When I was about 25, I threw my first Chinese New Year dinner party, inviting friends to our New York apartment. I’m not of Chinese heritage, and Steve, who is, didn’t have a tradition of celebrating Chinese New Year, having lost some of the customs along the way as a fourth-generation Chinese-American.
Gathering recipes from cookbooks, I put together an ambitious, multi-course meal that thrilled my friends. But I was exhausted by the effort of trying to get all the dishes – most of which I had never cooked before – to the table in a timely manner.
Tonight is Chinese New Year’s Eve, heralding the Year of the Dragon, a celebration that lasts for 15 days. If you’d like to cook some Chinese dishes to mark the New Year, here are some recipes from Special Fork’s database to try. Unlike the dishes I attempted in New York, none take more than 30 minutes of prep time. Make several dishes for a party.
- Hot and Sour Scallop Soup should be made just before serving to keep scallops tender. Just prep everything in advance; it takes about 5 minutes to cook.
- Chinese Scallion Pancakes, a recipe from Andrew Hunter, is effortless to make. Flour tortillas streamline this recipe.
- Apricot Spare Ribs is an easy dish that roasts unattended in the oven so you can work on a stir-fry or attend to other last-minute duties before guests arrive.
- Steeped Chicken just sits in hot water to cook until it’s plump and juicy, leaving you plenty of time to make the zesty sauce.
- Chicken Asparagus and Mushroom Stir-Fry is a basic stir-fry recipe by Joy Liao with a video tutorial.
- Pork Fried Noodles from Andrew Hunter is a simple stir-fry of noodles, Chinese BBQ pork and bok choy. You may need to take a trip to Chinatown or a Chinese market or deli to pick up some of the ingredients.
- Grapefruit Segments with Anise-Flavored Syrup by Lori Powell isn’t a Chinese recipe but is the perfect, refreshing finale to a Chinese meal.
If you plan to cook several dishes, remember:
- Don’t try to do too many dishes that require last-minute cooking. Plan a menu that includes a diversity of cooking methods: steamed, baked or roasted, simmered, stir-fried. This will make it easier to orchestrate getting the dishes out on time.
- Select recipes with different proteins – chicken, pork, beef, seafood or lamb—for variety.
And, before you start on your Chinese dinner, remember to season your wok. Katie Barreira offers helpful instructions.
For more on putting together a Chinese feast, check out Special Fork food editor Linda Anusasananan’s cooking tips.
Finally, if you’re in San Francisco on February 11, don’t miss the colorful and exciting Chinese New Year parade, the largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia.
Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.