February 19, 2015 marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year – this year we’re celebrating the Year of the Sheep and my family is preparing to celebrate at home like we normally do.
The crowds at the restaurants are just too crazy to deal with.
If you’ve ever been to a Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year party you know that it is centred around food and family. It’s non stop eating all day, several days in a row.
Eat with your grandparents, your parents, siblings, your immediate family, friends, aunts, uncles and cousins. I feel as though the entire month of February is spent eating. Valentine’s Day and then Chinese New Year. Thank goodness it’s a short month! 😉
One of the dishes I’m planning on making for Chinese New Year at home is Stir Fried Sticky Rice Cake (Nian Gao).
The shape of these noodles resemble coins and it’s believed that eating brings prosperity in the coming year.
My kids love the stir fried sticky rice cake they’ve tried in restaurants and they refer to it as “Chinese Bubble Gum” – it has a sticky chewy consistency like gum but tastes like rice noodles.
You can find these rice cake noodles in dried or frozen form at Loblaw, T&T, Real Canadian Superstore or No Frills. I found this frozen pack in the refrigerated section near the dumplings – another traditional Lunar New Year food.
The stir fried sticky rice cake doesn’t require a ton of prep besides some simple knife work and soaking the mushrooms for half an hour in water.
Salted mustard greens or napa cabbage is typically used in this dish but I had some leftover baby spinach and Chinese vegetables in the fridge I chopped them up for the dish.
I also soaked 5 dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water an hour before I was ready to cook and sliced them into bit sized pieces.
Chicken breast is stir fried until almost cooked through and mushrooms, vegetables are added along with soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and a pinch of sugar. Toss well to distribute the sauce.
Nian Gao is served family style as a pasta dish and can be split between three or four people.
Stir Fried Chinese Rice Cake Pasta (Nian Gao)
Servings: 3 to 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes (with up to one hour to soak the mushrooms)
Cook Time: 10 minutes
*Adapted from Stephanie Yuen’s recipe for Loblaw Companies Limited. The original recipe calls for bell peppers, beans and ginger. I omitted these items as my kids don’t like peppers and ginger in their food and substituted with leafy vegetables I had leftover in the fridge. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand as the rice cakes can go with almost anything.
1.5 pound frozen rice cake (you can find them in the dried noodle section or the freezer section near the dumplings)
4 – 5 T&T dried shiitake mushrooms
1 pound meat – chicken or pork
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 cup shredded or finely cut vegetables – spinach, mustard greens, napa cabbage. beans, bell peppers all work well
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon T&T terkiyaki sauce
1 tablespoon T&T soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
1. Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in water until softened – approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
2. Remove the mushroom stems and cut caps into bite size pieces.
3. Cut meat into thin strips of bite size pieces.
4. In a large pan or wok, heat oil on high. Add garlic and stir for a few seconds. Add in meat and stir until almost cooked through.
5. Add mushrooms and vegetables and stir for 1 minute.
6. Empty package of rice cakes into pan.
7. Add teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and sugar and toss so everything gets coated evenly.
8. Pour 1/2 cup mushroom water into pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer in covered pan/wok for 4 to 5 minutes until rice noodle is softened – a little more cooked than al dente (similar to chewing gum).
9. Taste and add additional soy or teriyaki sauce if needed. Serve immediately.
*Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Loblaw where you can find all the above ingredients, sweets and decor to make your Chinese New Year celebration at home a hit. As always, all opinions are my own.