The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, which extends over 15 days and is the longest and most important public holiday in China, begins today. 2015 is the year of the sheep (or goat – there seems to be some confusion) and is a time for celebration and for families to be together. The festivities include fireworks, parades, special dinners and dragon dances. Red is considered auspicious, symbolizing good fortune and joy, and is prominent in decorations, clothing and envelopes, which contain crisp bills and are given away as gifts. Foods considered fortuitous are eaten, such as fish and dumplings, and it is considered bad luck to hear a child cry, to ask for a loan, or to clean the house or wash hair for 3 days.
Although the Chinese New Year is not celebrated at our house – we don’t decorate with red, give away envelopes filled with money, or explode fireworks – I always enjoy acknowledging the festival with Chinese inspired food – and I happen to think the “no cleaning house” sounds pretty good too.
1 pound broccoli, trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
In a pot filled with 2 inches of water, steam the broccoli until the stems are just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
Discard the water. Add the butter, soy sauce, five-spice powder, and 2 teaspoons water and place over medium-low heat. Stir until butter has melted. Drizzle the mixture over the vegetables, top with the nuts and serve.
Recipe adapted from Epicurious
CHAR SIU RIBS
6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 rack spareribs, sliced between the bones
In a medium bowl, whisk the hoisin sauce, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, ginger, toasted sesame oil, garlic, five-spice powder and sugar. Transfer 3 tablespoons of mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for the glaze. Transfer the rest of the hoisin mixture to a large resealable plastic bag, along with the ribs. Seal the bag and turn the ribs to coat. Refrigerate at least 1 day and up to 2 days, turning the bag occasionally.
Heat oven to 250F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a rack inside the sheet. Arrange the ribs on the rack, spacing them 1 to 2 inches apart. Bake the ribs 2 hours.
Increase the temperature to 300F. Brush the ribs with the reserved glaze. Bake until the ribs are tender and dark brown, turning and brushing with the glaze every 15 minutes, for about 30 to 45 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine, February 2015