The holidays are an amazing time of year filled with festive fun and feasting. Living in China, we have the great honor of residing in a place that is a melting pot of cultures. While not everyone celebrates Christmas or the handful of other seasonal celebrations that coexist this time of year, everyone celebrates the arrival of a new year, albeit at different times due to the solar and lunar calendars.
With this, we wanted to explore the dishes that make these family-oriented holidays homely and warm, and what better way to do so than ask an international team of food lovers like your beijingkids editorial team? Hailing from three continents, we present to you what our ragtag group of editors crave most come New Year’s Day!
Miss Lacey’s Black–eyed Peas
Every New Year’s Day, without fail, this would be served in my house. I had to check out why, because the reasons had never really been explained to me. Through doing a bit of research, I came to the discovery that the reason dates back to the American Civil War. At that time, black-eyed peas were primarily used as animal feed. On January 1, 1863, The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect and the only items that the freed American slaves had to celebrate with were black-eyed peas. From then on, on every New Year’s Day these peas were eaten. Also, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as General Sherman’s troops destroyed or stole other crops during their famous raid, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source during that time.
– 3 cups of dried black-eyed peas
– 4 Italian sausages
– 1 onion
– 4 cups of beef broth (homemade is best)
– 5 cups of spinach
– 3 cups of cooked rice
– Chopped baked ham to taste
1. Soak three cups of dried black-eyed peas overnight.
2. Brown your sausages and remove from sauté pan to drain.
3. Remove most of the grease and sauté a diced onion.
4. Put peas in with a box of beef broth, then let it simmer with the meat back in.
5. Once the peas are about ready, add spinach and chopped ham, then let it cook on low for about 10 minutes.
6. Mix in about three cups of cooked rice, and take off the stove and cover.
7. Finally, top with some Tabasco Sauce and serve with sweet cornbread.
Holiday Fiesta Fruit Salad
Our media noche or New Year’s Eve dinner in the Philippines is always very festive and full of tradition. While media noche means “midnight” in Spanish, many of the indulgent dishes served on our holiday table are influenced by Chinese customs, such as having noodles for long life, sticky desserts for closer family ties, and 12 round fruits for wealth in the upcoming 12 months.
These round fruits brighten up our dinner table, but my mom makes a separate dessert – a fruit salad – because she knows I and my siblings gobble up New Year’s Eve dishes even before midnight! Her recipe is very easy to do, so it’s something that I always have every New Year’s Eve to make me feel home.
– 2 cans of fruit cocktail
– 1 cup lemon juice
– 200g cheddar cheese, diced
– Bananas and apples, sliced into thin pieces
– 200g coconut meat, shredded
– 250g seedless grapes
– 2 cans of condensed milk
1. Drain the fruit cocktail and set aside its juice. Put all contents into a large bowl. While we don’t need the cocktail syrup, you can add water and drink it.
2. Slice the fruits of your choice into thin pieces and add them into the bowl. The more circular the fruits, the better! For the coconut meat, I used a special shredder to slice it into spaghetti-like strands, but you can also use a blender.
3. Dice 200g of cheddar cheese. After that, squeeze two lemons to get their juice.
4. Add the condensed milk to the fruit cocktail, and then the lemon juice, and finally, the cheese cubes. Mix them until all fruits are coated with milk.
5. Refrigerate it for at least two hours. It’s best served chilled!
Pearl Meatballs with Sticky Rice (珍珠糯米丸子)
Pearl meatballs are one of the staple foods for Chinese New Year in South China provinces such as Jiangxi, Hubei, and Hunan. It got the name because the sticky rice resembles small pearls after being steamed into near transparency. Just like 汤圆 (tang yuan, a type of traditional food for Lantern Festival), pearl meatballs also signify union and happiness.
Featuring meatballs soaked in savory juice from the seasonings, this dish is not only a feast for the eyes but for the taste buds as well.
– Short-grain glutinous rice
– Chopped ground pork (the meat should not be too lean, ideally 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat), or you could use chicken breast for healthier meatballs
– Chopped mushrooms
– Sesame oil
– Sea salt
– Minced scallions
– Minced ginger
1. Soak the glutinous rice in a bowl for about two hours. Then drain, and discard the excess water.
2. Combine the ground meat, a pinch of cornstarch to make it sticky, a few drops of sesame oil, chopped mushroom, minced scallions and ginger, and sea salt for seasoning. Stir it until it becomes cohesive.
3. Use a tablespoon to form a meatball, and coat the meatball with glutinous rice, rolling with your palms to make sure the rice sticks well and evenly.
4. Using a steamer, or a pot with steamer, steam for about 20-25 min (the duration should be adjusted according to the size of your meatballs).
5. You can also make a plate of dip for the meatballs with some soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and cilantro. to give them more flavor. Time to serve and slurp up!
Candied Pecan Chocolate Brownies
Everyone loves brownies, and in my family, we like to liven it up by throwing marshmallows and candied pecans into a traditional brownie mix.
For New Year dinner parties, these delicious brownies can be cut into bite-sized morsels, and served with a sprinkle of chocolate covered sesame seeds and whole pecans for decoration and added bite! Or why not cozy up with someone this New Year and partner your brownies with a cup of steaming hot chocolate! Yum!
New Year’s just isn’t the same without something chocolate flavored, gooey and oh-so-simple to make.
– 1/2 cup of butter
– 1 cup of white sugar
– 2 eggs
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
– 1/2 cup crushed candied pecans (Honey glazed works)
– 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 cup marshmallows
– 1/2 cup chocolate covered sesame seeds
– 1/2 cup candied pecans
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Celsius and grease an 8-inch square pan.
2. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup of butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla or the inside of 1 vanilla pod.
3. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, crushed pecans, marshmallows, and baking powder.
4. Spread batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes on 180 degrees. Do not overcook. The surface should be a little bouncy when light pressure is applied.
6. Leave to cool before cutting with a clean, sharp knife. Then sprinkle chocolate covered sesame seeds and pecans over brownies and serve!
This article first appeared in the beijingkids December 2018 Charity and Goodwill issue.
Photos: Uni You, Kipp Whittaker, Lens Studio