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January 20, 2009

Ming Tsai’s Guide to a Chinese New Year Party

red chinese new year lanterns

Photo Credit: Lisa Klumpp/iStock

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The Party
The Chinese New Year festival runs for 15 days in January and/or February, beginning with the first day of the new moon of the year. It’s a perfect time to have people over for a homemade Chinese banquet — and Ming Tsai’s step-by-step recipes make it all deliciously doable. From the food to the decor, the holiday is all about symbols. Red and gold bring a year of happiness and good fortune. A round table represents wholeness, and so does Ming’s food — from whole fish and chicken to plump pot stickers and an easy dessert cleverly designed to look like a whole orange.

The Food
Begin with a round of ginger cocktails, accompanied by the pot stickers. Next make the oysters, get the fish steaming, invite guests to the table, and serve the meal family-style, in courses. Start with the oysters in their lettuce cups, served on a big platter. Then bring on the fish, along with individual bowls of rice for each guest, followed by the chicken. Finish the meal with the granita, along with tea and after-dinner drinks.

The Mood
Buy decorated red envelopes at a Chinese stationery or gift store, or use red paper and a gold marker to make your own. They are traditionally used for giving money, but Ming suggests putting a raffle ticket in each envelope and having a drawing for some fun gifts at the end of the meal. You can even write guests’ names on the envelopes and use them as place cards. Tangerines or oranges are also traditional. For instant mood setting, use gold chargers under plates, and hang strings of red lanterns. Ming also likes to use a banana leaf as a natural table runner.

Easy Extras
Along with predinner drinks, serve Ming’s easy Asian trail mix, made by combining equal parts wasabi peas, smoked almonds, and dried cranberries. Buy some fortune cookies to serve with dessert, and tuck an extra message that fits the occasion into each cookie.

Ming’s Playlist
Hiroshima, Obon
Van Morrison, Moondance
Traffic, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Bob Marley & the Wailers, Kaya
Jack Johnson, On and On

Click forward to Page 2 for recipes!

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