Chinese New Year Dinner
Chinese New Year is the traditional celebration of the lunar new year which typically falls in the first week of February. This is a time to celebrate with family and friends and, as is so common among celebrations, food plays a central role. One of the common foods you may find at a Chinese New Year meal are dumplings 饺子 (jiǎo zi). Fillings vary but making them with a fatty fish like Copper River salmon creates a delicious treat that is healthy as well!
Eating Fish for Chinese New Year
Many of the traditional foods eaten during a Chinese New Year are symbolic. Dumplings for example are shaped like ancient Chinese gold pieces called ingot and therefore eating them is symbolic of living a wealthy and prosperous life in the year to come. Fish is also a popular dish because of a particular play on words. The Chinese word for fish 鱼 (yú) has the same pronunciation as 余, which means “surplus”. A common New Year’s greeting is 年年有余 (Nián nián yǒuyú), wishing someone a surplus (or fish) of food and money each year.
This easy recipe for fish dumplings will allow you to enjoy a small part of Chinese culture at home!
- 1 lb Copper River Salmon, skinned and deboned
- 1” ginger, grated
- 2 Cloves garlic, diced
- 4 Green onions, chopped
- 1 Tbs fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp crushed red chili flakes
- 20 gyoza wrappers
- Finely chop the salmon (or pulse in a food processor) and place in a large mixing bowl
- Add in the green onions, ginger and garlic and mix well with hands
- Season with the dry spice ingredients and slowly stir in the liquid ingredients
- Place the mix in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes
- Cover a baking sheet with wax paper
- To prepare, place a heaping tablespoon of the salmon mix in the middle of the gyoza wrapper.
- Using a bowl of water to constantly wet your fingertips, fold the gyoza wrapper in half and slowly pinch the edges diagonally together. The water will help the wrapper stick.
- Place completed dumplings on the wax paper so that they do not touch one another to prevent sticking
- When the baking sheet is full place in the freezer for at least one hour
- When ready to cook the dumplings remove from freezer. Heat a small amount of olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet with a lid.
- Place the dumplings in the skillet and allow the bottoms to brown slightly. Once the bottoms have turned golden, pour ½ Cup of water into the skillet and cover with a lid to trap the steam.
- Reduce heat to medium and allow dumplings to steam until the qyoza skin becomes slightly opaque (about 9 minutes)
- Remove from the pan and serve with soy sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.
- You can use a food processor for all the chopped ingredients, but many people prefer the texture of hand chopped filling
- Store bought gyoza wrappers can be found in the freezer aisle and will need to be defrosted before use
- Dumplings are often made with pork which is fatty, to make this healthier version use an especially fatty fish like Copper River king or coho
To learn more about Chinese Lunar New Year history and traditions visit: http://www.chinesenewyear.net