While we don't need a holiday to enjoy our favourite Chinese-inspired dishes, we can't wait to join in the celebrations with these delicious recipes.
The Year of the Rooster begins on Saturday, January 28, and lasts until February 15, 2018. This holiday is also called the Lunar New Year, and is celebrated not only in China, but across Asia and around the world in countries like Canada, where Chinese Canadians number more than a million — one of the most common ethnic origins in our multicultural mix.
There are a number of traditional dishes served during the celebration that are meant to be auspicious. Noodle dishes are especially important, as long noodles are a symbol of longevity. Dishes that cook a whole animal (such as a fish) signify the beginning and ending of the year, and the head and tail are usually displayed intact on the serving dish. Dumplings can signify prosperity, and oranges, representing luck and wealth, are a great way to round out a meal.
Here are some of our favourite traditional and reinvented recipes that we'll be cooking up this year to join in the festivities. Gung Hei Fat Choi!
Traditionally served during the holidays and Chinese New Year, these crumbly melt-in-your-mouth cookies have three layers of almond flavour. Ground almonds add a hint of crunch, almond extract lends a sweet aroma and whole almonds make for a pretty garnish.
This Chinese classic gets a wholesome makeover by replacing the meat with loads of fresh vegetables. Korean hot pepper paste isn't traditionally found in ma po tofu, but it adds a nice kick. Look for it in the Asian section of your grocery store, or substitute with one teaspoon of sriracha.
“This is my take on a wintertime favourite that's served in my childhood home,” says Food specialist Irene Fong. “My dad loves this braised beef with noodles, but it's just as good served over rice.” We've used brisket here because it's unbelievably tender when braised.
The thick meat sauce on these noodles is a bit like an Asian-style Bolognese. The cooked noodles tend to stick together if they stand for a while, so mix the sauce into them and eat right away for the best texture. For a twist, serve the sauce over rice with a side of steamed bok choy.
This tofu is so delicious and simple, you'll look for any excuse to make it. Serve as an appetizer or as a meatless main, either with a side of rice or stuffed inside a steamed Asian bun.