for fish, is “a homonym for ‘abundance year after year,’” says Larry Ng Wai Kwok, executive chef of China Tang restaurant, inside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. “Having yú for Chinese New Year dinner symbolizes wealth, health and a harmonious family.” He recommends stir-fried bok choy as a side dish, as its green color signifies wealth.
- 2–3 pound whole white fish, like branzino, porgy or snapper, cleaned
- Salt, for seasoning
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- ¾ cup fish stock
- ¼ pound slab bacon, halved
- 2-inch knob ginger, peeled and thin-sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, thin-sliced
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons premium light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
Rinse fish and pat dry. Use sharp knife to make three shallow, diagonal cuts on each side of fish. Rub with salt, and rest for 10 minutes.
In large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm ⅛-inch vegetable oil until shimmering. Add fish, and cook until golden brown all over, about 5 minutes per side. Adjust heat, if necessary, to avoid burning.
Add fish stock, bacon, ginger and garlic. Cover pan, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 10 minutes more. Remove fish and transfer to serving platter.
Add scallions, oyster sauce and light soy sauce to pan. Raise heat to high, and cook until liquid thickens and reduces by half. Remove bacon and reserve for another use. Whisk in dark soy sauce. Spoon sauce over fish. Serves 4.
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht 2014 Pinot Blanc (Alsace). “This wine delivers notes of fresh and baked apples followed by a soft, rounded mouthfeel,” says Bruno Bonnet, wine director for MGM Grand Las Vegas. “When paired with the braised fish, its citric acidity mingles with the ginger spice in the sauce. A crisp, clean, mouthwatering finish completes the interaction with this gorgeous fish.”
Courtesy Maneet Chauhan, executive chef, Tànsuǒ, Nashville, TN
Also known as Yee Sang or Yu Shang, this Cantonese-style salad represents wealth and prosperity for the coming year. The higher you toss, the better your fortune! A mandoline makes quick work of julienning the vegetables. However, as taro is very tough, buy a slightly larger piece of taro root than you need, so you have a “handle” while slicing.
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 6 ounces wonton wrappers (half of a 12-ounce package), sliced ½” thick
- 8 ounces taro root, peeled and julienned
- 1 small pomelo or large grapefruit
- 1¾ ounces package cellophane noodles
- 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
- 4 ounces daikon radish, peeled and julienned
- ¼ cup minced green onion
- ½ cup mixed greens, roughly torn
- 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 tablespoon roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 ounces cooked abalone, julienned (optional)
- Ginger Soy Dressing (recipe below)
Add oil to a high sided sauté pan to a depth of 1 inch. Heat over medium-high heat until it reaches between 350-375˚F. Add won ton strips and cook until golden and crispy, about 45 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add taro and fry until golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Cut pomelo into supremes by peeling the peel and pith away with a knife, then cutting between membranes to release segments. Set aside half the supremes, and reserve the rest for another use.
Cover cellophane noodles with boiling water and soak for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain well, and set aside.
In a wide shallow bowl, arrange won ton strips, taro, pomelo, noodles, carrot, daikon, green onion, and mixed greens next to each other, without mixing. Sprinkle sesame seeds and peanuts over. When ready to serve, pour just enough dressing to coat ingredients, and let every guest participate in tossing the salad with chopsticks. Serves 4.
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1-inch knob ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ cup olive oil
Add soy sauce, ginger, carrot, salt, sugar, and ¼ cup water to a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender with honey and add oil gradually in a steady stream while blending. Blend until smooth and adjust salt or sugar to taste. Cool to room temperature before using.
Château de la Noblesse 2017 Rosé (Bandol). Tim Quinn, Tansuo general manager and beverage director, says, “This is a beautiful, dry yet juicy, rosé that stands up to the complex and layered flavors of the salad without overwhelming it.
Courtesy Joe Ng, executive chef, RedFarm, New York City
E-fu noodles, also called yi mein, are long Cantonese egg noodles that symbolize longevity. They’re a must for Chinese New Year celebrations. This recipe highlights the technique of “velveting,” common in Chinese stir-fries. It creates a silky coating on the meat that also helps seal in its juices.
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons Shaohsing rice wine or dry Sherry
- 6 ounces boneless chicken breast, sliced into strips ¼” thick and 2” long
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1½ ounces dried porcini mushrooms
- 1½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1½ teaspoons sugar
- 8 ounces e-fu noodles (also called yi mein)
- ½ cup minced onion
- 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup minced scallion
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Salt and vegetable oil, as needed
Stir together egg white, wine, cornstarch, 1 tablespoon wine, and ½ teaspoon salt. Add chicken and stir to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
Cover shiitakes and porcinis with 4 cups boiling water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking water, and slice the shiitakes into thin strips. Stir together 1⅔ cups reserved mushroom liquid, soy, oyster sauce, sugar, 1 tablespoon wine, and ¾ teaspoon salt, until sugar and salt dissolve. Set aside liquid and mushrooms separately.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 90 seconds; they should be completely wilted but still chewy. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon to a strainer (leave noodle water on stovetop so it continues boiling) and rinse with cold water. Drain well and set aside. In the same boiling water, add chicken and cook, stirring gently to separate pieces, for about a minute, or just until the pieces are no longer pink in the middle. Drain and set aside.
Heat a wok or very large sauté pan over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, then the reserved mushrooms, onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, so everything sizzles but doesn’t brown. Add the mushroom liquid and boil until it reduces by about half; this should only take 1-2 minutes. Add noodles and cook, stirring gently to coat with sauce, until noodles are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid, 2-3 minutes. Taste and add salt, sugar, and/or soy, if necessary. Add chicken and butter, stir for about 20 seconds, then add scallion, cilantro, and sesame oil and stir just until butter is fully melted. Serves 4.
Planet Oregon 2017 Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley). “This earthy wine from Soter Vineyards has notes of dark cherry and black pepper that complement the flavors of the noodles without being overbearing,” says RedFarm Beverage Director Shawn Chen. “It also has a slight acidity that refreshes the palate.”
Adapted from Noodleholics, Tucson, AZ
Tucson has a strong Chinese community dating back to the mid-1800s, with an exceptionally diverse Chinese culinary scene for a city its size. Noodleholics specializes in noodles from the southern Chinese city of Guilin, but also has staples from other regions. These chaoshou are Sichuan pork dumplings with a chili oil sauce. When eaten for Chinese New year, dumplings represent wealth for the coming year.
- 12 ounces ground pork
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon freshly-grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice wine or dry Sherry
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon white pepper (optional)
- 1 package square wonton wrappers
- Dumpling Sauce (recipe below)
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, for garnish
Using clean hands, combine pork, egg, ginger, sesame oil, wine, soy, and white pepper until uniform. Refrigerate until ready to use. To assemble dumplings, have a small bowl of water next to the dumpling wrappers. Form dumplings by putting a tablespoon of filling in the center of each square. Moisten two edges with water and fold to make a triangle, pressing out any air and pressing edges together to seal. Wet one edge of the base of the triangle, and fold the other edge over it, pressing to seal. This will make the traditional “hat” shape. As you assemble dumplings, put them on a plate or tray and cover loosely, so they don’t dry out. (Dumplings can also be frozen on parchment paper and stored in plastic freezer bags for up to 3 months. To cook, just boil directly from the freezer.)
To cook dumplings, bring a pot of unsalted water to a boil. Working in batches, add dumplings and cook for about 3 minutes, until they float and are cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and divide among serving bowls. Stir dumpling sauce and drizzle over dumplings. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Makes about 30 dumplings.
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoons sugar
- ¼ cup chili oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
Combine soy and sugar until sugar dissolves. Stir in chili oil, sesame oil, and garlic. Set aside until ready to serve.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Dry Riesling (Columbia Valley (WA)). Riesling that is ripe, yet dry, with notes of apple compliment spicy ginger flavors. Vibrant acidity washes away any oily residue from tasty dumpling sauce and balances savory flavors renewing the palate.
- 1Cantonese-Style Braised Whole Fish
- 2Prosperity Toss Salad
- 3Long Life Noodles with Chicken and Mushrooms
- 4Sichuan Chaoshou Dumplings