I am always trying to expand not only my own palate and cooking experiences, but also to bring you along on the adventure. This past week marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year. My "Let's Lunch" pals (see us each month on twitter using #LetsLunch for searching) are posting LUCKY FOODS today to launch the Year of The Rabbit. I chose Yu Sheng and made a rabbit from mashed yams.
I've had a blast reading and listening to stories and traditions from this area of the world. I'm also very excited that one of our founding virtual lunch pals, Cheryl Tan, has a new book out this week, A Tiger In The Kitchen- A Memoir of Food and Family. Cheryl spent a year in her homeland with family members teaching and telling her stories and recipes from her heritage. I hope my rendition of YuSheng is respectful of the tradition, and introduces it to others in a fun way.
Many of the foods I used in my Yu Sheng are supposed to be symbols of good luck:
Pomelo is the most ancient of grapefruits and it's huge, and sweeter than other types. It's symbolic of prosperity because the word for pomelo in Chinese sounds like "to have".
Tangerines are good luck because the Chinese word sounds like luck and wealth.
Noodles are symbolic of long life and the raw salmon is a symbol of new beginnings.Carrots are like gold.The mushrooms are a symbol of good health and long life in Chinese art.
The Rabbit - a symbol of mercy and elegance.I gathered all my ingredients together, one by one, including pickled red ginger from the Chinese market, and Daikon that I shredded the same as the carrots and cucumbers on a mandoline.
For many years, all over China, small red envelopes are given out on many occasions to children, friends and family members. Often the red envelopes are filled with money as a symbol of contributing and beginning ones abundant wealth. For this Yu Sheng, I filled the envelopes with chopped peanuts and black sesame seeds (of course, another good luck food) for each person to open and sprinkle on their salads once we had plated them for eating.I used the rind from the Pommelo, which is very thick, to make candied citrus peels.
A Yu Sheng often has little won ton crackers, but I used Shrimp Chips from the Chinese Market to add a nice crunch.Because most of the ingredients are raw, the only recipe I created was the Pomelo Honey Vinaigrette we sprinkled on the salad before each of us ate two helpings. It's salad, so why not and besides - just more good luck for us, right?
RECIPE: Pomelo Honey Vinaigrette
Juice from one Pomelo Grapefruit
1 tsp. honey
3 tsp. rice vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
In a small bowl, whisk together the grapefruit juice, honey, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Gradually add the oil in a slow stream and whisk vigorously until a thicker dressing is achieved. Add more oil if needed or desired for taste. Can be refrigerated for a couple days.
FOR MANY MORE LUCKY FOODS: visit these fun and talented Let's Lunch pals:
A Tiger In The Kitchen
Hot Curries and Cold Beer
Free Range Cookies
Can It You Nit