Below, please discover more about the history and context of each of the dishes on China Sichuan’s New Year Menu.
Slow cooked salted duck breast | 鹹 鴨
No Chinese holiday would be complete with some kind of duck, which for many are the ultimate luxury meat. This is a riff on the famous Nanjing salted duck, Nanjing being the duck capital in China much like the Aquitaine is in France. Our duck is packed with salt and herbs and slowly cooked, like a confit.
“Jianbao” pan-fried pork bun | 煎 包
Meat buns with crispy browned bottoms; these are the speciality of our resident “bao bun master” Chef Li Ke. Given that they are labour intensive, these buns are a very occasional treat for staff. However, every New Year, we roll them out (literally) for everyone else to sample.
“Gold & Jade Bliss” steamed spinach & yam roll | 金童玉女
金童玉女, or “Jing tong yu nu” means Golden Boy and Jade Girl. It is also a popular phrase used to describe a romantic couple that is blessed in both looks and life.
“Ma-Lah” cold poached cornfed chicken, Chengdu consommé, Sichuan pepper | 涼拌麻辣雞
Every year, Chef Yang does a version of this spicy, yet subtle, cold chicken dish that he most associates with Chinese New Year with his family.
“Good Fortune” poached jiaozi dumplings, red chili broth | 福餃子
Jiaozi dumplings are necessary New Year’s food for those from the North of China. Their shape Is supposed to invoke a gold ingot. More practically, a Northern Chinese family will gather for a week to make jiaozi, which they will store outside. Because Northern China has sub-zero temperatures, the mountains of jiaozi freeze and can be eaten until spring.
“Longevity Lobster” with clams, langoustine, noodles, homemade XO | 長生龍蝦
Lobsters are popular New Year food, not just because they are delicious, but because their Chinese name, long xia, means dragon shrimp, and dragons are one of the most fortuitous animals in Chinese mythology.
The Chinese believe that noodles, long and uncut, symbolize a long life.
In the South of China, during New Year, one will see much XO, a condiment of dried scallops and cognac, which is truly the Chinese equivalent of caviar.
“Teng Jiao” ribeye beef, rattan pepper, taro | 藤椒牛犁
Teng Jiao are fresh green chilis from Sichuan; they grow on a vine and are floral and hot in flavor. Because this dish is quite rich and spicy, the taro provides a counterpart.
“New Year’s Fish” steamed turbot, ginger, soy | 年年魚
A traditional ending for a Chinese New Year meal, in many Chinese regions. There is a saying, 年年有餘 (nian nian you yu) which wishes a surplus of fortune for the next year. The word for surplus, 餘 (yu) is a pun for the Chinese word for fish 魚 (yu). The fish must be served whole, at the end of the meal, with the head facing the persion who is most senior. That person must be served fish first, and when the first side of the fish is consumed, the fish cannot be flipped. This means bad luck for fishermen, signifying a boat that is overturned. Instead, the skeleton is removed, and everyone continues to eat.
Sautéed chinese vegetables | 清炒青菜
Fujian fried rice | 福建炒飯
Fried rice from the hometown of Chef Nick Wang, light and sweet and laced with vegetables and charcuterie.
“The Rémy” dark chocolate, sesame, ginger, cognac | 巧克力雷米
Chef Karen Smith’s sweet tribute to the rat!