The celebration of the Lunar New Year has become a worldwide occasion. Interesting traditions are practised and sumptuous meals are served during the Chinese New Year that even non-Chinese have taken part in this delightful celebration.
The occasion is celebrated in late January to early February (depending on the year). It is also called the Spring Festival because it marks the end of the winter and the beginning of the spring in the Chinese calendar. Chinese New Year starts on a New Moon and ends with the lantern festival on the full moon 15 days later.
In 2013, Chinese New Year is celebrated on February 10. In the Chinese calendar, it is the year 4710, and the Year of the Snake. To usher the new Lunar year, it has been a tradition to serve lucky foods. Here’s a recipe you might like to try and serve to your family from Mary Kate and Nate Tate in their book, Feeding the Dragon (www.feedingthedragon.com)
5 (about 1-inch-square) pieces dried tangerine peel
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound beef flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain into 2-inch-long strips
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 dried red chile, seeded and chopped
3 green onions, green and white parts kept separate, chopped into 1/2-inch segments
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon chili bean sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Soak the tangerine peel in warm water for 1 hour to rehydrate, then drain. Peel the orange and use a spoon to scrape away as much of the white pith as possible. Reserve the fruit for another use. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Blanch the orange peel in the water for 6 minutes to get rid of any bitterness, and then slice into slivers. Dissolve the cornstarch in a large bowl with the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the rice wine, and ginger. Add the beef and toss so that all the strips are coated, then marinate, covered, in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wok over high heat. Tip the contents of the beef bowl into the wok and stir-fry for about 1 minute, or until the beef is browned but still slightly pink inside. Take care not to overcook the beef or it will get tough. Remove the beef and any liquid from the wok.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok and when it is hot, add the Sichuan peppercorns, chile, the white parts of the green onions, the tangerine peel, and orange peel, and stir-fry for 45 seconds. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of rice wine, the hoisin sauce, chili bean sauce, and sugar and stir for a few seconds. Toss in the beef and the green parts of the green onions and stir until the onions start to wilt. Serve hot.