Three inspiring Lunar New Year dishes
Lunar New Year is around the corner and traditional comfort food is always present at every reunion dinner table. Reunion dinner happens on New Year’s Eve and is considered the most important meal of the year. Extended family members will often travel long and far just to make it in time for this dinner to reconnect with loved ones. The very first day of the New Year is also generally spent with family celebrating over various traditional dishes.
Not only is Lunar new year celebrated by the Chinese culture but is also a very special occasion of those from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Mauritius and Vietnam.
Monica is an Australian with a Vietnamese background, and Michelle is an Australian with a Chinese background. They have given us the dishes, along with their own family recipes, that remind them of Lunar New Year celebrations.
Steamed Garlic and Chilli Prawns
Prawns are a staple in Chinese New Year dishes, because the pronunciation of prawns in Cantonese - “har” - sounds like laughter (“ha-ha”). This easy, one-ingredient dish is packed full of flavour, thanks to a garlic mixture and rice wine that marinates with the prawns for a delicious reunion dinner dish.
Cooking time: 5mins
- 12 whole prawns
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper (preferably white pepper)
- 2 tbs shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tbs sesame oil
- 10 crushed garlic cloves
- 2 spring onions, sliced finely
- 1 large chilli, sliced finely
- 1 tsp fried garlic (optional)
Head to Countdown for your fresh seafood and produce.
- Butterfly the prawns by carefully running a knife through the shell along the back of each prawn and removing the intestines. Marinate them in the salt, pepper, and rice wine for at least 15 minutes.
- Combine the garlic, chilli, spring onions and soy sauce in a bowl and mix well.
- Place the prawns on a large plate and spoon the garlic mixture onto each of the prawns. Pour the rest of the marinade over the prawns.
- Steam the prawns for 5-6 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Remove the plate of prawns from the steamer, garnish with more spring onions and fried garlic and serve immediately.
Tip: if you are in need of a new serving bowl that is equally as impressive as your dish, you can't go past the range at Farmers.
Braised Pork with Boiled Eggs
This is a main dish that is prepared for Lunar New Year in the Vietnamese culture, with variations seen across Chinese, Taiwanese and Filipino cultures. The use of egg is said to represent happiness and goodness. Families come together to prepare a giant pot of braised pork with eggs.
Cooking time: 2hrs
- 1kg pork belly, cut into cubes
- 8 hard boiled eggs
- 180mL coconut soda
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 onion, sliced finely
- 1 large chilli, sliced finely
- 4 tbsp of caramel sauce
- Cut the pork into small pieces, 1.5' cubes cook faster.
- Bring 10 cups of water to the boil.
- When the water has boiled, submerge the pork for 1-2 minutes to clean it, and then rinse the pork under running water- and until the water is clear.
- Add coconut soda, soy sauce, fish sauce and salt to the pot.
- Add the pork back into the pot.
- Fill up the pot with water until the pork is just covered, and turn the heat to high.
- Let it simmer for about 1.5 to 2 hours. Ensure you check and stir the pot every 20 minutes.The longer you cook it, the softer the pork will become.
- Add the caramel sauce to the pot.
- Makeb the hard boiled eggs. Add these hard boiled eggs to a different pot, and cover with cold water. Once they have come to a boil on medium to high heat, remove from the pot and let sit for 8 minutes.
- Cool the eggs in water and then peel accordingly.
- Add the eggs to the pot of pork for the last 30- 40 minutes of cooking.
- Add the onions sliced in.
- Reduce the temperature on the dish, so the liquid is reduced.
- Serve in a bowl.
Tip: Ensure you cook this dish in an oversized pot. Stevens have a great range of kitchenware.
Sticky Rice Cake
Based on the old myth stories, at the Hung dynasty, these two cakes are made to serve the gods, expressing gratitude to the ancestors, and symbolised for ground and the sky.
Niangao is the star of the dessert spread during Lunar New Year celebrations. The word for rice cake is a homophone for the word tall or ‘to grow. So it makes perfect sense to eat this at New Year’s, as it symbolises growth whether that be in career, money, health, or even physical height!
- 1 3/4 cups sticky (glutinous) rice, preferably long-grain
- 1 drop of green food coloring (optional)
- 1/4 cup dried split mung beans
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 150 grams of pork shoulder or butt, cut into 1/4-inch-thick chunks
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 (14" x 16") sheets plastic wrap (plus extra)
- 1 (14" x 16") sheet aluminum foil
- 2 (14" x 14") pieces banana leaf
- Place the sticky rice in a large bowl and cover it with 3 inches of water. Stir in the food coloring (optional) and let the rice soak overnight. The rice will double in size.
- In a separate bowl, soak the mung beans for at least 4 hours.
- Drain both sticky rice and mung beans set aside in separate bowls. Add the salt to the rice and stir to blend.
- Combine the shallots, fish sauce, black pepper and pork pieces and let marinate for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over moderate heat. Add the pork pieces and all the marinade and stir until the meat is brown around the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- Using a steamer basket, steam the mung beans until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- To make the packet, neatly lay down the wrappers in this order: 1 sheet of plastic wrap (leave the other for use later), the aluminum foil, 2 sheets banana leaves (one perpendicular to the other). Place one cup of the rice in the center of the banana leaf, spreading it to cover a 5-inch square. Place half of the mung beans on top, then add the pork pieces. Cover with the remaining mung beans and place 1 cup of rice on top. Bring the narrow sides of the wrappers together. Fold the gathered edges over twice, then flatten against the packet. (You now have two open ends.) Fold one end over and hold the packet upright. Add half of the remaining rice, tapping it and pushing it down so the packet will be an even square. Fold the end over and repeat on the other side.
- Place the packet with the folded sides down in the center of the remaining plastic sheet. Wrap tightly so that water will not seep into the packet during cooking.
- Tightly tie the packet with two parallel strings in both directions (as in a tic-tac-toe pattern).
- Fill a large stockpot with water. Add the packet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Place a colander or something heavy on top of the packet to keep it submerged in the water. Cook uncovered until done, about 6 hours, adding more water if necessary. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 1 hour.
- To serve, cut the packet (without unwrapping) into 1/2-inch slices. Remove the wrapping and arrange the slices on a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature. If wrapped in plastic and refrigerated, the cake will keep for 1 week.
Tip: To impress your family and friends, serve the rice cake on a platter from Bed Bath N' Table.