Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chinese New Year 2015 : Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs and Other Auspicious Eats...

Chinese New Year festival is a major holiday in China and is celebrated widely across Asia, and this year it's on Feb 19th- enter the year of the Ram! In Chinese culture, there is a full schedule of food rituals that can begin a week before New year's day and lasts 16 days, with activities symbolizing renewal both for the living and for the ancestral spirits. The New Year's Eve banquet is called Reunion Dinner, and is the most important meal of the year with families of several generations sitting around tables and enjoying the food, which is a collection of symbols and omens as well.

Goat dishes will be very popular and symbolic of good things to come. A very auspicious goat dish- San Yang Kai Tai- 'three goats bring wealth' is a very lucky dish for this Chinese New Year- a goat and radish stew, made with goat, cabbage, radish, green onion and ginger. San Yang Kai Tai used to be a New Year saying to wish good luck. The Chinese for "goat" (羊) is in a Chinese character for good luck (祥 xiáng /sshyang/). The character 泰 (tài /tigh/) means 'peace' and 'grand'.  

There is a long list of good luck foods eaten during this time. Eggs, for one are often featured prominently in many Chinese festivals as an offering to the Gods. The egg's round smooth shape symbolizes good luck and happiness and also fertility. According to Chinese myth, when the world began the universe was egg-shaped, the yolk represented the earth and the white the heavens. Then Pan-ku, separated them bearing the yin yang symbol- the bright and clear element- yang became heaven and the dark and murky yin formed the earth. 

Chinese tea eggs are a favourite with my kids, and the attractive marbling with their aromatic savoury flavour of anise, tea and soy are super comforting, not mentioning delicious. As you plan for your celebrations, try making these pretty eggs and some of my other auspicious foods to complement your simple or elaborate feast to bring in the new year.

Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs

12 eggs, room temperature

3 cups water
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. black tea leaves (I used pu-erh dark red tea)
3 star anise

1/2 tsp. five spice powder
1 (2-inch) piece cinnamon stick

In a large saucepan, hard-boil the eggs by simmering in slightly salted water to cover for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and cool. When cool, tap eggs with the back of a spoon to finely crack shells all over (do not remove shells).

In a large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, add eggs, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for one hour. Allow the eggs to cool in the liquid (the longer the seep, the more flavourful). Shell the eggs to reveal their beautiful marbled pattern and serve.

TIP: If you don’t have Chinese tea leaves, you can use black tea or regular tea bags. Eggs can steep up to 1-1/2 days for richer flavour. Store eggs unpeeled and tightly sealed in refrigerator for up to four days. 

Other auspicious foods popularly eaten on the Eve or New Year include:

Classic Spring Rolls

Spring rolls get their name because they are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival. The lucky saying is: 'A ton of gold' (because fried spring rolls look like gold bars) — a wish for prosperity.

My recipe uses pork, cabbage, carrots, bamboo shoots and shiitake but is versatile to make completely vegetarian.

Pan-fried Dumplings

Jiao Zi are commonly eaten for breakfast on New Year's Day. Chinese dumplings can be made to look like Chinese silver ingots (which are boat-shaped, oval, and turned up at the two ends) that are steamed, boiled or pan-fried. Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year feasts, the more money you can make that year. Dumplings should be made with many pleats to signify sealing in the good fortune.

Sticky rice- whether sweet or savoury is also a favoured food which symbolizes family sticking together. The pronunciation and round shape of popular tangyuan (sweet sticky rice dumplings) are associated with reunion and being together. Here are some of my savoury sticky rice recipes:

Sticky Chinese Rice

Kate's Pearly Meat Balls

Tomorrow I will be steaming whole fish which symbolizes abundance and a perfect dish particular on New Year's Eve for the start of the new year.

1 comment:

  1. this article, it was really informative yammy and testy your receipe, I’ll be looking forward for your next Kathi roll online order