29 Mar / One-Year Book Birthday Festive Menu
Food plays a very big role in celebrations across many Asian cultures. Whether it’s Lunar New Year, a birthday, Christmas, or a promotion at work, food–festive food–tends to be at the center of any get-together. Plus, the dishes served tend to have special meaning.
Since I’m the product of several food-obsessed cultures—Chinese, Singaporean and Indonesian—food has literally taken over my life!
To celebrate Farm to Table Asian Secrets‘ first book birthday, I came up with a festive menu. Some recipes are already on my blog, some are new. But all play a huge part in making any celebration festive.
Don’t forget to take part in my Instagram giveaway with 2 cookbooks, gourmet fish sauce and organic red curry paste up for grabs!
Long life noodles are a must at birthdays and at Chinese New Year because they symbolize long life. The longer the better! Just don’t cut them, or you’ll be cutting short your life!
Shrimp has a lot going for it in the festive and lucky department. When cooked it turns pinkish-red (red is a lucky color), and it’s a symbol of happiness and good fortune because the Cantonese word ‘ha’ for the crustacean sounds like laughter. When I was growing up, shrimp was also expensive and considered a luxury ingredient. Hence it was only eaten on special occasions.
A whole bird–usually with head and feet attached but no worries if you can’t find it–symbolizes prosperity and togetherness. Glazing with a honey-vinegar mixture and roasting gives the chicken’s pale skin a hint of color as well as another level of flavor.
This may seem like a very simple homestyle dish but eggs are a symbol of fertility (who doesn’t want lots of kids?) and tomatoes are red (lucky color!) and festive.
Indonesian nasi tumpeng is festive and grand on many levels–the bright colors, the sheer amount of food, and the elaborate prep that goes into it. The foundation of nasi tumpeng is fragrant yellow rice. The height of the cone symbolizes the greatness of Allah or God, and the food at the base of the cone symbolizes nature’s abundance. The yellow tinge in the rice symbolizes wealth and high morals.
6.. Stir-fried Carrot and Zucchini with Turmeric and Egg
(From Farm to Table Asian Secrets)
Bright, festive colors fit right in to any celebratory meal. And this dish is a prime example. Furthermore, orange carrots with a golden hue similar to copper pennies, are thought to be very lucky (as an aside: toss carrots with honey for added sweetness). The green zucchini represents the green of money, implying prosperity. Turmeric is golden yellow, and gold equals wealth right? Add the eggs, and this dish has it all!
Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 2 servings
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1⁄2 cup shallot or red onion, roughly chopped
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 medium sized carrots, cut into match sticks
- 1 medium sized zucchini, cut into matchsticks
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 green onions, green parts only, chopped
- Handful cilantro or celery leaves for garnish
- Swirl the oil into a large wok or nonstick skillet and set over medium-high heat until simmering hot. Add the garlic and shallots, followed by the turmeric.
- Stir and cook until the paste is fragrant and darkens in color, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the carrots and zucchini and toss to coat with the paste. Stir and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pour the egg over the vegetables slowly and cook undisturbed until it starts to set, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Break up the egg into large curds and mix into the vegetables.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir and cook until the vegetables are cooked to your liking.
- Stir in the green onions and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary and scoop into a serving bowl. Top with celery leaves and serve hot with steamed rice. Enjoy!