For us, Chinese New Year is a chance for the family to come together and celebrate, and a huge part of celebrating is eating. While there are restaurants offering CNY dinners for their guests as well as dishes that you can get to save yourself the trouble, we can’t argue against the beauty of cooking something yourself.
It’s because we know that there’s a lot of value in making your food, especially if it’s healthy food, we’ll be sharing some healthy-ish Chinese New Year recipes that will give your family something to dig their teeth into without sending you running for the scale.
Sichuan Ramen with Cabbage & Tofu
The Sichuan Province is an excellent source of Chinese dishes mainly because of its different asset of spicy and creamy dishes. This soup is no different as it brings forth the best that Sichuan cuisine has to offer with a noodle-styled soup that has a lot to offer.
Prep-Time: 15 Minutes | Total Time: 25 Minutes
- 6 teaspoons Sichuan chilli-bean sauce (Toban djan) or chilli-garlic sauce
- 6 teaspoons tahini 1½ teaspoons reduced-sodium vegetable bouillon paste
- 1½ teaspoons Chinese rice wine
- 1½ teaspoons packed light brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon black vinegar
- 3 cups shredded napa cabbage
- 9 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 1½ heaped cups)
- ¾ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, coarsely ground
- 1½ cups cooked black or brown rice ramen noodles
- 1½ teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- 3 cups very hot water, divided
Let’s start by adding 2 teaspoons of chilli bean sauce and tahini as well as half a teaspoon of bouillon paste, rice wine and brown sugar together in a one and a half pint canning jar. Once they mix add in ¼ teaspoon of vinegar. Now layer one glass of cabbage, three ounces of tofu, ¼ teaspoon ground peppercorns and ½ cup ramen noodles into each jar. As a general tip, when you’re cooking the noodles take them out a little before the timing in the package so that they’re a bit underdone as they’ll finish cooking in the soup.
Top the jar with some sesame seeds and refrigerate it for up to three days. Once the three days pass, add one cup of hot water to every pyou made, cover it and shake it until the seasonings have dissolved. When you’re sure that it all disappears merely put it in the microwave for up to three minutes to let it heat up, though be careful when you take it out.
Scallop and Prawn Dumplings
No dish screams classic quite like a good plate full of dumplings, staples of Chinese food through and through. Don’t need to worry about it being fried as it is cooked using water and only a little bit of oil. Hence the term “pot stickers” but we highly suggest using a non-stick pan instead.
Prep Time: 1 Hour | Total Time: 1 Hour
- 8 ounces scallops, minced
- 4 ounces raw prawns, peeled, deveined and minced
- ½ cup minced scallions1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 36 round (gyoza) dumpling wrappers,
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- ¾ cup water, divided
- Ginger-Garlic Dipping Sauce, optional
The most important aspect of every good dumpling is its filling and that’s what we’re going to be focusing on first. Grab your scallops, shrimp, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper and put them in a large bowl, this bowl should be refrigerated for up to 2 days or remain frozen for a week.
Once you’re ready to get cooking, prepare your work area, make sure to leave a bowl of cold water and your stack of dumpling wrappers right in front of you a long with a baking sheet to hold the dumplings.
Now dip your fingers into the water, very carefully, and moisten the edges of the circle so that you can put the filling inside of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper into a half circle and pinch the edges so that they seal up nicely. Once you do this with all the dumplings, cover them up with a moist paper towel and preheat the oven to 200°F.
Mix 1 tablespoon canola oil with ¼ cup water in a large nonstick skillet and place over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Arrange one-third of the dumplings in the skillet, making sure that they don’t touch each other until they puff up and are brown on the bottom. Flip them over and let them cook for another minute. Once they’re over put them on a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven.
You should repeat the last procedure with every set of dumplings that you’re serving, making sure adjust the heat when necessary to prevent scorching. When you’re finally done, you can serve help the dumplings with some ginger-garlic dipping sauce.
Spicy Vegetable Lo Mein
Spice things up this Chinese New Year with some homemade lo mein. This veggie dish with an added hot streak to it is sure never to leave your family’s or your mind.
Prep Time: 35 Minutes | Total Time: 35 Minutes
- 8 ounces lo mein noodles, linguine or spaghetti
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 12 ounces Chinese broccoli or broccolini
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon sriracha or other Asian hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
- Pinch of salt
Boil the water in a large pot then add the noodles and cook them accordingly. Drain and rinse properly with cold water once they’re ready, making sure to shake and remove any excess water. Once you’re done, transfer them over to a cutting board and cut it into even thirds so that you can return them to the bowl and add the sesame.
Set the noodles aside for now and start cutting the broccoli stalks, making sure to trim a quarter a piece each time. Another thing to note is that you should cut these in half lengthwise if it seems like they’re too big and leave them in two inch long pieces. When they’re cut up, combine the soy sauce, rice wine (or sherry) and hot sauce in a small bowl and broccoli into one pot.
Heat the wok or skillet over high heat until the bead of water vaporises on contact and add in the 1 tablespoon peanut oil, ginger and garlic, swirl and stir-fry it until its fragrant, this should only take about 10 seconds. Throw in the mushrooms and broccoli stalks and continue stir-frying it for 30 more seconds until the oil is absorbed. Once that’s done swirl the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the noodles and broccoli leaves and stir-fry them for 15 seconds. Stir the sauce mixture and sprinkle with the salt and once you’re done mix it up and stir-fry it together with the noodles until they are heated.
Five Spice Hoisin Chicken with Greens
Noodles are great but sometimes having some meat to bite into can also be an excellent source of comfort for many during a big meal. Chinese dishes abound with meat recipes and while some can make one worry about their diet, others, like this one, manage to still add a healthy twist to it without losing any of the richness.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Total Time: 25 Minutes
- 500g skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2.5cm pieces
- 4tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- 1tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
- ½tsp five-spice mix
- Cooking oil spray
- 1tbsp vegetable oil
- 25g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 350g assorted Asian mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster or enoki
- 350g assorted Asian greens, such as pak choi, cut into 8cm lengths
- 2 x 240g packs Seeds of Change Quinoa & Wholegrain Rice
Grab a shallow glass or ceramic dish and place the chicken there. Mix in the hosin, sweet chilli and soy sauces with the five-spice mix and 2tbsp water in a small jug and then drizzle half of the mix over the chicken so that it absorbs the juices, make sure to sprinkle it on both sides and to save any leftover sauce.
When your chicken is thoroughly coated grab some skewers and start mounting the pieces on there. Spray a large non-stick frying pan with oil and set over medium-high heat. You can start cooking the skewers over the pan which shouldn’t take more than ten minutes. That being said, make sure to keep turning it occasionally and watch out for whether the chicken cooks ahead of time.
While the chicken is cooking heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan or a wok over medium heat. When it heats, add the ginger and mushrooms, making sure to stir them carefully for about three minutes or until the mushrooms turn golden. We’re going to want our veggies to have some consistency with the meat so add any remaining sauce to them and let them bathe in those juices while you cook them.
Lastly, heat the quinoa and rice mixtures according to the instructions on the pack. When they’re done cooking, you can serve them together with the skewers and vegetables for a delectable dish.
Sticky Honey Pork with Sesame Greens
Another Chinese staple is pork; you’d never run out of pork-related dishes each one with their unique tastes. For this recipe, we wanted to have a meal that both captured that feel while also giving people the feeling that they were eating something healthier. Thankfully, this recipe mixes in the pork and veggies seamlessly and while it is pan-fried the fact that it’s mainly done in the oven helps balance it all out.
Prep Time: 5 Minutes| Total Time: 30 Minutes
- 1tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
- 1tbsp tomato purée
- 1tbsp runny honey
- 25g fresh ginger, finely grated
- 400g pork tenderloin, trimmed
- Cooking oil spray
- 350g sugar snap peas
- 280g tenderstem broccoli, trimmed and cut into long florets
- 1tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 x 250g packets microwaveable brown rice and 1tsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted, to serve
Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170ºC/gas 5 and combine the soy sauce, tomato purée, honey and ginger in a shallow non-metallic bowl. When they’re mixed, you can add in the pork and coat it on the marinade.
Set aside the pork for now and grab a frying pan, we’re going to want to spray some oil on it before setting it to high heat. Once it’s sufficiently sprayed we can start cooking our pork (leave the marinade aside for now). Cook each piece of pork for about three to four minutes until they turn brown and transfer them over to a roasting tin so that you can cook it in the oven for 15 minutes. This is the point where we can start adding in the marinade, but don’t go crazy, just brush some of it occasionally while you cook the pieces until they’re cooked to your liking.
Of course, once they’re done we’ll have to leave them resting and covered with some foil so they can cool. You can turn your attention elsewhere for now, such as cooking the sugar snap peas and broccoli. Put them in a pan filled with water and boil them for about two minutes until they become tender. Drain any leftover water and mix them in with the sesame oil from before.
All that’s left now is to cook the rice according to the pack instructions and slice the pork. Arrange it on top of the rice and then scatter some vegetables on it so that it can be served.
We’re sure you can’t go wrong with these Chinese New Year’s Recipe, but in case we missed anything, what recipes do you think we should act? Or do you maybe have one that you’d like to share with us? Well, don’t doubt going down to the comments and tell us and have a Happy Lunar New Year.
Photo Credits: EatingWell, Time Out, The Works of Life, Australian Healthy Food Guide