Gung Hay Fat Choy – Happy Chinese New Year!
For many Chinese families around the world, Tuesday February 5th is a significant day. Usually falling on the first new moon of the year, the celebration of Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is a most spectacular tradition. But, don’t let winter fool you, the name Spring Festival is a celebration of the end of winter as we look to the change in seasons.
Preparations often begin several days beforehand. It’s tradition to sweep and dust the previous year away and decorate the walls and doors with red and gold (for prosperity and happiness), and of course place oranges and kumquats on the table represent good luck!
On The Table
You just can’t celebrate a Spring Festival without spring rolls or dumplings, which we love to dip in the umami rich, Lahtt sauce.
Longevity noodles are a holiday favorite and can be made with any type of long thin noodle. The challenge is to eat each noodle with one big slurp and as little chewing as possible. These long noodles signify long life, and as the superstition goes, any chomping may cut life short!
This feast isn’t complete without the main entree at the center of all Chinese celebrations but especially during Chinese New Year – steamed fish. Truly quick and simple to prepare, this dish is also timeless and comforting. Stop by the butcher counter to see what’s in season and follow this simple recipe 🙂
1 whole White fish (Like Sea Bass, Tilapia or Red Snapper)
3 stalks of Scallion, green and white parts separated
6 slices Ginger, half to place on top of fish to steam and half Julienned
3 tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine, or Mirin.
2 tsp Maldon Sea Salt
1/3 cup Chopped Cilantro
3 tbsp Red Boat Fish Sauce (optional)
3 tbsp Cooking Oil (optional)
1 thin slice Ginger (optional)
Onto the cooking
1. Make sure your fish is gutted, descaled and patted dry. Make 3-4 cuts on each side of the fish. Rub the fish with cooking wine and then salt. Let it sit for about half hour to a full hour.
2. Chop up or mash the green parts of the scallion, which becomes the bed for the fish. Julienne the white parts and mix with the julienned ginger and cilantro and set aside.
3. Place the fish on top of the scallion bed and insert the ginger slices to the cuts.
4. Place the fish into your choice of steamer, typically a wok with several inches of water and a bowl or rack to elevate the plate is sufficient if you don’t have a steamer.
5. Cover with a lid and steam for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit, covered for another 3 minutes. Check if meat inside the slits are done – meat should be opaque down to the bone, but the bone will be translucent.
6. Remove the fish from the steamer and drain the excess water, then remove the ginger slices and scallions.
7. Top with the julienned ginger, scallions and cilantro.
Optional: Flash Fry
Heat up 3 tablespoons cooking oil in a pan and add the slice of ginger to it. When the ginger begins to sizzle, remove from heat and pour it over the fish.
Serve with Red Boat Fish sauce, pour on top or on the side for dipping.