Lunar New Year is a holiday celebrated in many different Asian countries. It begins with the first moon of the lunar calendar, which is based on the cycles of the moon, and usually falls on some date in February. With the holiday held on February 1st this year, here is a look at how some members of Lakeside’s Asian community celebrate Lunar New Year.
Food is an integral part of Chinese New Year. Traditionally, people who celebrate Chinese New Year will have a large feast on Lunar New Year’s Eve with family, similar to Thanksgiving.
One common food-related tradition is making dumplings (they always taste better homemade).
Last Chinese New Year, we were in the middle of the pandemic, and my family was too lazy to make a meal so we just got takeout. People can celebrate in many different ways, but the overall mood is still the same — wishing for prosperity and happiness in the new year!
In Chinese culture, dumplings represent prosperity and wealth because they resemble ingots, the currency in ancient China. During that time period, a custom was to wrap a coin inside a few random dumplings, then serve them together with normal ones. When eaten, the people who bit into a dumpling with a coin would have good luck and be fortunate for the rest of the year. The rounded shape of the dumplings also signifies family reunion, as families typically spend New Year’s Eve preparing and cooking them together.
Recipe by Jer-Shyan’s mom
1 pack dumpling wrappers (store bought or homemade, around 45)
1 lb ground pork (or chicken)
1 medium head of cabbage, minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
1½ tbsp salt
45 ml Shaoxing cooking wine
45 ml soy sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
50 ml water
1 tbsp sesame oil
White pepper, to taste
Make the filling
Mix the ground pork with 1 tbsp salt, set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add ½ tbsp salt to the minced cabbage and mix. Leave it aside for 10 minutes to let the salt draw out the water in the cabbage.
Add the cooking wine, soy sauce, and oyster sauce to the salted pork. Let it marinate for ~20 minutes, then add 50 ml water and mix.
After letting it sit for 10 minutes, squeeze out as much water as possible out of the cabbage.
To the pork mixture, add the minced ginger, dried cabbage, sesame oil, and white pepper.
Stir in one direction with chopsticks/wooden spoon until it becomes a bit sticky and everything is combined.
To test the flavor of the mixture, cook a bit of the filling in the microwave and taste for seasoning. Add seasoning to taste.
Fold the dumplings
Grab one of the dumpling wrappers and place it in your palm. Dip your fingers into some water and moisten the outer edge of half of the wrapper (in a semicircle).
Place a spoonful of the filling into the center of the wrapper. Make sure to not put too much because you don’t want the filling to spill out when cooking.
Fold the dumpling in half, pinching it together where it meets at the top. Take the side of the wrapper facing away from you and fold one side of it towards the middle. Repeat this on the other side. Then, press and seal the edges to make sure the filling can’t come out while cooking.
Note: use whatever folding technique you are most familiar with
Boil the dumplings (this is the most traditional method, but feel free to steam, pan fry, etc.)
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat, then gently add in the dumplings and cover the pot. Make sure to not crowd the pot.
Once the water comes back up to a boil, add about ½ cup of cold water and cover again.
Repeat this process another two times until the dumplings have grown in size and are floating.
Drain the dumplings and serve with a sauce of your choice.