Chinese New Year Feast at Home and Symbols

Monday, February 15, 2010

The year of the Tiger also falls on Valentine's Day, which I don't celebrate because I deserve chocolates and flowers everyday expect February 14th; really, the day is too cheesy for me I like chick flick cheesy not Nicholas Sparks cheesy. I look forward to Chinese New Year because of the red envelopes and our traditional family dinner.

The red envelopes are passed out immediately after dinner. We speak a few traditional Good Luck quotes and in return are beautifully decorated red envelopes with gifts of green paper.

The reunion family dinner is held on New Year's eve with luxury dishes symbolizing different meanings. The celebration continues for 15 days with no shortages of sweets, banana leaf wrapped goodies, and leftovers. The most important factor of New Year's Eve dinner is to have leftovers to carry into the New Year.

The leftovers represent abundance for the coming year (年年有余.)

Fish (魚): The most important dish because the word symbolizes fortune and abundance. We steamed two fresh fish simply with soy sauce, ginger, dressed with fresh green onions and a hot splash of sizzling oil before plating.

Chinese New Year Dinner - Steamed Fish

Roast Pork (燒肉): The roast pig is used in so many celebrations, especially weddings since traditionally the groom's family sent it to the bride's family on the 3rd day of marriage. The roast pig, now is associated with family gatherings and celebrations. We also bought an extra piece for "leftovers" and will be sauteed with greens later in the week.

Chinese New Year Dinner - Roast PorkChinese New Year Dinner - Roast Pork

Chicken (鸡): It is important to serve an entire chicken including the head.

The whole chicken represents the togetherness of the family.

The chicken is hormone free and boiled with ginger, served with a side of freshly sliced scallion and blended ginger sauce. The chicken broth is used later to served with noodles; the noodles represent longevity.

Chinese New Year Dinner - Hormone Free Chicken

Lobster (龍蝦): The Chinese name translate to Dragon Shrimp, the word "dragon" is always associated with power and strength. This baby was 4 lbs sauteed in it's own roe with fresh shitake and enoki mushrooms, sweet peas and onions. The shitake mushrooms (冬菇) means "wishes fulfilled from east to west.

Chinese New Year Dinner - Lobster

wasabi soyaSashimi Geoduck: Continuing with the Chinese New Year FEAST we bought two large fresh geoduck to serve raw with a dipping sauce of soya and wasabi. Geoduck is very expensive in a restaurant and it is understandable since the supermarket listed it at $24.99/lb.

Chinese New Year Dinner - Sashimi Geoduck

Chinese New Year Dinner - Steamed ClamsSteamed Clams: Lastly we had some steamed clams to round out the meal. There is no meaning behind the clam dish, we just love seafood.

On the first day of Chinese New Year, we traditionally eat "Buddha's delight" a vegetarian dish with faux meat, baby corn, mushrooms, "fat choy", napa cabbage and various other vegetables. The coming week includes the "Candy box", Nian gao, a rice flour cake (年糕), abalone, Sesame dumplings (湯圓) and hopefully more red envelopes.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!


* I learned about the symbols, meanings and tradition of Chinese New Year growing up (not from fancy shcmany book learnings.) helped my mom every year as long as I can remember preparing for the new year and asking questions. I'm glad I did because I will continue the tradition with my children in the future.


Lolia S said...

That's quite a feast!

Erika said...

Ooh, the roasted pork looks divine. I hope you had a wonderful Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day, my love!! :)

Cookie said...

Thanks for all the great info! I've known a few of them from childhood (the fish and noodles) but a lot are new to me. Unfortunately we don't really celebrate Chinese New Year anymore and in our family, you no longer get Red Envelopes after you turn into an adult. :(

bananas. said...

gah! the chicken scared the crap out of me. i can't look at it!!!

happy chinese new year!

frenata9 said...

what a great blog entry bonnie! I absolutely loved it. We didn't have roast pork this year but of course we had chicken and a seafood dish (sauteed squid and greens and mushrooms). I envy the geoduck you had!! Looks so yummy! =) Great post Bonnie!

Karen (Kara H from Yelp!)

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