January 22, 2012

What is your first dish for first day of Chinese Lunar New Year?

My son asked me what to cook for first day of Chinese New Year?

What is your answer? The Foochow would answer : Mee Sua and Chicken Soup

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Mee Sua and Chicken Soup (Photo by Kate Chang)



There are so many dishes we can choose from...but I think I will do this dish....make jiaozi for the first day of Chinese New Year..(although it is not a Foochow custom.) There is a lot of fun doing this together with family and friends. And the great satisfaction lies in the eating at the end of a fun time.


This is a photo from my friend Sunflower Food Galore  Blog...

And there is a lovely story to go with it too.....
Dumplings for the New Year's Day
In China, people have a custom to stay up at the New Year's Eve till midnight, and then the well-prepared food, Jiaozi in Chinese, or the so called dumpling, is served as soon as it is cooked in the boiling water.
Jiaozi is perhaps the most especial food in people's life. First, it is served at a particular time, right after the midnight. Second, it is served barely with only some garlic-soy sauce. Third, usually a coin is hidden in one of the dumplings. The person who find or bite the coin will be the luckiest one in the new year. But that has been tested to work even more efficiently on break away the poor teeth of an old man. My grandpa was once lucky enough to bite the coin in one of the dumplings. The moment he became the lucky winner, the only tooth he had said good-bye to him. Perhaps he had no pity despite that for he was supposed to be the luckiest one that year in our family. Nevertheless, it has been the custom to have dumplings for the breakfast at the New Year's Day.
It's hard to say when the custom began, but there are many tales telling how it began. One of them said it got spread from a poor farmer's family. One year, terrible famine took place and many people died of hunger. It was the New Year's Eve when the farmer's family had nothing to cook. And they were even out of firewood. All the family members were too hungry to fall asleep at the New Year's Eve. Just when they thought hard in vain, there came the sound of drum telling the high point of a new year had come. And at the moment both the daughter-in-laws hinted to each other to make a joke over their husbands' poor father; so the elder daughter-in-law said first to him, "Father, what shall we have for the first meal of the new year?" The old man was quite ready to answer, "gold cornu." "And what shall we have to burn in order to boil the GOLD cornu?" the younger daughter-in-law asked. "Of course, gold bars." That was the answers of the humorous father. But he wouldn't stop the joke here. So he ordered the two daughter-in-laws: "Go and cook by the recipe I just ordered, would you?" This time both the daughter-in-laws were cornered badly. How could they cook such a meal! Finally they thought of an idea. "Well, I'll wipe off what is left in the flour jar and you have to get some frozen vegetables in the garden. So they managed to make some cornu-like food. "But what about firewood?" the other asked worriedly. "That is easy. Parts of the fence in the garden will do." So the first breakfast of the year was being made like that.
The god in charge of treasure happened to see the poor but interesting family, and he felt sorry for them. So he dropped some real gold cornua into their jar and some real gold bars over the firewood secretly. As soon as the able women found the treasure, they cried out happily, which caused all the neighbors to come to see what was happening. When people heard the whole story, they all came to recognize it was the cornu-like dumplings that brought the gold. So people began to do the same as the family for the first meal of a new year as early as they could intending to catch more opportunity for treasure from Heaven. That is perhaps the reason why Chinese people show more interest in having Jiaozi at the New Year's Day.


20 comments:

wenn said...

fish is a must for me..Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Sunflower said...

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Overhere is not a holiday, it's just another working day. Nevermind. My memory of CNY with the family back home is zai cai (vegetarian dish) and fried nian gao (steamed rice cake) for breakfast on day 1.

Think I might make some jiaozi tonight.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Wenn....Hope Ipoh has the best fish for you and family!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Sunflower...Hope I can visit some relatives tomorrow ....thanks for the photo...and I do like making jiaozi....

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarawakiana,

Do u remember moon cake in the old days with unhusked water melon seeds in the filling? Wonder where the seeds come from. My friend told me that they employed old grandmother with nothing to do to unhusked the water melon seeds!!

is that true? And pray tell me!!

Ann said...

CY,

This is the 3rd attempt at posting.

In my parents home, we eat left over food from the NY eve's dinner. Of course we have TAI BA, plenty , or YOU YU according to the Foochows.No slaughtering of animals, and minimal cooking.

stop here and do another post.

Ann said...

CY, Try this time.

In my MIL's house, she and SIL cook up a cauldron of vegetarian food, red dates, dried Foo Chook/ bean curd sheet, vermiccili, Fatt Choi, chinese cabbage, lily flowers, canned peas, etc. Eaten with white rice and tasted with Foo Yung, preserved toufo cubes. No onions, garlics , oil,or chilli. After many year, the MIL senses the unfilial DIL from Sibu wasn't enjoying eating this food. She tells her, please do go to the fridge and take the left overs.

In the half past six Chinese home, CNY food is KOSONG.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Anonymous..what an interesting way of explaining the "milled water melon seeds". In those days it was be very difficult to find a grandmother with good teeth!! Now tell me if this was a "old cannon story"!! But it was a great joker who started the tale..Nice..Mr. Hedge and all my friends will like this story!! Thanks...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...lots of people are complaining about uploading comments this year..William Ting has problem uploading his photos on to his blog...I am sure the Cantonese in Sibu had their special dishes..I remember my father used to say how good Cantonese Siu York (open roasted pig) was!! That I remember but never had...Foochows chop up their pig..and I love on dish called Big Mixed Pork (Chak Hui) which I tasted in China only very recently...

Autumn Belle said...

Happy Chinese New Year to you and family. The food we have for CNY day 1 is vegetarian dishes.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

The third day is for vegetarian food usually in Miri...and I think on the 7th day some families also cook 7 different kinds of vegetables...Some Chinese families have all these kinds of menus to bring in good luck and to be at peace with the Earth...I would like to research into these practices if some one could tell me...
I like that..Go to the fridge!! and Kosong!! Hahahaha You have the golden heart of a child...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Autumn Belle..thanks for visiting!! Foochows do not observe eating of vegetarian dishes..but Hakkas and Cantonese do. What dialect group are you? I would really like to know the origin of the vegetarian dishes for Chinese New Year.

Gong Xi Fa Cai..Nien Nien Yu Yi.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Sarawakania, Here's wishing you and family all the very best of the Dragon year.
Gong xi fa cai and all best wishes.

With regards to food, I love all traditional Nyonya CNY dishes....and glad even though my wife is not a nyonya, she has learned to cook these dishes as good or not better than a Nyonya too.
You have a great new year.
Stay young and keep a song in your heart.
Lee.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Uncle Lee...it is 10.06 here in Malaysia now..and your Lunar New Year should be arriving any time now? Enjoy your great dinner...

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Sarawakiana,

So was the melon seeds actually milled? And not done by lau ah ma who is also boh su choh!!????

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Anonymous...I would think your legs got pulled by some joker!! Anyway...that's really a good tale...

Ann said...

Cy, my uncles roasted their whole pig in a oil barrel, but I was told the skin is not crispy.

I think that little Grandma spotting out Pumkin seeds were a figment of some Ang mp's imagination. I read that too in Reader's digest.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...The original Cantonese roasted pig does not have a crispy skin like today's suckling pig 9which is smaller and with thinner skin..) but I must I say I have tasted the original recipe..and it was excellent..
The story of Grandma cracking pumpkin seeds for the making of mooncakes will always be around...I will tell it this year!! And my usual partner in making mooncakes is a Cantonese..but we normally use pine nuts...or shall I go and ask a grandma to crack the black qua zi....and have photos taken???? hahahaha

Ann said...

I don't know, someone commented my uncle's roast pig wasn't up to standard, the skin not BOK BOK BOK.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Not crok crok or kelok kelok
(smile)...