January 2009 Archives
Lunar New Year has finally
arrived and it's time to celebrate! Break into the Year of the Ox with Chinese
tea leaf eggs. These beautiful eggs aren't only delicious... they're
auspicious. Eggs symbolize fertility and represent the golden nuggets of the Chinese
New Year feast. Not your ordinary baker's dozen, these eggs combine subtle flavors with deep brown hues from soy and tea leaves. Serve chilled as an appetizer on Easter morning, during New Year's feast-ivities, or all year long. They're almost too pretty to eat! (Photo from Slurp!)
Ingredients for Tea Leaf Eggs:
2 cups water
3 tbsp. Soy Sauce (2 tbsp reg. soy sauce; 1 tbsp dark soy sauce)
2 black tea bags
1 cinnamon stick
2 pods star anise (optional)
Place eggs gently into a large saucepan; cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and rinse with cool water. When cool, tap eggs lightly with the back of a spoon and break the shell. Don't remove the shell yet!
In a large sauce pan, combine 3 cups water, soy sauce, tea leaves, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Bring water to a boil. Then reduce heat, simmer, and cover for three hours. Remove the brew from heat and add eggs. Let eggs steep for 8 hours in the mixture before serving. Note: steep in mixture for up to 1-1/2 days for rich flavor.
Most Original: Album Cover ArtistJacket Lunch Box is written in Japanese, but don't worry if you can't understand it because the work speaks volumes. The artist and apparent Andrew W.K. fan replicates famous album covers in bento boxes, then dishes about his creations on Jacket Lunch Box. Made from rice, seaweed, fish cakes, and every ingredient imaginable, these cuisine creations are incredibly realistic. A rock n roll twist on rice!
Most Educational: Bento from Junko TerashimaMom Junko Terashima makes the most incredible Bento boxes for her kids. Most of us would be happy with a pb-and-j from dear old Mom. Junko creates fantasy worlds and brightly colored characters out of lettuce, rice balls, and sushi. Check out her Bento version of Mozart. Note to moms and dads everywhere: vegetables taste better when they resemble a cartoon or historical figure. If you want your kids to clean their plates, start crafting bento boxes. Or mix furitake seasoning into your rice for bold color and flavor.
Most Awe-Inspiring: Rice Patty ArtNow that we've seen awe-inspiring rice patty art, we'll never admire a plain old crop circle again. Each year, farmers in the town of Inakadate create breathtaking works of art using yellow-and green-leafed rice. If you want to get the best view of the rice patty fields, take to the sky, but get there before the rice is harvested in September. View more photos at Pink Tentacle.
Most Huggable: Asian Animal ArtWhen it comes to food, presentation is almost as important as flavor. This pup taking a bath in golden curry looks too cute to devour (almost). We'd rather cuddle with him or scratch his little chin. And he's waving! We don't know the name of the original artist that crafted this adorable meal, but we found the photo at PJ Lighthouse.
If you're hungry for more food art and Bento or want to learn how to make it, check out Just Bento and Lunch in a Box. Before you start molding rice into animals and characters, stock up on Asian food and groceries at Asian Food Grocer.com.
To Chinese families, New Years (or Spring Festival) is much more than a time for renewal. It's a time to reunite with family, honor ancestors, and feast - not for nourishment, but for prosperity Since Chinese New Year typically lasts for 15 days, here are 15 fun facts and "feast-ivities" for the holiday.
Five Fun Chinese New Year Facts:
- Chinese New Years goes by the Lunar Calendar and changes every year
- 2009 is the year of the Ox. It is said that people born in the year of the Ox are dependable, trust worthy, and become painters, engineers, and architects. One can achieve prosperity during the year of the ox through fortitude and hard work. Ox years: 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009.
- No little black dress (it's unlucky), instead wear red! At Chinese New Years celebrations, people give out "lucky money," in red envelopes, wear red clothes, and write poems on red paper. Red symbolizes fire, which is said to ward off evil spirits.
- There's a lantern festival on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Lanterns are carried by the light of the full moon in evening parade. This is traditionally when the dragon dance takes place.
- On New Year's Eve, the Chinese clean their home from top to bottom. At the stroke of midnight, they open their windows and doors to release last year's stresses.
10 Auspicious Asian Foods:
- Stock up on chicken and fish. When served whole, it symbolizes happiness and prosperity.
- Noodles represent longevity, therefore they should never be cut. Eat noodles out of our longevity soup bowl; it has a traditional design and it's red. Don't forget the Asian noodles.
- Dishes made with oranges represent wealth and fortune because they're China's most abundant fruit. Use these mandarin oranges in your next recipe. May your fortunes be plentiful. And tasty.
- Raw tofu and bean curd are not served on Chinese New Year because white is the color of death and misfortune. And here we thought it was good for you.
- Duck signifies fidelity. Eggs symbolize fertility. Egg rolls symbolize wealth. A duck egg roll a day...well we aren't sure what will happen. But try this Chinese roasted duck mix. It's delicious.
- For Chinese New Year, serve jiaozi (dumplings boiled in water). Place coins in the center of the dumplings. Whoever bites into the dumpling with a coin will have an exceptionally lucky year. And possibly a chipped tooth.
- Dishes are chosen based on homonyms (words spelled the same or that sound the same as other words). This explains the popularity of turnips on New Years. "Cai tou" the word for turnip means "good omen." The word for bamboo shoots sounds like the phrase "wishing everything would be well." Yet another reason why you should eat your vegetables.
- Also an auspicious dish, rice cakes are a popular dessert during New Years. Their sweetness symbolizes a rich, prosperous life and the layers signify rising abundance. The round shape means a family reunion. If only the same could be said for chocolate brownies.
- On Chinese New Year's Eve, a reunion dinner is served. Members of the family, near and far get together for a celebration. A sumptuous banquet honors the ancestors. Traditionally, the family serves a whole fish with a head and tail in tact.
- Eat lychee nuts for close family ties. If you can't find any, there's always lychee hi chew and lychee chewy candy. Be sure to share with family members!