The Lunar New Year, otherwise known as the Chinese New Year, is right around the corner! The vibrant and colorful festival is all about celebrating traditions, feasting, and honoring ancestors, family, and divine spirits. Like any other festival, food makes for an important part of the Lunar New Year, each with its own beliefs. For instance, the most common dishes cooked and served on Chinese New Year are fish, chicken, rice dumplings, noodles, spring rolls, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
Not only the dishes are important, but also how they are made, served, and eaten, making it a holistic ritual. Typically, whole fishes and whole chickens are prepared (and set on the table) to signify prosperity and welcome wholesomeness into your life. Similarly, dumplings symbolize luck, and spring rolls, symbolize wealth.
2022 is the year of the Tiger (a Water Tiger to be specific), an animal known for strength, resilience, confidence, and bravery. So, it’s no surprise that the food to eat on this day should also have similar characteristics. There are a whole bunch of Tiger-themed dishes that are made on the New Year, like the Tiger Salad, Tiger Skin Pepper, Tiger Skin Cake, Tiger Skin Egg with Braised Pork, etc.
Lunar New Year recipes to make at home
There are a host of traditional and reinvented dishes and interesting dining ideas that you can make across the 16 days of the Chinese New Year. As is the practice, it’s good to include a refreshing appetizer, a hearty meat/poultry course, and a comforting sweet dish.
Food Network star, Chef Jet Tila recommends a fresh and crunchy Tiger Salad and sweet and spicy chicken legs for this occasion. Check out these two recipes to add to your Lunar New Year menu and cook up a feast.
A classic dish made for the year of the Tiger, this fresh, crunchy, and tart salad is served as both a light appetizer and a side dish. It is also called Lou Hu Cai, which translates to Tiger Vegetables. With fresh greens and different julienned veggies in the mix, it does kind of look like a tiger’s stripes. This time-honored recipe has different variants in different parts of China. Like in the northwest, the salad includes tomatoes, red onions, green chilies, etc., and is usually served as a side dish. In Manchuria, the Tiger salad is eaten as an appetizer. In some other parts, the salad contains all shades of greens, with green onions, green peppers, and cilantro.
Chef Tila’s Tiger Salad is a refreshing take on the traditional recipe.
How to make a Tiger Salad
"Ingredients: Salad:· 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced on the bias (at an angle)· 1 cup cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped· 2 green onions, thinly sliced· Toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced Anaheim chili, for garnishDressing:· 1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar· 1 ½ teaspoons Lee Kum Kee Pure Sesame Oil· ½ teaspoon Lee Kum Kee Panda Brand Cooking Soy Sauce · 2 teaspoons sugar· ¼ teaspoon saltMethod: 1. Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl.2. Mix all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, then toss to coat the salad.3. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced anaheim chili."
Fried Chicken Legs
Usually, a whole, steamed chicken is served on the Lunar New Year menu. Since chicken is high in protein, eating a chicken dish also signifies rebirth. Though a whole chicken is ideal, you can always try a variation. Chef Tila recommends a sweet and spicy fried chicken recipe, made in an air fryer.
How to make Air Fryer Chicken Legs
"Ingredients: Chicken Legs:· 3 chicken legs, skin-on and bone-in· Coarse sea salt, to taste· Ground black pepper, to taste· Garlic powder, to taste· ¼ cup scallions, sliced for garnish· Lime wedges, for serving Sriracha Honey Sauce:· ¼ cup honey· ¼ cup Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili Sauce· 1 tbsp lime juice· 1 ½ tbsp tamariMethod: 1. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl.2. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder on both sides.3. Place in the air fryer at 350˚F for 15 minutes. Brush sauce on and cook for an additional 2-5 minutes.4. Transfer the chicken to a large serving plate. Reserve some sauce on the side for serving and pour the rest all over the chicken.5. Garnish with sliced scallion and serve with extra lime wedges on the side."
Let’s ring in Lunar New Year 2022 with these delectable dishes and eat for good luck, good health, and good times.