Do you know what’s better than an amazing New Year’s celebration? Getting to do it again a few weeks later. Now, sadly, I’m not talking about time travel, but rather the swiftly approaching Chinese New Year.
Although the Chinese New Year is not an official public holiday in Canada (hey, why the heck isn’t it?), there’s no reason why you can’t plan some celebrations and ring in the Year of the Snake on February 10th with family and friends.
Here are my 8 tips (some traditional, some not so much) to help make your Chinese New Year celebrations an extra memorable event this year!
1) It’s not a real party without some pot stickers.
Duck Pot Stickers with Plum Sauce
If you’ve never tried making these pan-fried dumplings before, rest assured that these tasty little guys are a breeze to whip up! Dumpling wrappers can be found at most grocery stores (and definitely all Asian specialty markets).
2) Create your own fortune.
Everyone loves cracking open a fortune cookie after a delicious Chinese dinner, so why not make your own customized fortunes for your Chinese New Year celebration? Dr. Suess quotes are always a hit (I would hope so anyway). Check out this recipe from Michael Smith and learn to make them at home.
3) Don’t forget about the cocktails.
Big Mango Cocktail
Nowadays, a quality cocktail is just as important as the food at any gathering. I’m not saying you should hire a bartender, but at least stock up on ginger beer, lychee juice, coconut water and mango before people come over, so you can give standard drinks like a gin and soda an exotic twist.
4) Sticky Rice is a blank canvas for deliciousness.
Dim Sum: Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf
Fine on its own, with a splash of soy sauce, or mixed with a handful of Asian spices, sticky rice can be quite the chameleon when it comes to flavour. Grab some lotus leaves at your local Asian supermarket and make these sticky rice wraps by Christine Cushing to impress your guests at your New Year’s celebration next week.
5) Roast a whole chicken.
This probably doesn’t seem like the first thing you’d associate with Chinese New Year’s celebrations, but many everyday ingredients, like chicken, have symbolic meaning in Chinese culture. The serving of a whole chicken can represent a year of ‘unity’ and ‘coming together’ and (lucky for you) it’s an easy dish to cook up.
6) Keeping it fresh with fusion.
Steamed Pork Belly Buns with a Hoisin Balsamic
Everyone can probably agree that tradition needs a little shaking up every now and again. Take a page out of Bitchin’ Kitchen host, Nadia G’s cookbook and serve up some Steamed Pork Belly ‘Sliders’ with Hoisin Balsamic Reduction. Traditional? Nope. Delicious? You bet!
7) No noodles? No fun.
Rib-Eye Stir-Fry, Dan Dan Noodles, Chilled Hibiscus
Taking a point from my earlier chicken tip, noodles represent ‘longevity’ to the Chinese, so keep a few noodle dishes long and keep them flowing. We all want to live for a long while! Now, I may be biased, but this recipe for Steak and Dan Dan Noodles by Jamie Oliver, looks pretty darn delicious! Just saying...
8) The sweet side of a Chinese New Year.
Many Chinese desserts are delicious, but complicated to make for those of us who are not avid bakers. Some sweet almond cookies will help end your ‘Year of the Snake’ get-together on a sweet note without too much stress in the kitchen.