Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year!

The Chinese or Lunar New Year occurs this year on February 18th, and ushers in the Year of the Pig. The holiday lasts two weeks in China. We decided to celebrate the Lunar Festival by making dumplings, or Jiaozi, similar to the ones that I wrote about earlier. Making dumplings is a family event, it requires a fair amount of work, several hours if one person had to do it, certainly lots less if the family sits around the table, assembling the dumplings, talking and laughing and sharing the celebration, what a New Year celebration should be. What kind of dumplings to make this time? I liked the pork and cabbage one, so we chose that one again, and my sister suggested making one from carrots, she had enjoyed these in China. There's more to it than carrots, I found out, thinking that it wouldn't be that interesting, crunchy perhaps, but it's really a combination of carrots cut very fine, scrambled eggs, and ground pork.

Instead of pre-made wrappers, my brother-in-law made some dough, really just water and flour and a little bit of elbow grease. He rolled out the rounds of dough, and my sister and I assembled the large number of dumplings that we made (there was lots of filling left, so my brother-in-law made some more dumplings later in the day), but this amount was for the three of us.

Into the water went the dumplings.

Here they are finished, awaiting us to eat them.

For more flavour, to drizzle over the dumplings, we made the garlic and vinegar sauce, very garlicky but quite tasty. Press about 10 garlic cloves through a garlic press, then mince everything, and pour Chinese vinegar over the minced garlic. Let steep for 30 minutes.

Another dish my brother-in-law made involved a vegetable from the bamboo family, really like very young bamboo, not woody at all, green in colour.

He stir-fried it with some cut-up pork pieces and ginger slices. It tasted quite good, and smelled quite tasty. It is a favourite of my sister's, but I have never seen the vegetable before, and don't know the English name for it.

Later on in the day, we ate another dish that is typically made and served at the Lunar Festival. I received this gift from one lady at work, it was a nice surprise on Friday.

It is a rice cake, made from glutinous rice, and taro root, and dried shrimp, a friend of hers makes them every year, and she gave me one to try, knowing that I am interested in different Chinese foods. There are different versions of these rice cakes, most of them are sweet, I have seen ones made with red beans, or brown sugar, or different fruits. This one was savoury, not really sweet at all, but quite tasty.

Overall, a great meal, hopefully ushering in a great year. Happy Lunar New Year to all!

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