The Chinese New Year arrives February 19th this year and marks the beginning of the Year of the Sheep. This Lunar New Year is celebrated all over the world with fireworks, feasts, parades and cultural events . Our family loves to head to Philadelphia’s Chinatown to take in the festive celebrations, held over several weeks.
To celebrate the Lunar New Year I made Asian-inspired noodle bowls filled with veggies, piping hot broth and tasty mini ginger-garlic meatballs. Reminiscent of the Hot Pot, this meal incorporates several symbolic ingredients for the New Year: long noodles for a long life; ginger and scallions for prosperity and unity; mushrooms for good fortune; meatballs for reunion/unity; cabbage and carrots for prosperity and luck; cashews for gold/money; onions for cleverness. Whoa, let’s hope this soup delivers all it promises! For more good omens in the New Year serve fruit for dessert arranged on a round platter: apples symbolize peace and wisdom, oranges and pineapple, wealth, good fortune and gold, dried apricots, gold and wealth. The round platter symbolizes togetherness. Fresh fruit is the symbol of new life, new beginnings. (www.nationsonline.org)
Planning ahead lets this meal come together quickly with a simple assembly of the components. It can be adapted for a crowd. Essentially you will need a rich broth, meatballs and veggies. Everyone tops their soup with add-ins of their choosing. At the end of the post I will share ideas for setting an Asian-inspired table.
GINGER-GARLIC ASIAN MEATBALLS
1 lb of lean ground turkey or pork
1/4 c hemp or chia seeds( can substitute a slice of bread)
1/4 c of milk
1 egg, beaten
2 T low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 T minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 T chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 t sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch salt and pepper
1- Soak the hemp seeds in the milk for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and form small meatballs.
3- Bake the meatballs on a parchment lined pan for 20 minutes at 375 F. Remove to a platter with a slotted spatula to drain off any cooking liquids.
4- May be made up to 2 days in advance of the soup.
ASIAN NOODLE BOWLS
rice noodles prepared as directed, about 4 oz per person
2 cups of chicken broth per person, piping hot
10 oz sliced mushrooms, sautéed in 1 T sesame oil + 1 T olive oil
shredded cabbage coleslaw, a handful per bowl
1 T chopped cilantro per bowl
1 T scallions, per bowl
Ginger-garlic meatballs, warmed, 6 per bowl
Toppings: lime wedges, hot pepper flakes, soy sauce, chopped peanuts or cashews
NOODLE BOWL ASSEMBLY:
In deep soup bowls, stoveside, layer the cooked noodles with the mushrooms, coleslaw, meatballs, scallions and cilantro. Ladle with piping hot broth to cover. The hot broth will coax the various flavors into perfect harmony. Serve the extra toppings on the table for everyone to help themselves to.
SETTING AN ASIAN-INSPIRED TABLE:
Because we were celebrating Chinese New Year I wanted to bring some Chinese ambiance to our table, eventhough this was a casual weeknight supper. Chinese tassels, chop sticks, porcelain soup spoons, a Chinese fan and some river rocks were gathered to inspire this tablescape. Picking up on the colors of the fan, I used plum serviettes as placemats. Simple beige napkins were tied with the Chinese tassels. Chopsticks rested on river rocks. Everyday cream china was chosen because of the big size of the bowls. Chinese soup spoons were enlisted to hold the extra toppings and placed on a narrow slab of marble, they became table art. The fan was set to the side on a small tripod. In a Chinese enamel bowl I floated a single cream orchid with a purple center, snipped off a houseplant. A couple more orchids were strewn casually on the table. Luminous jade wine glasses completed this setting along with some votives.
Happy Chinese New Year! May the Year of the Sheep be an ausipicious one for you!
(Title photo courtesy of Google Images)