|January 21, 2012||Filled under Main Dish, Pork, Vegetables|
Traditions that are 4709 years old. That is old. A Dragon that determines the fate of a generation. Weeks of preparation for family gatherings that will last 15 days. (That is a long time to spend with the in-laws and the crazy uncles!) Monday January 23 is Chinese New Year, the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.
It is very common for people to take weeks of holiday from work just to prepare for this celebratory time of year. And don’t you just know that includes some good food and tradition. So I decided to do a little research in addition to cooking some Chinese food to celebrate with my own little family. I was truly fascinated with what I found and couldn’t wait to share.
The celebration of New Year’s Eve is traditionally held at the home of the eldest member of the family. (Wonder if their grandparents keep the house hot as Hades like many of ours do.) The celebration includes a large meal with traditional chicken and fish dishes.
Everyone would be dressed in new red outfits and decorations of red would be hung around the home. The red tradition comes from the belief that red drives away negativity and evil spirits. “Red Packets” are given during the reunion dinner to young or unmarried family members. These packets are small, red pouches containing money to symbolize good luck and honor in the year to come. Not a bad tradition to adopt.
Even the dishes served are symbols of wealth, happiness and good fortune; a lot like the US tradition of black eyed peas and collards. There are presents and fireworks as well to round out the celebration.
The Chinese tradition is that each year is dedicated to a specific animal. These animals also symbolize personalities for those born in the year as well as the wealth and luck that will characterize that year. This year is the year of the Dragon. The Dragon is a personality marked by excitement, unpredictability, exhilaration and intensity. (I have those days. They are the good ones.) The Dragon is also all about the drama. (Drama = not good days!)
Some famous historical Dragons are John Lennon & Ringo Starr, Al Pacino and Salvador Dali. Not bad! In the area of wealth Dragon years are great years for starting a business. According to the experts, a Dragon year means money will be easier to come by. This I am thrilled about! Bring it!
In honor of this very old, very unique celebration on the other side of the globe I made the dinner below for my family and some out of town family guests this weekend. We ate and laughed and were thankful for the wealth of each other’s company. Maybe it was the Dragon, or the food, or just the time we could share.
Chinese Pork Loin
- 3 lb pork loin
- salt to taste
- 1 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 oyster sauce
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs rice wine
- 2 tsp 5 Spice Powder
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 3 tsp minced ginger
- 3 tsp minced garlic
Putting It All Together:
- Rub pork loins with salt to taste.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Reserve 1/2 cup to baste.
- Place loin in a large resealable plastic bag.
- Pour marinade in bag.
- Seal and flip to coat meat.
- Refrigerate to marinade for at least 2 hours (the longer the better and the moistier your meat).
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Roast loin in middle rack for 1 hour, basting once.
- Remove from oven, baste, reduce heat to 350 and return to oven.
- Cook at 350 for 30 minutes.
Ham & Veggie Fried Rice
1/4 cup oil, divided
2 extra large eggs
1 cup diced, cooked ham
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
3 cups cooked jasmine rice
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 green onions, sliced
Putting It All Together:
Heat 1 tbs oil in large skillet (or Wok) at medium high heat for 1 minute.
Add eggs and fry for 1 minute on each side.
Remove egg from skillet, finely chop and set aside.
Heat remaining oil in same skillet at medium high heat.
Add ham and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, until ham is slightly browned.
Add pepper, onion and sprouts; stir fry 5 minutes.
Add peas, rice and soy sauce; stir fry 5 more minutes.
Remove from heat; stir in egg and sprinkle with sliced green onions.