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01.12.2006

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new year, take two 
how to host a Chinese New Year's feast 

by Yee-Fan Sun
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1 2 3 4 5
continued from page 2

the main feature
In my family, Chinese New Year dinner always means one thing: hot pot. It's like the Chinese version of fondue, only instead of a big vat of bubbling cheese, the dish features a gently simmering broth that sits in the center of the dinner table, surrounded by an assortment of meat, veggies and more, that folks can select at will and cook in the communal broth. It's both festive and completely easy on the host, as all the work (mostly just prepping and cutting ingredients) can be done well ahead of mealtime.

Because my boy is the laziest eater in the whole universe, however, and prefers to have his meals ready-cooked and seasoned for him, I sometimes do dumplings instead of hot pot for the big New Year's feast. Dumplings are one of those foods that even the pickiest of eaters seems to adore; you can make them in the traditional meat version, or try an all-veggie alternative that's just as tasty. Get folks over for some communal dumpling-making and making the dumplings becomes almost as fun as eating them.

While an all-dumpling extravaganza is a pretty normal (and well-received) dinner for my family, I know that non-Chinese folks sometimes think of dumplings as appetizers rather than a main course, and consequently find it a little weird not to have any other options or courses at a meal. If you'd like to create a more well-rounded meal, supplement the dumplings with some Chinese soup. Chicken and corn soup is a quick, easy and very delicious favorite; egg drop soup is another good option.

 

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spicy bean sprouts
You can make a no-heat version of this dish by substituting the chile pepper with some red bell pepper.

1 lb. mung bean sprouts, (scraggly roots pinched off)
1 medium-hot red chile pepper
(like a jalapeno or Serrano), sliced in very thin 1" strips
2 stalks scallions
, cut into 2-3" long sections and sliced thinly
tsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
tsp salt
tsp. ground black pepper

serves 6 as a side

Heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok until just sending off wisps. Add scallions and stir; slide in the bean sprouts and half the chile, and stir-fry for a minute or two, just until the sprouts begin to turn translucent. Add the vinegar, sesame oil, salt and pepper and stir well. Turn off heat, taste, and add more chile, salt or other seasonings as necessary.

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