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Celebrating the Chinese New Year: Beef, Broccoli & Shiitake Mushroom Stirfry

beef and broccoli stirfry

I went shopping to create a meal to celebrate Chinese New Year as part of my membership with the Collective Bias Social Fabric Community. And yes, I was paid to do this. I hope you like the post I wrote as a result! #CollectiveBias #shop #cbias

As you could probably plainly tell from my post on the Christmas Holidays, I am missing the holiday season. So I thought that celebrating the Chinese New Year would be a perfect excuse to help our family extend the general merriness out as long as possible.

All I really knew before writing this post though was that the Chinese New Year took place at the end of January. My daughter Stella also told me that it is the lunar Year of the Horse (her animal sign!). I found it really interesting to learn more about this festival.

To honour it, we’ll be having a family dinner together (our dinner with not be “authentic” but we’ll share the tradition and teach the kids more about it)… maybe you’d like to join us and do the same on January 31st?

The Event

According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board site, the Chinese New Year starts on January 31st and runs for 15 days. During this time, there are a number of family traditions and customs that are celebrated, which all culminate on February 14th with the Spring Lantern Festival.

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The Food

Auspicious foods for celebrating the new year include black moss, dried oysters, and braised pig trotter. Since I don’t really have these foods on hand, I am going super-basic (as is my style in the kitchen anyhow!) with a beef and broccoli stir fry. The only ingredient I don’t have in my cupboard is a sauce, so I hit up the aisle that had “Chinese” in its label at my local Sobey’s and picked up this VH Chinese Szechwan sauce. A friend had also given us a big bag of shiitake mushrooms, so they were thrown in the wok as well. (Don’t mind Stella’s “thumb’s up” in the photo … it’s her own personal form of photo bombing these days!)

sobeys and vh sauce

This meal was incredibly simple and quick to make. Just fry up onion and beef (you could substitute beef for any other protein really) in the wok until the beef is cooked through, then throw in vegetables (in this case, I used mushrooms and broccoli), cooked soba noodles, and sauce and stir them around for 5-10 minutes. Serve!

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For dessert, I thought it might be fun to add some of these little plastic horses of the kids to the top of a cake.

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Stella was born in 2002, so she was born in Year of the Horse. Here is how these people are described on the Travel China site:

“People born in the year of the horse have ingenious communicating techniques and in their community they always want to be in the limelight. They are clever, kind to others, and like to join in a venture career. Although they sometimes talk too much, they are cheerful, perceptive, talented, earthy but stubborn.”

Stella does not like to be the center of attention, but she is certainly clever, kind, and (very) talkative! And even though she might not enjoy being in the limelight, we will definitely make a special toast just for her on January 31st.

Resolutions (Not!)

What I love most about the Chinese New Year is that it avoids all of the standard North American chatter about making resolutions (which I am clearly terrible at since I can’t seem to keep them!). Instead, its focus is on expressing thanks for the past 12 months and praying for good fortune in the year ahead.

One Day …

After looking at all of the celebrations for the Chinese New Year, I now want to be able to one day celebrate it in Hong Kong. Not only would Stella be in heaven during the parades filled with traditional dragon costumes (her favourite creature) but I think it would be an amazing experience for the whole family, don’t you?

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Comments

  1. My sister adopted her daughter from China, so we have always tried to acknowledge some of the holidays of her beautiful heritage.

    One thing I enjoy doing for friends who have new babies, is buy a sheet of stamps from Canada Post with their Chinese “Year of the ___”” depicted. they are beautiful stamps and a great keep sake of the year of birth! My best friend is having her first baby (YAAAY!) in April, so will be buying Year of the Horse stamps soon :)

    • I just love the idea of buying the sheet of stamps with the Chinese New Year animal on them! It can be so difficult sometimes to pick something “special” and I just love a keepsake. Very exciting for your friend and her first baby!! :)

      • I got them for both my boys and they really are a special keepsake! and yes, my bff of about 30 years….. first baby at 42.. so excited!!!! and a Year of the Horse like Stella, who, by the way, I think is pretty fantastic…!!!

        • First baby at 42 – wow! That is very exciting! Good for her!

          For my babies, I bought the special coins from Canada Post when they were born. I hadn’t even thought about these special stamps that you mentioned. They are a great idea!

  2. So this is totally picky, but I’m going there anyhow… Since the lunar calendar doesn’t line up with the Western calendar, you can’t actually say “I was born in 2002 so I’m year of the…” because the day of Chinese New Year actually changes each year, and it’s never a Jan 1 correlation. So my son, who was born Feb 1 2002, is actually Year of the Snake, even though Feb 1 in 2014 falls into the “new year”, when he was born in 2002, it was part of the “old year”. Confusing, yes? Websites like this one (http://www.onlineconversion.com/chinese_zodiac.htm) help do the accurate conversion…
    :-)

    • haha! I love that you’re “picky.” Yes, it’s true, just because Stella was born in 2002 doesn’t automatically make her a “horse” and I did use a calculator to figure it out. Also, I figured out what I am too. “Pig” … I think I’d rather be a horse! :)

  3. p.s. don’t feel bad Pig. I am a Rat.

  4. Way to go Chef Julie! How about some fortune cookies to round out the menu? I like using the VH sauces from time to time- so easy and save you having to buy a bunch of different ingredients you would never use again (e.g. oyster sauce!)

    • Thanks neighbour! Oh, fortune cookies are such a good idea … how could I have forgotten those??!! And yes, these VH sauces are so handy (and make the prep for cooking much quicker too!).

  5. Signs are modified by cycles of element, wood, metal, fire, water ad earth depending on which cycle of the 12 animals, and your sign is modulated by which 2 week period of which month, each having the same idea of animal and element, then further modulated by 2 hour period of day. each has its traits, strengths, weaknesses and compatibilities. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/social_customs/zodiac/ and http://www.onlinechineseastrology.com/four-pillars-of-destiny/report.aspx?Guid=00A232D4-A9E5-41A0-9B46-99559817515C
    See, terribly complex.

    To reduce the system to animals is like all the cultures of China being reduced down to a wonton.

    • Oh, absolutely! It goes without saying that this whole is an entirely simplified summary of something I really know very little about (which, to be fair, I did state in the post). But thanks so much for this additional details. I had no idea that the signs were modified by cycles, as well as other factors .. down to the 2 hour period of the day! Interesting!

  6. This looks soooo nice !! I really love those thick noodles. I thought they were udon noodles but I see they are soba. I will have to try them !
    http://myfroley.blogspot.com/

  7. This looks so yummy! And quick and easy to make too – just perfect for my busy family. #client

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