Traditional Festive Food: Chinese New Year

Celebrate Chinese New Year with some festive treats

Photo Credit: Mela Eckenfels

Photo Credit: Mela Eckenfels

Chinese New Year, also known as the ‘Spring Festival,’ is the longest and arguably the most important annual Chinese festival. It is a time to welcome in the New Year with fireworks and dances, whilst spending quality time with loved ones. Food has a foundational role in the celebrations, with dishes often providing good tidings for the New Year. Jau gok dumplings are a particular favourite and called yuanbao during the celebrations, as they resemble ancient Chinese gold ingots that are supposed to bring you prosperity. The following two lucky dishes are easy to make and served throughout the festive period.

Tea Stained Eggs

Enjoyed the whole year round, tea stained eggs (particularly in Northern China,) symbolise golden nuggets in the Chinese New Year feast, welcoming in prosperity for the New Year.

6 eggs
175ml soy sauce
2 star anise
2 tbsp black tea (or 2 tea bags)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorn (optional)
2 dried strips of tangerine or mandarin peel (optional)

1.Gently place the eggs in a saucepan of water, make sure they are completely submerged.
2.Bring the pot to a boil and then lower the heat and let the eggs simmer for 3 minutes.
3.Now remove the eggs with a spoon (leaving the water in the saucepan) and place them under cool running water.
4.Using the back of a teaspoon, gently tap and crack the eggshell all over. The more tapping you do, the more intricate the design will be.
5.Now return the eggs to the same pot with the boiling water and add the rest of the ingredients.
6.Bring them to a boil and then immediately turn the heat to low. Simmer for 40 minutes and cover with lid.
7.Then let the eggs steep – transfer the eggs and the spiced-tea liquid into a glass bowl or container and cover with a lid. Put them in the fridge. They are often left to steep overnight, as the longer you let them steep, the more flavoursome and deeply marbled the tea eggs will be.

Fa Gao ‘Prosperity cupcakes’

Photo Credit: Chooyutshing

Photo Credit: Chooyutshing

As these little cakes rise, the top splits into ‘petals.’ The more petals you have reflect how prosperous you will be in the New Year. The cupcakes are often dyed in bright colours.You can do this by adding food colouring.

175ml water
150g rice flour
100g brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp water

1.Combine the water and brown sugar in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Stir together until dissolved. Leave the mixture to cool until it has reached room temperature.
2.Now place the rice flour in a medium bowl and gradually add sugar, mixture while stirring.
3.In a small bowl, add the baking powder and pour the water over the top. Mix together until they have combined. Stir it into the batter.
4.Pour the batter into paper cupcake cases, filling almost to the top.
5.Put the cakes into a steamer and steam for 15 minutes in a pan of boiling water. If you don’t have a steamer, take a big pan and fill it with two inches of water. Drop in a big colander/pasta strainer. The top of the water should be a bit below the bottom of the colander. Carefully drop the cakes into the colander and put the lid on the pan. Steam for 15 minutes.

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