10 Feb Ring in the Year of the Tiger
By SYDNE GEORGE For the Tribune
Gung Hay Fat Choy to you and yours, or in English, best wishes and congratulations. Have a prosperous and good year.
The Chinese New Year is upon us, beginning the first day of the first month on the Chinese calendar and ending on the 15th day with the traditional lantern festival. This year, Chinese New Year is celebrated on Feb. 14, which is just enough time to invite some friends over and throw a dinner party.
While customs vary by region in China, typically Chinese New Year’s celebrants splurge and purchase presents, decorations, special food and clothing in honor of the occasion. Every family would thoroughly clean their home, clearing away any ill will and making room for good luck in the year to come.
Throughout China, windows and doorways would be adorned with red paper cutouts to celebrate the coming new year, reflecting themes of happiness, wealth and longevity.
Many Chinese families would host a feast on the eve of Chinese New Year, serving pigs, ducks, chickens and sweet delicacies to guests. The custom of ending with loud firecrackers comes from the original practice of filling bamboo stems with gunpowder and lighting them off to ward off evil spirits in the coming year.
Early the next morning, young Chinese children typically awaken their parents, extending wishes for a healthy and happy new year, and in turn are given money in small red paper envelopes.
Typically, foods served at the Festival of the Lanterns feast might include:
A whole steamed fish, representing togetherness and abundance in the new year
Lettuce (lettuce wraps or stir-fried lettuce) for growing fortune
Noodles, symbolizing long life
Shrimp, indicating happiness
Oysters, signifying good business
Clams, typifying an opening of new horizons Ring in the Year of the Tiger
Chinese New Year: Celebrate with Moo Shu Pork
Ring in the Year of the Tiger by offering your guests a traditional Tray of Togetherness, showcasing eight (considered to be the luckiest number) special treats such as candy, dried fruits and nuts arranged attractively on a platter.
For dinner, serve Moo Shu Pork in Phyllo with Hoisin Sauce, an easy entree you can make ahead and bake at the last minute.
End the festive meal with your favorite fruit sorbet, fortune cookies and firecrackers, fending off bad luck in the year to come.
MOO SHU PORK IN PHYLLO WITH HOISIN SAUCE
1 pound boneless pork loin chops, cut in thin bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp. sesame oil, divided
2 eggs, beaten with a fork
1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tbsp. green onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 cups cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded cabbage mix
1 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 8-ounce pack phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions
¼ cup butter, melted
1 8-ounce jar prepared hoisin sauce (Asian food aisle)
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a large stir-fry pan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil over medium high heat. Add pork and stir fry until cooked through. Remove cooked pork and drain on paper towels.
Wipe out pan. Add additional 1 tablespoon
Transfer stir-fried filling to medium mixing bowl and add cabbage, rice vinegar and soy sauce. Stir to combine.
Unroll one package of phyllo dough and cut into three equal stacks, each about 3 inches by 12 inches.
Brush melted butter over top layer of phyllo.
Position 3 tablespoons filling on bottom corner of one stack of phyllo, pick up the three sheets under the filling and fold bottom corner upward over the filling to the opposite edge, making a triangle (like you would fold a flag). Continue folding the triangle back and forth across the strip of phyllo until you have reached the top of the phyllo stack.
Brush filled phyllo triangle with melted butter to seal edges and place on parchmentlined baking sheet.
Repeat to fill and fold, using up filling.
Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until phyllo is evenly browned and filling is hot.
Serve with small dipping bowls of hoisin sauce.