If you've ever enjoyed an authentic Chinese style Lunar New Year feast, you will know that there is always an overabundance of delicious food at the table and/or a parent or grandparent piling a mountainous heap of food onto your plate and urging you to eat more. If you'd like to celebrate at home this year and need some ideas for authentic Chinese dishes, try cooking up this menu of 8 dishes below (8 is a lucky number in Chinese, because it sounds similar to the word that means wealth and success!) to welcome the New Year! Each of these dishes were chosen with health and easy access to ingredients in mind, featuring a variety of healthy proteins and vegetables to enjoy. Don't forget to leave room for dessert!
Start off your Lunar New Year Dinner with this delicious vegetable spring roll appetizer recipe. While spring rolls are not often regarded as "healthy", this recipe is crispy, airy and light, without the greasy feeling! This recipe incorporates fragrant ginger, garlic, scallions and a whole lot of great veggies like mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, bamboo shoots and more. You won't want to stop eating these, but they are a great way to start off your meal with some texture!
2. Chicken & Shiitake Mushroom Dumplings
The great thing about this chicken and mushroom dumpling recipe is that you can either pan fry them to be crispy, or you can toss them into boiling water to enjoy boiled or with a light broth. Either way, the rich earthy, meatiness of the shiitake mushrooms blend well with the tender chicken meat and great with a chili oil or soy dipping sauce!
This is probably one of the healthiest if not simplest ways to enjoy chicken. It is tender and smooth from poaching and is lightly spiced with ginger, garlic and scallion from the poaching liquid. Chicken is a must have for celebration meals in Chinese culture, and having fresh chicken is key to achieving the pure flavor--most people will make do with chilled chicken from the market, but avoid frozen chicken, as much flavor would be lost. Once the chicken is ready, chop into pieces and enjoy with dipping sauces and a bowl of rice!
4. Steamed Flounder with Chili Peppers
In Chinese food, fish is a must-have ingredient for the Lunar New Year feast because it is auspicious and the sound for fish "yu" is similar to the symbol and sound of the word for great fortune and prosperity. Typically an entire fish is presented, but if you have a small house hold, making this dish with flounder fillets rather than an entire flounder works just as well. Enjoy this healthy steamed flounder fish recipe topped with spicy chilis and soy sauce!
5. Boiled Shrimp with Dipping Sauce
Despite its unappetizing name, this is an extremely popular dish in Cantonese Chinese cuisine and is one of the best ways to cook fresh shrimp, effectively capturing the natural flavor of the shrimp at the peak of its sweetness and texture. If you're can, definitely try to find live shrimp for this recipe, as the sweet flavor is unrivaled with frozen shrimp. Serve with a scallion dipping sauce or ginger vinegar sauce!
No feast is complete without some vegetables and sides! This simple stir-fried bok choy can be a favorite main with rice or a side and only takes about 15 minutes to put together. The baby bok choy is tender, savory and slightly sweet with garlic. It's a great component to a family meal and tastes so good!
When eating a Lunar New Year meal, eating family style with assorted dishes to go with a main carb dish is essential. Enjoy this vegetarian fried rice with assorted vegetables like peppers, mushrooms, onions carrots and egg. Don't forget, the trick to good, non-soggy fried rice is using day old rice!
8. Black Sesame Sweet Rice Balls (Tang Yuan)
If you've still got room, this dessert of sweet rice balls filled with fragrant black sesame paste with round everything all out to a satisfying end to your meal. Tang Yuan (the glutinous sweet rice balls) are traditional Lunar New Year desserts and is typically eaten to honor the reunion of family--the name "tang yuan" is similar to the Chinese term "tuen yuen" which means reunion. The rice balls are cooked and eaten in a sweet ginger broth and has a smooth, chewy texture enveloped by the aromatic spice of ginger.
We hope you enjoy this selection of dishes for Lunar New Year and beyond! The Lunar New Year is a time for family and friends to welcome the New Year together, celebrate togetherness, peace, good health, prosperity and fortune. It is a time to honor traditions, our elders and ancestors and to start anew.
Join us for a virtual Lunar New Year celebration and other fun activities on our Lunar New Year page at www.thesay.org/lnyf
For more healthy, yummy recipes to stay on track with your wellness goals visit our Healthy Recipes page!
Need more ways to stay healthy at home? Whether you are snowed in, enjoying a day at home or traveling, you can continue to pursue your health and wellness goals with the Y! Y members may visit our Virtual Fitness Studio at www.thesay.org/vfs to enjoy group exercise workouts, family fitness classes and more with your favorite Summit Area YMCA instructors! Not a member yet? Join today and get your joining fee waived!
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The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. Founded in 1886, the Summit Area YMCA has a history steeped in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income and background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Each year, we serve over 15,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the communities of Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those with demonstrated need.
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