Must have recipes to follow for the Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is a festival brimming with deep rooted traditions, colours that supposedly embody good luck, and the beautiful aromas of the delicious feasts that accompany this season. Food is one of the most important traditions of Chinese New Year and with family placed at the centre of society, it’s no surprise that a great deal of emphasis is placed on the Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner or reunion dinner. The entire family must return home, and even if one is not able to, the family will leave an empty spot for them along with some cutlery. The tradition is also accompanied with a well-known legend. On this day, the monster Nian would come to terrorise the people of the village and therefore, the people would rush home, prepare food with offerings to their ancestors and gods and would pray for protection. Whether the people still believe in this legend or not, the tradition of having a reunion meal still lives on and hold a great amount of significance to this festival. Here are some traditional foods for you to try for yourselves that are often eaten on Chinese New Years:

Spring rolls:

Also known as egg rolls, spring rolls are one on the most well-known Chinese dishes. Served as appetisers, the main or starters, spring rolls can be fried, steamed or baked. They are traditionally eaten during the spring festival, particularly the first day of spring.

Ingredients:

  • 20 spring roll rollers/sheets
  • 128g chicken or beef cut up (or meat of your choice) 
  • 128g grated carrot
  • 128g shredded napa cabbage 
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • ½ tsp crushed ginger
  • 1tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 50g bean sprouts
  • 1 tbsp flour 
  • 1 tbsp water

Marinade:

  • ¼ tsp. white pepper 
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp cajun pepper 
  • 1 tsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil

Method:

  1. Prepare the marinade and marinate the chicken or the beef in the marinade for at least 2 hours.
  2. Heat up a wok with a little oil. Add the garlic and ginger and brown slightly. 
  3. Add the meat cook until completely cooked through
  4. Remove the meat form the pan and shred the meat
  5. Add the vegetables to the same wok and stir fry for 5-7 minutes. If required, you can add extra oil. 
  6. Add the chicken to the vegetables, mix and cook for a further minute.
  7. Prepare the paste by adding the water and flour together in a bowl.
  8. Assemble the spring roll. Start by facing one of the corners of the roller towards you. Place some filling not on the edge but just far enough inside so you can begin to roll. D not add too much filling. Leave around 3cm space on each side. Start rolling inwards so that you have a spring roll shape. Once you have rolled around 1/3 of your roll, fold up the two sides on either end of the filling. Use the paste to stick the sides down. Finish rolling the spring roll and seal the end with the paste.
  9. Pre-heat the oil in a pan or wok to depe fry your spring rolls. To test the oil, you can use some rollers and I it rises and floats immediately then the oil is ready.
  10. Add some spring rolls to the oil and they should float to the top. Deep fry them on each side until light brown. 
  11. Drain the sprain rolls on a paper towel and serve

Dumplings


A popular cuisine often associated with Chinese culture, Dumplings are very commonly eaten in the south of China and they are classed as the lucky food for the new year. Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat on new year’s, the more money you will make.

Ingredients:

  • 680g green leafy vegetable(Like bok choy, napa cappage)
  • 680g meat of your choice 
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 ½ sesame oil
  • Just a little more than ½ tbsp salt or salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar/mirin
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp Chinese 5 spices
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ tsp of white pepper
  • 80ml water 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 packages dumpling wrappers

Method:

  1. Wash your vegetables and chop them finely.
  2. Mix together the vegetable, meat, vinegar, oil, sesame oil, chilli powder, ginger, garlic, salt, soy sauce, white pepper, and water and eggs. Mix until very well-combined.
  3. Wrap the dumplings. Use some water to dampen the edges of each dumpling pastry. Put a just slightly less than a tbsp of filling in the middle of the dumpling. Fold the dumpling pastry in in half and pinch the dumpling pastry together at the top. Make two folds on each side, so that the dumpling looks like a fan. Ensure it is completely sealed. Fill the remaining dumplings up.
  4. To boil them, drop the dumplings in a pot of boiling water, and cook them until they float to the top and the skins are cooked through. The skin will still be slightly dented.
  5. To pan-fry them add a bit of oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add the dumplings to the pan and fry for 2 minutes. Pour a bit of water into the pan so that ther eis a thin layer and then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Steam until the water has evaporated. Remove the cover and then increase the heat to medium-high and fry until the bottoms of the dumplings are golden brown and crisp.
  6. Serve with soy sauce, chilli sauce, or a dipping sauce of your choice.

Sweet rice balls

These sweet rice balls are usually eaten during the lantern festival; however, some also eat hem throughout Chinese New Year. Their pronunciation and round shape is associated reunion, and because Chinese New Year is a time for family to reunite, these sweet rice balls are often favoured during this season.

Ingredients:

For the sesame seed mixture:

  • 100g black sesame seeds
  • 30g nuts
  • 30g unsalted butter

For the dough:

  • 4-5 tbsp boiling water
  • 200g glutinous rice flour
  • food coloring

For the syrup:

  • 1 l water
  • 4 pandan leaves 
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger

Method:

  1. Toast the sesame seeds and the nuts. 
  2. Roughly blend the toasted sesame seeds and nuts with the sugar 
  3. Mix the blended mixture with the butter until comnbined. Roll the sesame seed mixture into small balls
  4. Mix the flour and boiling water in a separate bowl to make the dough. Once it has cooled enough, knead until it is slightly sticky but pliable. Add food colouring if you wish.
  5. Roll the dough into small balls and flatten. The flattened dough should fit into the palm of your hand.
  6. Wrap the dough around the sesame seed balls. 
  7. Make the syrup by boiling the water, sugar, ginger an dpandan leaves. 
  8. Add the rice balls to the boiling syrup and cook until they float. 
  9. Serve with or without the syrup.

Why not try making these delicious recipes at home? We promise you. They won't disappoint. Happy Chinese New Year!