Monday, January 23, 2012

Cooking in the Chinese New Year

Last summer I attended a cooking demonstration class by Grace Young, known as The Wok Queen, The Poet Laureate of the Wok, and a Wok Evangelist, and author of lots of cookbooks.  She's sharing three health-conscious stir-fry recipes at Weight Watchers, in honor Chinese New Year.

She also talks a little about Chinese New Year customs, and the importance of food:
What part does food play in all this?

 A huge one. Everything we eat during the holiday has a symbolic meaning. When friends come to visit we offer tea and sweets because sweet food guarantees a sweet year. Sometimes a food looks like something you want: scallops and dumplings are supposed to resemble ancient Chinese coins. Or a food's name may have the same sound as the name of something desirable. People eat lettuce because the word sounds like “growing fortune,” fish because the word sounds like “abundance,” and sweet-and-sour dishes because “sour” has the same sound as “grandchildren.”
I'm definitely going to try the Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce recipe. It might sound strange to Western palates to cook lettuce, but we frequently had stir-fried lettuce (and cucumbers, too, which also sounds strange to cook!) in China, and it was yummy!

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