As with most cultural celebrations, food is the centerpiece of the Chinese New Year. Just about everything that is eaten on the Chinese New Year has a symbolic meaning. For example, long noodles are eaten to ensure a long, healthy life, and a whole chicken is cooked to symbolize family togetherness.
Other foods are eaten because they sound like good fortune words; for example tangerines and oranges are eaten because their Chinese names sound like gold and wealth. But one of the most popular foods served on Chinese New Year is a sticky rice pudding, which symbolizes prosperity, family, and a sweet life.
As for drinks, an Asian-inspired cocktail with ginger or oranges is a perfect pairing. Chinese beer is also a great selection, or you can simply sip green tea.
Although you don't have to eat everything that is included in the traditional multi-course Chinese New Year feast, enjoying a few special dishes will ensure a prosperous and happy year ahead.
Makes 4 servings
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (2-1/2- to 3-pound) chicken, trimmed, washed inside and out
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Warm 1-1/2 cups water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce in a saucepot over medium heat, stirring to combine.
3. Mix in orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and red pepper. Bring sauce to a boil and cook for 15 minutes or until thickened.
4. Season outside of chicken with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken on a roasting pan and spoon sauce over chicken, reserving about 3/4 cup for later. Roast chicken for 1 to 1-3/4 hours or until cooked through.
5. Meanwhile, heat sauce again in a skillet and mix in 2 tablespoons water and cornstarch. Bring sauce to a boil and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened.
6. Remove chicken from oven and carve. Spoon sauce over chicken when ready to serve.
Makes 4 servings
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cups water
3-1/4 cups rice flour
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup raisins, softened in water
Nonstick cooking spray
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1. Prepare and heat a wok for steaming.
2. Combine boiling water with brown sugar, stirring well to dissolve sugar.
3. Place rice flour in a large bowl and stir in the sugar mixture then the egg and the milk, to form a dough. Continue adding water until a smooth dough is formed.
4. Gradually mix the raisins into the dough, saving some for the top of the cake.
5. Coat a 7-inch round pan with cooking spray and pour the dough into it. Sprinkle remaining raisins and sesame seeds on top.
5. Place pan into wok and steam for 45 to 50 minutes or until firm. Take pan out of wok and let cool before serving.
Makes 1 serving
1 teaspoon minced candied ginger
1-1/2 ounces rum
1/4 ounce lime juice
1/4 ounce orange juice
3 ounces ginger ale
1. Place ginger in the bottom of a cocktail glass.
2. Combine rum with lime and orange juice in a cocktail shaker with ice.
3. Shake well and strain into prepared glass. Top with ginger ale.
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