As we ring in the Chinese New Year, however late, food is often the best way to celebrate and reset your luck, according to Chinese beliefs. You have many options to celebrate the passing of January 28, also known as the turn of the lunar calendar.
Many of us may turn to frozen dishes or restaurants, as home-made Chinese foods can be pricey and time-consuming to make. The cost of sesame oil alone, popular for preparing equally pricey Udon noodles, could make you hesitant. However, if you know what you’re doing, you could whip up some nearly restaurant-level dishes which are both delicious and good for you.
Popular meat elements for Chinese foods are chicken, beef, and pork, which when prepared correctly, can deliver the best flavor. You need to remember to marinate each of these meats ahead of time so that when they hit your taste buds, you know what victory tastes like.
An excellent mainstay in Chinese vegetables is Bok Choy. Taking on the culinary qualities of lettuce and celery alike, it’s used in many dishes prepared in the Oriental East. Water chestnuts are also common among Chinese recipes, known for their soft texture, absorbing condiments like soy and oyster sauce, a combination which really brings out that authentic flavor. It’s best to buy water chestnuts whole and slice them yourself, as it costs less when you hold the knife.
Noodles vary from your average ramen to Udon, the latter of which can put a dent in your wallet depending on whether you make it yourself (flour and water), or buy it frozen or on the dry shelf. For ramen, it’s suggested that you buy the cheap envelope version, and keep the seasoning and vegetable packets for another time.
Various dishes are said to produce specific benefits, according to Bon Appetit. Dumplings are said to induce prosperity and wealth and could put your pastry skills to the test. They usually contain chicken or pork and cabbage, wrapped up in a pastry shell which resembles an ingot, an ancient currency. Prepared correctly and topped with caviar, they are also said to invite wealth, which might help you recover from buying the fresh caviar.
Oranges and kumquats are said to represent fullness and wealth and are probably among the cheapest items you can buy to celebrate the Chinese New Year with food. They will probably cost you less than $2 at your local grocery store.
Whole fish, served with the head and tail intact, is said to represent a successful end and a fresh beginning.
Fortune Tale Salad, made with roasted chicken, jellyfish, cucumber, ginger, green apple, mango, and daikon radish among its ten ingredients, represents the Zodiac Rooster. It is said that the higher it’s tossed, the better off you will be.
Red drinks are said to be a must for inducing wealth and luck, though if you’re under 21, you should consider juice or soda pop instead of the usual red wine or hard liquors.
If you don’t want to prepare your own Chinese food, a number of popular restaurant chains could be a good alternative. Just remember that you’re paying someone else to prepare it, so a buffet might be the best style. Panda Express is one such chain, offering fast food with an all-you-can-eat menu and a helpful and courteous staff, plus a red envelope deal with a free 22-ounce Dr. Pepper on your next visit. Delish suggests a visit as soon as possible, as many Chinese restaurants are offering a special menu to mark the occasion.
Of course, if you’re the type who prefers to simply buy your meals frozen and use the microwave, Marie Callender’s and Tai Fei are known for their quality packaged meals. Wei Chuan also offers several skillet-friendly options such as dumplings and wontons.
Happy Chinese New Year. How will you celebrate the Year of the Rooster?
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