Celebrate Chinese New Year 2023. The date of Chinese New Year is determined by the moon. It can fall anywhere between January 21st and February 20th. In China, it is the beginning of the Spring Festival. Formally celebrating the end of Winter and the start of the lunar new year. Red is the predominant colour symbolising luck, joy and happiness. You will find houses, banks, offices, and streets are hung with red lanterns and decorated with red banners. In parks and squares, there are dragon dances, fairs, and firework displays.
At home, the Chinese often decorate their houses. There are elaborate Chinese knots, paper decorations, and kumquats and mandarin oranges that are symbols of wealth and prosperity. Greeting cards are sent to friends and relatives. These are especially the case if they are unable to visit over the festival. Older Chinese people prepare lucky red envelopes of cash to give to children. You can find snacks of candied peanuts, toasted seeds and popped rice. Finally there is lots of symbolic food served at family reunion dinners
There can be sticky rice cakes to promote wealth, rice balls for family togetherness, and longevity noodles symbolising long life. Platters of oranges and tangerines are believed to bring good luck. This is because of their ‘golden’ colour. The Chinese for orange even sounds the same as the Chinese for success. You can pick whatever dishes you enjoy for your Chinese feast. I have included some links for some of my personal favourites. For both Cantonese style recipes as well as Lunar New Year dishes.
Make your own Chinese New Year Feast
Spring rolls were first made in China, a rolled pancake filled with the first of the fresh Spring vegetables. They are served for the Spring Festival. A Cantonese speciality, they are now made from a number of ingredients. This can include cabbage, sometimes meat, wrapped in a thin pastry.
The most famous ‘Red cooking’ recipe is Shanghai Red-braised Pork Belly. ‘Hong Shao Rou’ isreputed to be the favourite of Chairman Mao Tse-tung. So much so he supposedly he ate it every day. In China belly pork is a highly valued cut of meat. The perfect order of fat, meat, fat and meat under the skin is known as the ‘Five layers of Heaven’.
Today’s recipe may raise a few eyebrows! Ketchup and Worcestershire sauce in a Chinese recipe have I gone crazy? And is it shrimp or prawns? Well, the name really does just depend on where you come from. Shrimp and prawn is pretty interchangeable. As to the ketchup trust me this is one of the simplest and tastiest ways, I know of serving prawns. It is a hugely popular dish in Hong Kong.
In China lamb or mutton is eaten mostly in the north and north west. It is especially favoured by the Muslim and Mongol populations but it is available everywhere. The most popular street food in China are Xinjiang lamb skewers. Made with fiery and fragrant with chilli and Szechuan peppercorns, you can find them in every major city throughout China. Chinese recipes mostly call for mutton or goat rather than lamb because traditionally lamb was scarce.
Beef in Black Bean Sauce 豉汁牛肉 . So you may have guessed I love Chinese food. When I lived in Alderney flying to the mainland was difficult as I wanted to try every new restaurant. But I always hankered for a fantastic Chinese extravaganza, a rather greedy Chinese feast I am afraid. So I learnt to hone my own Chinese culinary skills.
Authentic Cantonese Pork (sweet and sour pork ). When you have a take away from your local Chinese Restaurant you will most likely be eating Cantonese style cuisine. The recipes are often copies of authentic Cantonese dishes adapted for Western tastes. This is a huge shame as Cantonese is revered in China. It is considered as one of the most celebrated national styles of cooking.
Chinese Baked Whole Fish with Ginger and Spring Onions. You traditionally serve whole steamed or baked fish at the end of the Chinese New Year Feast. It symbolises an increase in prosperity. In Chinese dialect fish 鱼 Yú, sounds like the word for surplus. It is believed in China if you can save something at the end of the old year, you will make more in the next. 年年有余 Niánnián yǒu yú May you always have more than you need!