Recipe: Celia Hu's Beijing Dumplings for Chinese New Year
The Year of the Rooster is upon us!
Hong Kong is covered in baskets of tangerines and oranges. Red and gold flowers adorn storefronts, and lanterns hang above the streets. Restaurants debut special menus, and shop-owners routinely tell customers that they'll be closed for quite a few days.
Chinese New Year marks the biggest celebration of the year, as Hong Kongers pray for good fortune, eat auspicious foods and decorate their homes with flowers and objects symbolizing wealth and luck. Fish is a lucky food to eat this time of year as it symbolizes "surplus," so I recently bought a decorative plush fish with red tassels to hang on my door. I've named her Cleo.
Since Lunar New Year is celebrated all over China and the world, every family has different ways of honoring the holiday. But as my ultimate foodie friend Celia Hu told me, there's one universal element: the New Year's Eve feast, or Nian Ye Fan. Celia says the meal is crucial as it sets the tone for the coming year. As a Beijing-native, Celia equates Chinese New Year with a piping hot plate of juicy dumplings -- a staple part of any northerner's Nian Ye Fan.
"Traditionally, all family members gather around the communal table to make dumplings, which are auspiciously shaped like the gold ingot, the money of ancient China," Celia writes in Foodie Magazine. As editor-at-large and the author her blog, Girl Meets Cooking, Celia reviews Hong Kong's best restaurants and has become one of my go-to sources for finding the best food in the city.
She continues, "A sumptuous feast of meat and fish is prepared for [New Year's Eve] dinner, and as the gong strikes midnight on Chinese New Year, a second feast of freshly boiled dumplings is served. No matter how full you are from the first dinner, it is traditional and a good omen to gobble down at least a couple of dumplings. My family has always celebrated CNY with dumplings while watching the countdown on CCTV’s wildly popular Spring Festival Gala. After the clock strikes midnight, the skies (and buildings) shake from a cascade of fireworks."
A lucky midnight dumplings feast? Sign me up every year for the rest of my life.
Head over to Celia's website to get the recipe for her Beijing-style dumplings. Her post includes a helpful how-to, so you can see how to roll the dough and pinch the dumplings shut so they don't pop open while steaming.
Gung hay fat choy!