Also check out this radio segment from the Feb. 17th episode of The Takeaway (produced by WNYC, Public Radio International, and BBC World Service). I chatted with actor B.D. Wong about Chinese New Year foods and some picks from my list of 100 Chinese Foods to Try.
I just realized it has been a looong time since I did a recipe round-up on this site. Two and a half years, in fact. It's usually much more fun (for me and the reader) to have new content, but it seems fitting after this much time to gather up some of my favorite foods for Chinese New Year in this post.
1.Chinese tea eggs- Everyone should make these. They are one step harder than boiling an egg, taking only 5 minutes of hands-on time (not including boiling time). That marbly experior will impress all your guests who did not grow up eating tea eggs. If you want to get fancy, top them with caviar.
2. Water chestnut cake - The Chinese eat all sorts of "cakes" for the new year because they symbolize growing very tall. Eating them never worked for me. But the idea is still nice.
3. Pan-fried dumplings - Set aside a few hours and have a dumpling wrapping party. Don't worry about having extras. They freeze well, and are easy to cook up even if you get home late from work, tired, starving, and groggy.
4. Turnip cake - More cake! I never go through an entire dim sum meal without ordering these. They're more time consuming to make at home, but I like being able to control just how crispy to pan-fry the outsides.
5. Dan dan noodles - It's pure blasphemy to not eat noodles during the New Year. Blame it on superstition - noodles themselves symbolize longevity, and it's supposedly bad luck to cut them, even accidentally, while you're serving. Dan dan noodles are a nice spicy Sichuan alternative to my other non-spicy Cantonese picks on this list.
6. Stir-fried vermicelli with garlic and scallions - But of course, being Cantonese, I have to represent, and include a noodle dish popular in the south.
7. Easy Chinese Steamed Fish - You can use this simple fish preparation with a bunch of different sauces. Try this black bean and ginger sauce, or improvise with lemon and garlic, chilis and scallion, maybe even ginger and beer.
8. Ginger and Scallion Crab - This is by far the easiest crab preparation I have ever learned, thanks to my Grandpa, 80-something years young, who still struts off to the market every week and beams with excitement when unpacking a bag of these crustaceans. The recipe is 6 ingredients long and takes about 20 minutes, including cracking.
9. Three Cup Chicken - The name of this dish comes from the ingredients; you need equal parts soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. Just don't take the name literally and use 3 cups of each, unless you really like the smell of sesame.
10. Red-Cooked Pork - Despite having the name "Spring Festival" in China, Chinese New Year still occurs in the dead of winter. Which is why casserole dishes are an imperative. (Trust me. I ate casserole dishes left and right one year even in sub-tropical Hong Kong.) This braised pork belly dish with anise will perfume your entire house. And because it's a holiday, pork belly is not only allowed but encouraged.
Enjoy, and happy new year!