Think of the Chinese Lunar New Year like a second go-round of Thanksgiving: It's all about families and friends coming together to feast and celebrate. Here's what you need to know to throw your own Chinese New Year celebration, from hair-washing tips to recipes.
Every year, families celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year with an impressive feast called Reunion Dinner, and among the many plates on the table is abalone in a rich sauce with dried oysters, shiitakes, and an algae called black moss. Inspired by that dish, this recipe is a vegetarian take with easier-to-find ingredients, like tofu and both fresh and dried mushrooms. Even without the seafood it still delivers on the richness and flavor of the original.
Steamed whole fish may be one of the simplest of the Chinese New Year's Eve feast, but it's loaded not just with plenty of flavor, but also lots of symbolic significance. Here's how to make it, and just what it means.
Studded with Chinese sausage, Chinese bacon, and shiitake mushrooms, this steamed (and then, optionally, pan-fried) daikon-radish-based snack is a classic at both the Chinese New Year, and also on dim sum tables year-round.
Shanghai-style Lion's Head meatballs have a name that sounds intimidating, but they couldn't be easier to make. In this recipe, ground pork is mixed with mashed tofu (for tenderness), minced water chestnuts (for crunch), seared until golden, and then simmered in broth with vermicelli noodles, cabbage, and bok choi.
Chinese hot pot is one of the ultimate communal dining experiences: diners sit around a table, dipping prepared meats, seafood, and vegetables into simmering broths to quickly cook before eating. All that's required are a few key pieces of equipment and all the ingredients prepped right. Here's how to host a hot pot feast at home.
There's something very comforting and satisfying about a meal served and cooked in one pot. One of my favorite one-pot meals is clay pot rice. For this version, I wanted to use an ingredient that's not normally seen in clay pot rice: spicy Italian sausage. Combined with slivers of chicken, marinated dried mushrooms, and a sweet and savory sauce, this speaks comfort to me.
Congee is nothing more than a simple rice porridge, but man can it be comforting! It's an Asian breakfast staple, a dim sum classic, and a blank canvas to add your own flavors. Traditionally white rice is used, but sometimes I like to use brown rice for a heartier, healthier porridge with a subtle nutty flavor. Heartier vegetables such as kale, escarole, shiitakes, leeks, and even Brussels sprouts are perfect in it. One of my favorite combos is this recipe: marinated strips of beef, dried shiitake mushrooms, and garlic chips.
When hitting up the closest dim sum restaurant feels about as easy as traveling to China, creating a downscale experience at home is the answer, and the Dim Sum Classics we've been writing about all week are a great place to start. Your complete menu, after the jump!
Smooth and a little sweet with a mild soybean flavor, fresh bean curd skin is a delicacy. At dim sum houses, it's often stuffed with a mixture of ground pork with mushrooms and ginger, then bathed in a mild yet rich chicken stock-based sauce. While it's typically a breakfast item, these rolls also make a good dinner dish when served with rice alongside.
With bright pink chunks of plump shrimp veiled in thin, stretchy, translucent dough, har gow—crystal-skinned shrimp dumplings—may well be the most popular dim sum classic of all. You may think there's a lot of difficult technique involved in getting those shrimp so plump and the skins so delicate, but it's really much easier than it seems.
Braised chicken feet are a dim sum classic that don't get much love in this country. So why learn to cook them? Provided you can get over the mental hurdle, they're actually one of the most flavor-packed dim sum dishes around. Give them a shot and you may well find yourself fighting for that last claw so that you can suck every flavorful bit of skin and cartilage from between the tiny bones.
A staple for breakfast and lunch in many Asian countries, and a mainstay at the dim sum hall, congee is rice and water (or broth) cooked down into a thick porridge. After much trial and error, I've arrived at the ideal recipe for a congee that's silky and comforting while not being sludgy or overly heavy.
Fluffy and sweet, lotus seed buns are a popular treat at Chinese bakeries. As the name implies, they're flavored with a paste made from lotus flower seeds, which have a light, chestnut-like flavor. This recipe for homemade buns has been perfected to work with either low-gluten flour, or all-purpose. Hot from the steamer, they're a confection not to be missed. The only thing that could make them either better is a cup of bubble tea.
This no-bake dessert flavored with black sesame seeds and honey is a perfect, elegant warm-weather dessert. Its texture is similar to panna cotta, except that it's slightly less jiggly and a little bit more creamy.
This quick and simple stir-fry features cod that's been water-velveted—an easy technique that guarantees tender, silky meat. Light, delicate and full of gently cooked vegetables, it's a perfect dish in a multi-course meat-heavy menu.
This quick and simple stir-fry features both fresh and dried mushrooms for maximum flavor and texture, and chicken that's been water-velveted—an easy technique that guarantees tender, silky meat.
This easy stir-fry of pork with vegetables and sweet-and-sour sauce uses a great, hassle-free water-velveting technique for tender, silky strips of meat.
Velveting meat is a common practice in Chinese stir-fries: By marinating strips of meat with egg white and cornstarch, then dipping then in a hot oil bath before finally stir-frying them, the meat develops a texture that is tender, silky, and smooth. But the hot oil bath is cumbersome for home cooks. Here's how to do it with water instead at home, with just-as-good results.
This dish, from the Hakka Chinese community, is an offal lover's dream: snappy omasum (bible) tripe stir-fried with tart mustard greens, fermented black beans, and red chilies.
This quick-to-cook stir-fry of eggs with shrimp, Chinese chives, garlic, and ginger is popular among Cantonese home cooks for both its ease and wonderful flavor. It's a good example of the mild aromatic flavor base common to Cantonese cooking, here with Chinese chives in place of the more common scallions.
Does China have an aromatic-vegetable equivalent to French mirepoix? Not exactly, but there are some general categories that are helpful in understanding how Chinese flavor bases work. In the second part of this series, we take a closer look at one of them: The more mild ginger, garlic, and scallion flavor base of Guangdong province's famed Cantonese cooking.
Does China have an aromatic-vegetable equivalent to French mirepoix? Not exactly, but there are some general categories that are helpful in understanding how Chinese flavor bases work. Here, we take a closer look at one of them: Spicy aromatics with garlic and chilies that are famous in Hunan and Sichuan cooking.
In this series on the most common aromatic flavor bases of Chinese cooking, we're looking first at those regions famous for their spicy garlic-and-chili flavors. Today, Kung Pao made with fish instead of chicken serves as an example of Sichuan's mouth-numbing, hot mala style, characterized by dried chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, and garlic.
In this first installment of our series on the most common aromatic flavor bases of Chinese cooking, we look at the famously fiery heat of Hunanese food through the lens of this classic and simple dish of hand-torn cabbage stir-fried with garlic, scallions, and fresh red chilies.
Glazed carrots are a classic holiday side dish and an easy stove-top preparation, but I like to mix it up a bit with some Asian flavors. For this recipe, I combine a medley of sweet root vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, and red beets. Instead of a traditional butter and sugar glaze, they're finished in a mixture of soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil, with a touch of ginger and lemon juice for flavoring.
Sautéing a stalk or two of celery, plus a few slices of Chinese sausage, a little bit of chili pepper and lots of garlic, is my go-to dish to cook when I don't know what I want to eat. It is quick to make, economical, and perfect with a bowl of rice. This is a twist on my go-to dish, which combines celery with celery root, fennel, Chinese sausage, and tons of garlic. Thai-style nam prik pao—a roasted chili jam—adds heat and a savory, roasted aroma.
If you've ever had bibimbap, the red sauce on the side is mainly comprised of gochujang, a fermented Korean chili paste. It's a great ingredient for marinades that need a little heat or in stir-fried dishes. Today, I'm using it in a salad dressing for a light salad of greens, vegetables, and chicken poached in sake.
Soy sauce and butter is one of my favorite flavor combinations and when the weather gets colder, I like to combine it with one of my favorite squashes: sweet and intense kabocha. When roasted, the flavors all intensify and the texture becomes creamy and satisfying.
Everybody's heard of Kale Caesar Salads by now, right? In this recipe, I take that same concept and switch out the flavors for a creamy sesame and soy-based dressing made with creamy tahini, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and black pepper. I also added some turnip greens and arugula to the salad mix to make things a bit more interesting.