MARION GRASBY SHARES HER TOP TIPS FOR
HOSTING A CHINESE NEW YEAR DINNER
Chinese New Year celebrations are all about gathering together loved ones to wish them good fortune and happiness for the year to come. A family-style Chinese banquet dinner is almost always the cornerstone of the celebrations. Here are Marion Grasby’s top tips for hosting your own Chinese New Year party – Take it away Marion….
- Think red and gold. Red is an auspicious colour for Chinese New Year because traditionally it was said to ward off evil spirits while gold symbolizes wealth. Create a glittering atmosphere with red and gold lanterns, candles and tea lights.
- A number of specific dishes are usually served for good luck and fortune including, whole steamed fish, dumplings and noodles.
- Mini Chinese take out containers are a great way to serve noodle dishes (and will cut down on dishwashing!). They’re available from Asian grocers or party supply shops.
- Don’t forget the fortune cookies!
FIVE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOR CHINESE COOKING
- FRESH GINGER – Ginger is one of the most common Chinese ingredients and is used finely sliced in stir-fries or finely grated in marinades and sauces. Add a couple of fresh slices to your herbal tea for a warm, soothing effect.
- SOY SAUCE – Light and dark soy sauce are the two types I would recommend having in your pantry. The light is used for its salty, flavour-enhancing ability whereas dark soy sauce is less salty and is mainly used to add colour.
- SESAME OIL – This aromatic oil adds a beautiful toasty, nutty flavour to dishes. Use it at the end of cooking (a little bit like drizzling a finished dish with extra virgin olive oil) because high heat will destroy most of the aromatic flavours.
- CHINESE VINEGAR – Also called Chinkiang vinegar. This dark rice vinegar has a deeply savoury and lightly acidic flavour. It adds lovely high notes to soups, sauces and braised dishes.
- CHINESE GREEN VEGETABLES – Bok choy, wombok (Chinese cabbage), gai lan (Chinese broccoli), pak choy, mustard greens…there are loads of Chinese greens to enjoy. Steaming and stir-fry are the most common preparations but also try adding finely sliced bok choy or pak choy to your regular green salad.
AVOIDING CHINESE TAKE-OUT
How to make fresh meals at home this Chinese New Year.
- Steam instead of fry. Investing in a large Chinese bamboo steamer is a great way to start eating healthier Chinese dishes. Use it to steam fish, Chinese greens and dumplings.
- Go green. Use lettuce to wrap up any Chinese stir-fry dish instead of serving it with rice or try out a san choy bow recipe like my Marion’s Kitchen San Choy Bow cooking kit.
- Add more veggies. Pack more colourful veg into your weeknight stir-fry by reducing the amount of meat or seafood you use and boosting the vegetable count.
- Add an Asian twist. Chinese vegetables like bok choy and pak choy are not only great in stir-fries but also salads. Try adding finely sliced Asian greens to your regular salad.
This Hosting a Chinese New Year Dinner was a Guest Post courtesy of Marion Grasby.