This weekend marks the second new moon since the winter solstice, which means it's the start of a new lunar year. So we’re ushering in this new phase with a menu full of our favorite Asian foods thought to bring luck and prosperity.
Mel’s been busy perfecting her char siu, and she’s finally ready to share it!! This Chinese-style bbq pork collar is marinated, sous-vide, and fully cooked. Heat it in the (toaster) oven and shellac it with the accompanying glaze until it’s irresistibly caramelized. Slice and serve it with some produce box greens and koshihikari rice, or build a fried rice or noodle stir fry around it. Mel’s also stuffing some of the char siu in balls of milk bread dough for a batch of bbq pork buns. Like their kimchi cousins, you could polish a bun off in the car after picking up your farm box stuff. If they make it home, be prepared to share.
No lunar new year or freezer should be without dumplings, so we’re making the trek to Hui Tou Xiang dumpling workshop in San Gabriel to get handmade vegetable dumplings, pork xiao long bao (soup) dumplings, chicken pot stickers, and Hong Kong-style pork and shrimp wontons. And we’re restocking our supply of Gimmedat’s chili crisp since bbq pork buns and dumplings are the perfect conduits for our favorite condiment.
No matter how severe the weather is, we can still enjoy summer rolls all year round. So we’ve figured out the fixings to make Vietnamese-style fresh rolls at home. Dry sheets of rice paper just need to be dipped in water to become pliable. Fill them with lettuce, herbs, and shrimp cake, Mel’s version of chao tom, a Vietnamese-style shrimp paste that will come fully cooked and ready to be sliced. And dip your rolls in nuoc cham, the essential Vietnamese condiment made from fish sauce, chili, garlic, vinegar, and sugar. Or you could use the nuoc cham to dress a bowl of vermicelli rice noodles topped with shrimp cake, char siu or tofu, herbs, pickled carrots, daikon, and crispy fried shallots. After all, eating long noodles for longevity is a lunar New Year tradition.
We also love fried rolls wrapped in lettuce and dipped in nuoc cham, so we asked our friend and chef of Petite Peso, Ria Dolly Barbosa, to make us some. Her frozen lumpia (little Filipino egg rolls) are filled with seasoned ground chicken and tightly rolled in a thin wrapper that’s crispy when fried. They're also thought to bring luck since their shape resembles gold bars.
And the folk at Forage are making a batch of chicken bone broth with ginger. You can sip on it as is or cook rice in it. I will probably use it as a base for a wonton soup and add greens from the box as well as spoonfuls of Meiji’s supreme silken tofu. We also have Meiji’s firm block tofu and ora king salmon.
On our trips to Gardena to pick up the Meiji tofu, we discovered Kansha Creamery, a family-run ice cream shop dedicated to sourcing local, organic ingredients whenever possible and donating a portion of their profits. (Read more about Kansha’s business model here.) We love their Aoi premium matcha ice cream.
And if you want to make it a sundae, we’ve got handmade mochi bits from Fugetsu-Do, a family-owned and operated Japanese confectionary store in Little Tokyo since 1903. These bits of glutinous rice cake are similar to what you might find at a frozen yogurt shop but much fresher! And although mochi is eaten all year round, it’s a traditional food for the Japanese new year. Finally, to drizzle over it all, Mel is making a batch of hot fudge with Strauss dairy and Valhrona chocolate.
And of course there will be citrus, a fruit of Asian origins and Californian abundance, which is a traditional new year's gift. A gesture of love, and symbol of wholeness.