Today begins the start of a new year…no I haven’t gone balmy or forgotten it’s been 2013 for the last month or so. If, like me you celebrate milestones in another culture, then you’re probably aware that there are in excess of 1.3 billion people celebrating the Year of the Snake for 2013.
That means that at any given time in the next fortnight, there are folks celebrating with family, loved ones, yum cha, noodles and all manner of complicated feasts and foods to enjoy. In fact as I write this post, I’ve already knocked two celebration meals/lunches with friends over the day/night before. From dumplings and noodles, to drinks and canapés…And we’re celebrating at lunch today and yet another banquet later tonight, well, you get the general idea…
Growing up, I welcomed the tradition of festive foods during the Chinese New Year. Each dish holds an important place in the celebration of wealth, prosperity and long life. None more so, than Lo Hei: Prosperity Toss
You’ve probably also heard that its tradition to give out money during the festive season, I can totally confirm that it’s true!!! For all the single folk out there, it’s not too late to marry into an Asian family before next year ;)
Prosperity Toss, How does it work?
Each of these Longevity noodles symbolises a thread of life. Extra long noodles, extra long life. The egg strips symbolise fertility & the colour of carrots (synonymous with red,) are for good luck. Lucky people eat a lot of Peanuts for the trifecta of Good Fortune, they offer, health, long life, prosperity, continuous growth, multiplication in wealth and stability.
So I’m going to be healthy as I live my long life. My hair will grow longer and I’ll be more stable on a step-ladder too…
Each guest stands around the biggest bowl or dish you can find and as the ingredients are thrown about (with clean chopsticks of course,) you all shout aloud your wishes as you toss away the old trouble of the last year and wish for all you need for the new year.
Yes, it gets very messy and yes, it gets very loud!
**Longevity noodles can be a little tricky to find, for the most part a trip to your local Asian grocer or Chinatown is ideal, or you can substitute for egg noodles of course.**
1-2 packets of longevity noodles, (depending on how many you’re feeding?)
3 whole eggs, (allow one per person)
1 large carrot
Few spring onion stems,
Handful of shiitake noodles, I’m using the longer dried stems too (cause I don’t want to take any chances with my luck!)
1/2 cup of peanuts roasted,
Few tbsp of black sesame seeds, (I need these for my flourishing business too…)
Few tbsp of dried shallots,
Protein of your choice: traditionally raw fish is used, strips of ham or tofu would work too.
Sauce & condiments:
May be anything from a mix of oil and vinegar with sugar, (or soy and a little brown sugar.) I’ve added fresh chillies, 1 clove of garlic, a teaspoon of grated ginger and five spice powder, along with a little of the mushroom stock from soaking the shiitake.
Bring the noodles to boil in hot salted water. Drain and refresh with some cold water and toss with a little oil to keep from sticking. Set aside in the serving dish of your choice.
Rehydrate the shiitake mushrooms in a pan with boiling water if using the dried version, otherwise wash and clean any mushrooms of your choice.
Mix the eggs into an omelette and pan fry until a nice even colour. When cool, cut into long strips and set aside. I used the same pan to toast my peanuts and sesame seeds (separately) too.
Peel and Julienne the carrot and cucumber. You can also shred the green onion stems, along with the ham, tofu or fish if using.
Combine the ingredients for the sauce and set aside in small ramekins, allowing one per person.
Arrange the multiple strips over the top of the noodles, starting from the outside and working your way into the centre. Carefully dress the top of the noodles with the dried peanuts, sesame seeds and shallots. Don’t worry about combining it together (because,) that’s half the fun of tossing it at the table.
Serve at the table with a pair of chopsticks for each guest, sauce and condiments on the side and Chinese tea.
Wishing you all a very dear and Happy Chinese New Year. May it be filled with lots of love, happiness, wealth & yum cha! Gan Bei…