by Rena Fulgencio, staff writer
All the foods served during Chinese
New Year festivities have significance during this time of
year for the Chinese.
The length of noodles represents longevity, but careful not to
cut them; it’s bad luck. Spring rolls symbolize wealth,
because of their resemblance to gold bars. Either a whole chicken
or dumplings called jiaozi represent family unity. When the jiaozi
is crescent-shaped, like silver ingots (ancient Chinese money),
it symbolizes wealth and prosperity.
But, foods don’t necessarily have meaning just because
of its appearance. The sound of the Chinese word for the food
can also make it significant. For example, “yu” is
fish in Chinese. It sounds like the Chinese words for wish and
abundance. Therefore, serving fish on the eve of Chinese New
Year is wishing for future abundance. The Chinese word for tangerine
sounds like luck and is frequently given for free throughout
the festivities along with oranges, which represent wealth.
Chinese cuisine is regional. There are eight different variations:
Shandong, Sichuan, Guangdong (Cantonese), Fujian, Huaiyang (Jiangsu),
Zhejiang, Hunan, and Anhui. Shandong cuisine is a combination
of the Jinan and Jiadong cooking. Jinan chefs use methods like
deep frying, grilling, pan frying, and stir frying. Jiadong chefs
have a reputation for its fresh, light flavors when it comes
to cooking seafood. Shandong food isn’t greasy and emphasizes
aroma, freshness, crispness, and tenderness. Bird’s nest
soup and yellow river carp in a sweet and sour sauce are typical
One of the better known Chinese cuisines is Sichuan or “Szechuan” as
it is called in the West. It emphasizes the use of chili, so
it is characterized by spicy flavors. Some basic cooking methods
include frying (both with and without oil), pickling, and braising.
Typical Sichuan dishes include Kung pao chicken, smoked duck,
and mapo tofu.
Guangdong cuisine tastes light, fresh, and crisp. Guangdong chefs
cook their food by roasting, stir frying, sautéing, deep
frying, braising, stewing, and steaming, and place an emphasis
on the artistic presentation of their dishes, such as shark fin
soup, steamed sea bass, roasted piglet, and dim sum.
Fujian cuisine is a combination of Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and Xiamen
cooking. The pickled taste is what makes their food stand out
from others. Buddha jumping over the wall, snow chicken, and
prawn with dragon’s body are some examples of dishes found
in Fujian cuisine.
Mostly popular in the lower region of the Yangtze River, Huaiyang
cuisine, also known as Jiangsu cuisine, emphasizes the use of
fresh seafood. Cooking methods include stewing, braising, roasting,
and simmering. Huaiyang foods are light and sweet. Stewed crab
in a clear soup, squirrel with mandarin fish, and Liangxi crisp
eel are some of the dishes offered.
Zhejiang cuisine fuses Hanzhou, Ningbo, and Shaoxing cooking
styles together creating nongreasy, lightly fragrant dishes that
are recognized for their freshness, tenderness, and smoothness.
Beggar’s chicken is a well-known dish from Zhejiang cuisine.
Hunan cuisine is a combination of cooking techniques from the
Xiangjiang region, Dongting Lake, and Xiangxi costeau areas.
Staple ingredients include chili, pepper, and shallot.
Finally, Anhui chefs are more concerned with the cooking temperature
while braising, and stewing dishes, such as stewed snapper and
Huangshan braised pigeon.
Sweet and Sour Pork
1lb. lean pork loin, cut in bite-size cubes
2 eggs beaten
1 cup sugar
1 dash salt
cup orange juice
cup pineapple juice
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
1 cup cubed pineapples
cup sliced onions
1 garlic clove, minced
2 dried red chili peppers, seeded and chopped
-First, heat some peanut oil in a skillet. Place the cubed
pork in the eggwash, then dredge in cornstarch and shake
off the excess. Then, fry in the heated pan until cooked
all the way through and golden brown on all sides. Drain
on paper towels and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.
To make the sauce, combine the sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons
of cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Then, Add the orange
juice, pineapple juice, vinegar, and tomato paste and stir
until blended. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly,
until sauce is thickened. Reduce heat to low.
Next, place 2 tablespoons of oil in a hot wok and add the
garlic and hot pepper flakes. Stir-fry for a few seconds
then add the bell peppers, pineapple, and onions. Stir-fry
until vegetables are softened, but still slightly crisp.
Finally, arrange cooked vegetables and pork cubes with
steamed rice on a serving plate and serve with the sauce
on the side.
Stuffed Roasted Chicken
1 large chicken
2 cups ready-sliced dried Chinese mushrooms
2 cups boiled baby bok choy
20 whole shallots, peeled
20 whole garlic cloves, peeled
cup red wine
2 tsp. light soy sauce
3 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
-First, soak the mushroom slices in water until soft. Keep
the soaking liquid aside. Place the chicken in a large
roasting pan. Loosen the skin of chicken. Then, rub the
marinade under the skin, in the cavity and over the skin.
Be sure to keep a little bit of marinade aside for the
gravy. Tuck the sliced mushrooms under the skin of the
Then, heat your oven to 200-degrees farenheit. Loosely
cover the chicken with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Turn
the heat down to 150-degrees farenheit and stuff the chicken
with shallots and garlic. Remove the foil, and roast uncovered
for 20 minutes. Pierce with a skewer, if the juice runs
clear, the chicken is ready.
To make the gravy, pour out the excess oil from the roasting
tin into a small pot. Add a cup of mushroom water, and
leftover marinade to the pan. Heat over the stove. Taste
to adjust seasoning to your liking. Place the chicken on
a serving platter and garnish with the baby bok choy.