Friday, February 12, 2010

Kung Hei Fat Choy

Sunday February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day this year but it is the beginning of the lunar year… or Chinese New Year. 2010 is the year of the Tiger (the third in a cycle of 12 that makes up the Chinese Zodiac). Chinese New Year is a holiday rich in mythology and folklore: from the tales of vicious attacks by a mythical beast called the Nian to the traditions associated with the kitchen god and his annual report to the Jade Emperor about every households activities. There are also certain good luck foods who’s names are homonyms for wishes in the new year. But these are not my tales or my traditions.

The closest I’ve come to Chinese New Years was a parade in the streets of San Francisc while my husband was there on business. I just glimpsed the lion dance over the heads of the crowd and heard the fire crackers pop. It wasn't much of a glance as you can tell from the picture... but it was exciting nonetheless. What I do know about Chinese New Year is that it is a time for new beginnings. You prepare for it by sweeping the bad luck out the door (in the form of spring cleaning) and then you share a meal with friends and family. And that is exactly what I plan to do this Sunday. I will share some good luck food with my family and hope for prosperity in the new lunar year. Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Spicy Vegetable Lo Mein

I love this recipe. The sesame seed oil adds a wonderful nutty flavor and aroma. For Chinese New Year make sure that the noodles are uncut (for long life)... and that you use a wide variety of mixed vegetables (for family harmony), and serve it with a side of eggrolls (for wealth in the New Year). Mix up the vegetables any way you'd like for you families tastes and needs in the new year.

8-ounces spaghetti or linguini
2 t. oil
2 t. ginger root, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2-ounces mushrooms
1 medium red bell pepper -- in short thin strips
1 medium green bell pepper, in short thin strips
2 C. cabbage, chopped
1/2 C. vegetable broth
4-ounces snow pea pods
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. vinegar
1 T. sesame oil
Optional garnishes: thinly sliced green onions, cashews, parsley or cilantro sprigs, and toasted sesame seeds.

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil in large deep skillet or wok over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, bell peppers and cabbage; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth and snow peas; simmer until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes. Add soy sauce, and vinegar. Drain noodles; add to skillet with vegetables. Add sesame oil; cook 1 minute, tossing well. Garnish and serve.

And here is a cute book you might like to share with your kids.

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