We’re coming to the final week of Lunar New Year celebrations for Year of the Ox. It’s not too late to make lucky foods like dumplings and tang yuan (both pictured above) !
In the Chinese Zodiac, you’re an Ox is you were born in 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997 or any 12 years before or after. Having an honest nature, oxen are known for diligence, dependability, strength and determination. Having great patience and a desire to make progress, oxen can achieve their goals by consistent effort. They are not much influenced by others or the environment, but persist in doing things according to their ideals and capabilities. Before taking any action, Oxen will have a definite plan with detailed steps, to which they apply their strong faith and physical strength. As a result, people of the Ox zodiac sign often enjoy great success. Oxen are weakest in their communication skills. They are not good at communicating with others, and even think it is not worthwhile to exchange ideas with others. They are stubborn and stick to their own ways.
Source: China Highlights
Lunar New Year is celebrated in many Asian countries. Food eaten at Chinese New Year is often chosen for symbolism or because they are homophones with words like luck, prosperity and fortune.
Dumplings, shaped like Chinese gold bars, represent prosperity.
Tang Yuan, glutinous rice balls, are usually consumed on the last day of the lunar new year; their round shape symbolizes the first full moon after the new year. Try my tang yuan recipe, with two variations.
Most often, Chinese dumplings are filled with a pork-based filling, but you can really fill them with anything. I have found many vegetarian fillings to be lackluster, so I decided to create one based upon the jiu cai hezhi (chive boxes) my mother made when I was growing up. (These were more the size of empanadas or hand pies, and pan fried on both sides. Her filling also included bean vermicelli/cellophane noodles and sometimes shiitake mushrooms, which you can add here if you like.) While this recipe calls for eggs, I have also provided two excellent vegan alternatives: egg replacer or firm tofu.
Chinese Chive and Egg Potstickers
Makes: 25-30 potskickers
½ lb Chinese chives
5 large eggs (or 1 cup of Just Egg egg replacer); you can also use 1 cup crumbled firm tofu (about 1/2 package)
½ tsp salt
30 potsticker wrappers (the round ones; about ½ pack)
Neutral oil for frying
Dipping sauce (recipe follows)
- Cut chives into ¼ “ lengths.
- Beat eggs and salt together. (If using tofu, crumble with a fork in a bowl, and season with salt.)
- Heat 1 T oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, pour in eggs/Just Egg and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Scramble until firm, using spatula to break egg into small pieces. (If using crumbled tofu, stirfry until slightly browned.)
- When eggs/Just Egg/tofu crumbles are completely cooked, add chopped chives, and combine thoroughly for about a minute, until chives are slightly softened. Remove from heat and allow to cool before filling dumplings.
- To make dumplings, get a small bowl of water ready. To make each dumpling, place a wrapper into the palm of your hand, then dip a finger of your other hand into the water, then trace a line around the outer edge of the wrapper. Then put a teaspoon of prepared filling in the center, and seal and pleat the dumpling, making sure to make a flat base for frying. (There are many ways to do this, but the key is to keep the center flat in your palm and to pleat one side, and press it against the other, unpleated side to seal the dumpling. This will automatically create a curved shape and a flat base.) Repeat until all filling is used up.
- To fry potstickers:
-Heat a tablespoon of canola or other vegetable oil into the bottom of a frying pan over medium high heat and place dumplings (standing up) into the pan, leaving a little room around each dumpling. Cook for 30 seconds until the bottom begins to get a little crisp and light brown.
-Add 1/4 cup of cold water, or enough to reach about 1/3 the height of the dumplings, then turn heat to low and cover pan. Covering is important because the steam is what will cook the dumplings.
– Cook on low heat for about 2-3 minutes, until water is almost evaporated. Check to see if the wrappers are cooked (soft and translucent) and if the bottoms are brown and release easily. If not, then add another 1/4 cup of cold water and repeat the process. Dumplings are done when the water has evaporated and the bottoms have a nice golden, sticky crust (potstickers!)
7. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.
Dumpling Dipping Sauce
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 ½ Tbsp Chinese black vinegar or rice vinegar
½ Tbsp sesame oil or chili oil
1 Tbsp finely minced scallions
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
Stir together all ingredients.
Wishing you luck, fortune, prosperity and all the good things in the new year!
I’m feeling very lucky (and grateful) already, as my cookbook publication date is just weeks away! I hope you’ll purchase a copy of Spicebox Kitchen, and YOU are invited to my free pub day virtual launch event at Book Larder on 3/16 at 5PM PST. Register here! Thank you for your support!
To your health!