Today is Chinese New Year’s (CNY) Eve (or also known as the Spring Festival, marking the first day of Spring on the Lunar Calendar) and like most Chinese/Asian families, we’ll be spending the night at home, enjoying a wonderful home cooked meal while watching Chinese singing and dancing on TV. We have satellite TV at home which makes such festivals more enjoyable and authentic, although the 3 hours time difference does pose a problem for our sleep patterns.
For those of you who don’t celebrate this ‘New Year’, it’s really the same as the western New Year that just passed, except the Chinese or Lunar Calendar runs on a different date system. I.e. it’s based off cycles of the moon circling the Earth or also known as moon phase.
This means that each Lunar month is a few days different to the Western calendar. The older generations (such as my grandma, some aunties and uncles) still celebrate their birthdays and anniversaries according to the Lunar calendar, making my life difficult as the dates are seemingly different every year. The CNY dates are also different every year, this year falling on 23rd January, which is very early (it’s usually in February).
It’s a tradition in Asian countries that celebrate this festival to give ‘red packets’ (hong bao in Mandarin, lai see in Cantonese, ang pao in Hokkien, sae bae dong in Korean and li xi in Vietnamese) which contain money as a gesture of good luck and wealth in the coming year and is only given to unmarried persons. However, as my family’s been in Australia for quite a number of years now, we’ve partly lost that tradition. Although we get together with family and ‘celebrate’ with good food and good company, we no longer give or receive red packets.
I wrote last year during CNY that fireworks are lit all across China during the New Year’s count down. Festive decorations can be seen everywhere you go. I’m a bit sad that I don’t get to spend CNY in Shanghai this year, but spending it here with family is another sort of joy.
I really don’t mind whether I get red packets or even having fireworks, as long as I get to eat good food. The recipe below is not a traditional CNY dish, nor are we having it tonight but it’s undoubtedly Chinese and very delicious and easy to make. We made this dish for the Ipad App that we’re making (a recipe related app) but the photos didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. We are still in the process of getting the app done but it’s taking forever. I will post up details when it’s closer to completion.
Four Season Beans
Time to prepare: 10 minutes
Time to cook: 10 minutes
A popular Szechuan dish with beans stir fried with spicy seasoned pork.
Note: this recipe results in a rather spicy dish, reduce the amount of dried chilli used for a milder version.
• 200g beans
• 100g pork mince
• 2 tbsp cooking oil
• 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
• 1 tbsp light soy sauce
• 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
• 1 tsp sugar
• 20g ginger
• 2 spring onion
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 fresh red chilli
• 7 dried red chilli
1. Cut beans into approx. 6cm segments. Finely chop garlic, ginger, spring onion and dried chilli. Thinly slice fresh chilli.
2. Heat oil at medium high heat and fry garlic, ginger, spring onion and dried chilli for 1 min.
3. Add pork mince and fry for 3 min, breaking mince up into small pieces.
4. Add beans, rice wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar and stir to combine.
5. Increase heat to high. Add in a splash of water and cover, cooking for 6 min.*
6. Remove from heat and serve immediately with fresh chilli.
* Shake pan every minute or so (without removing the lid) to ensure nothing sticks to pan.
Happy Chinese New Year everyone!
Wishing you all a healthy, prosperous and lucky year ahead and of course, with plenty of good food as well!
Question time: Do you celebrate Chinese New Year? If so, what’s something special or traditional that you and your family will always do (or eat) during this festive period?