Celebrate Chinese New Year, the year of the dog, on 16th February with this feast-worthy dumpling dish fit for a prosperous new year by chef Jeremy Pang.
If you’ve never taken part, then this year is definitely the time to get your lantern on. Chinese New Year is by far the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar and at 15 days, the longest. A momentous fusion of food, colour, tradition, family and hope for the year ahead, it all kicks off on Friday 16th February.
While the western calendar is based on the earth’s orbit around the sun, the date of Chinese New Year varies according to the moon’s orbit around the earth. It always falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice and is also called Lunar New Year, as it begins on the first day of the new lunar calendar.
Each year has its own corresponding animal from the Chinese zodiac – a cycle of 12 animals. 2018 is the year of the dog, and is characterised by honesty, fairness, loyalty and popularity.
The best bits of the two-week celebration take place on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and the Lantern Festival falling on 2nd March. Bringing a close to festivities, Chinese families go out to see the first full moon of the new year, send up flying lanterns, watch lions and dragons dancing, admire fireworks and feast.
The celebrations at Chinese New Year are full of symbolism – and this is certainly the case for its food. Fortune fruit such as mandarins, pomegranates and peaches are displayed, fish is prepared to increase prosperity, dumplings and spring rolls symbolise wealth, sweet rice balls and rice cake represent family togetherness, and noodles for happiness and longevity.
A time for generosity and celebration, why not use the opportunity of Chinese New Year to gather family and friends over a flavoursome feast? Chef Jeremy Pang shares his flavour-packed wealth-bestowing dumpling recipe to get you started:
Celebrate Chinese New Year with Shitake and Chive Dumplings by Jeremy Pang
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 10 minutes
225g plain flour
130–150ml hot water
vegetable oil, for frying
50g rice vermicelli noodles
a handful of coriander
1 spring onion
a thumb-size piece of ginger
1 garlic clove
5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and drained (if you can’t get shitake, use any other dried mushroom)
200g Chinese chives or garlic shoots
5 pak choi leaves
1 leaf of Chinese leaf cabbage
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
½ tablespoon cornflour
The Dipping Sauce
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
4 tablespoons Chinkiang black rice vinegar
a thumb-size piece of ginger, finely sliced
For the dumpling dough
Sieve the flour into a bowl. Gradually add the water, mixing with a fork to form a dough, then knead it on a lightly dusted surface for 5 minutes until slightly elastic.
Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 1–2mm, then use a 70mm diameter circular cutter to cut out as many pastries as possible. Set the pastries aside on a baking sheet or tray and cover with a tea towel until needed.
For the filling
Put the noodles in a bowl, cover with hot water and soak for 3 minutes. Drain and dry the noodles on a clean kitchen towel, then finely chop them along with all the other filling ingredients. Put the chopped filling ingredients in a bowl along with the marinade ingredients and mix together well.
For the dipping sauce
Combine the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl or ramekin and wrap the dumplings as shown below.
How to cook:
Half-fill a large pot, wok or deep-fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until the tip of a wooden chopstick or skewer starts to fizz after a second or so in the oil.
Carefully add the dumplings in batches of no more than 10 and deep-fry for 3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the dumplings carefully with a slotted spoon and drain well on a plate covered with kitchen paper. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.
Recipe featured in Chinese Unchopped by Jeremy Pang. Published by Quadrille (£19.99), photography by Martin Poole. Jeremy Pang is the chef and founder of the award-winning asian and oriental School of Wok cookery school.