What to Cook for Chinese New Years

My Kitchen God altar.

Wondering what to cook for Chinese New Years? The New Year’s celebration is all about doing things to bring good luck. Everything must be new, fresh, and positive. Every thought and deed determines the outcome for the entire year. There are specific lucky foods you must cook to influence your fate for the coming year. The Chinese believe you are what you eat.

In the last week there have been a number of great articles on Chinese New Year’s traditions. The New York Times had a great piece on longevity noodles a popular dish for celebrations including a video of me stir-frying my recipe for Longevity Noodles with Chicken, Ginger and Mushrooms. The Minneapolis Star Tribune posted Yin Yang Beans from my book “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge.” The beans are stir-fried with pork which symbolizes family bounty and unity. I’m flattered to be called the “Wok Queen” in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s tribute to New Year’s. Their recipe for Stir-Fried Trinidadian Shrimp with Rum is a less traditional approach but will also ensure blessings of happiness and joy. Whatever dish you decide to cook follow Jim Romanoff ‘s advice in the Associated Press, who wrote, “This year, how about a Chinese New Year’s resolution—more stir-frying.” He includes my recipe for Crystal Shrimp, a more classic shrimp stir-fry but also sure to bring happiness.

Stir-Fried Sugar Snaps with Shiitake Mushrooms

If you’re pressed for time here’s an easy stir-fry of sugar snaps with shiitake mushrooms to give you prosperity in the coming year. Mushrooms grow quickly and are therefore symbolic of rising fortunes. As is the custom I’ve made food and rice wine offerings to officially bribe the Kitchen God in hopes that he’ll give report a positive report to the Jade Emperor—thus ensuring us a blessed year of the rabbit. Wishing everyone a very auspicious and happy Year of the Rabbit! This Thursday I’ll be a guest on the Martha Stewart Show and you can listen to me on Friday on The Leonard Lopate Show celebrating New Year’s traditions!

Stir-fried Sugar Snaps with Shiitake Mushrooms

Young sugar snaps are perfect for stir-frying because the quick cooking accentuates their natural sweetness and crisp delicacy. You can substitute the shiitake mushrooms with sliced button or cremini mushrooms.

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon chicken broth

1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry

2 teaspoons soy sauce

3 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon minced ginger

8 medium fresh shiitake, stems removed and caps quartered (4 ounces)

8 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed  (2 ½ cups)

½ teaspoon salt

1. In a small bowl combine ¼ cup of the broth, rice wine, and soy sauce.

2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of the oil and add the ginger, and stir-fry 10 seconds or until the ginger is fragrant. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry 30 seconds or until they have absorbed all the oil. Swirl the broth mixture into the wok, cover, and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute or until about only 1 tablespoon of broth remains. Swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, add the sugar snaps, sprinkle on the salt, and stir-fry 1 minute or until the sugar snaps are bright green. Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon broth into the wok, and stir-fry 30 seconds to 1 minute or until the sugar snaps are just crisp-tender. Serves 4 as a vegetable side dish.

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