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Monday, January 31, 2011

Festivities of Food - Chinese New Year

It is almost Chinese New Year again. This year it falls on February 3rd. It is going to be the year of the Rabbit. As traditional as my family is, I feel that these traditions have been slipping away from me slowly year after year. I used to spend my Chinese New Years in Taipei, and the festivities ran from street stalls selling Chinese New Year specialty food to department stores decorating their ceilings and walls with splashes of red and gold. It was hard not to be a part of the traditions and celebrations. Today, it is still a holiday I treasure because it is one of the few times people look back and remember the rich 5,000 years+ of Chinese history and culture.

I have my own way of a Chinese New Year pre-party and that involves, of course, making a lot of Chinese food.

Oxtail Steak and Tricolor Eggs
I started with my spin on steak and eggs. I made an oxtail stew as steak and served it with tricolor eggs made with pickled eggs, duck eggs, and chicken eggs. Duck eggs, like many other food, represent good luck because of its pronunciation which resembles other words that mean good fortune and good luck. 

Whole Wheat Pasta Sheets
Fresh Tagliatelle

We made whole wheat tagliatelle from scratch. Not Chinese, I know. But having noodles is important because the long strands represent longevity. We stir-fried the noodles with Taiwanese sausage and garlic, adding some oyster sauce and sugar in the mixture. It was fresh and delicious.

Sweet Sesame Rolls

Using the fresh pasta dough, I made some sweet sesame paste and rolled it up for a sweet pastry. Sweets bring a sweetness to life and that is one tradition I cannot pass up!

Traditional Chinese Pastry
Sweet Mung Bean Filling

Mung beans, not eaten as often in the Western culture, have many health benefits. One of which is a cooling factor to your body to balance the yin and the yang. That is why many drink sweet mung bean soup in the summertime. Mung bean can also be made into a sweet paste and used as a filling in pretty much anything. I made a traditional mung bean pastry with layers of flaky pastry wraps and a sweetened mung bean paste in the center. Chinese tend to like enjoying food that is either long (noodles) for longevity or circular (pastries like this one) to represent family unity.

That concludes my chinese cook-off over the weekend for fortune and for everything good in life. Eat a lot and you will bring all the luck to you and your family!


  1. i love using sweet mungbeans in pastries! can you post a recipe for your sweet pastries? i would love to try it!

  2. I'd love a recipe for that mung bean pastry. Looks so yummy, as do the rest of your courses.

  3. Of course! Here is the Mung Bean Pastry recipe:
    (Makes 10)
    *You want to start preparing the mung beans the night before since it requires soaking.

    1. Outer Pastry Layer: In a bowl, mix 150g of all-purpose flour, 30g of pork oil (oil from frying bacon)or olive oil for the healthier version, 1 tbsp of sugar, and 1/4 cup of water. Knead until well incorporated and let it rest for 30 minutes.
    2. Inner Pastry Layer: In another bowl, mix 100g of cake flour with 35g of oil. Do not knead - simply roll it into a ball.
    3. Mung Bean Filling: Soak 1 cup of mung beans in water overnight. Boil soaked mung beans in a pot of water (make sure the water level only covers the mung beans by a little) until mung beans are split and soft. Add 2 tbsp of sugar (or to taste) and 1/2 tbsp of oil and blend the mixture in a food processor until almost smooth. Refrigerate.
    4. Separate both outer and inner pastry dough into 10 small balls.
    5. Use a rolling pin and flatten outer layer dough to a very thin circular wrap.
    6. Place an inner dough on top of the flattened outer layer dough and use a rolling pin to flatten both layers together(this will mix the two layers together to become one pastry shell).
    7. Take 1 tbsp of filling and place it in center of the dough. Wrap the dough around the filling and seal. Place a few sesame seeds on top of the pastry and bake at 325F for 25 minutes. Ready to serve.

    Have fun!

  4. So, I'm part German and part Slovak, but I can still celebrate, too, right? Because if celebrating the Chinese New Year involves eating stuff like this, I am so totally in.

  5. Yum! I'm so craving one of those mung bean pastries, now. Back home in SF, I'd go to dim sum quite often with the family and we'd always have these. Gosh, they're good!

  6. Happy Chinese New Year!! The food on your table looks incredible!

  7. Happy Chinese New Year! What a wonderful feast here! Loving the sweet sesame rolls and the the mung bean filling in the pastries!

    What a superb collection of food items. I just saw you posted the mung bean pastry recipe... Thanks :)

  9. Your posts just keep getting better. This is probably one of the tastiest Chinese food spreads I have ever seen. The Mung Bean Pastry looks amazing and I like how you captured the flaky layers in the shot. I really wish I could try those handmade noodles too.

    Sorry I couldn't connect with you and Jas during your trip up. :( Hope you two had a great time! Happy CNY.