Como na cultura ocidental, o Ano Novo é um momento de comemoração e de receber convidados, por isso a comida tem um papel importante nessa data. Numa festa de Ano Novo chinês são servidos diversos pratos, já que o costume é ter tantos pratos quanto o número de convidados. Os pratos são preparados pelo seu simbolismo e para trazer boa sorte para quem os come. Oferecer doces, por exemplo, é uma maneira de expressar que você deseja uma vida doce e sem problemas para seus convidados. Nian Gao, um bolinho de arroz com folhas de Lotus feito no vapor, traz uma carreira bem sucedida e muita prosperidade. Os dumplings chamados Jiaozi representam a progressão dos anos. Eles podem ser recheados com um pedaço de açúcar, uma moeda, um amendoim, uma castanha e cada um traz um significado. Mordeu algo
doce? A felicidade vai bater na sua porta! Mordeu uma moeda? A sorte vai sorrir pra voc ê! Se for uma castanha, logo terá um filho homem! E se encontrar um amendoim, vai viver muito!
Chinese New Year is approaching. Its specific date changes each year, as it falls on the first day of the lunar calendar (which is the first day of the new year containing a new moon). In 2011, that will be on February 3rd and this is the year of the Rabbit. New year ends on the Lantern Festival, fourteen days later.
According to legend, in Ancient China, Nian was a man-eating beast, which came out every 12 months somewhere close to winter to prey on humans. The people later believed that the Nian was sensitive to loud noises and the colour red. These customs led to the New Year celebrations. And In fact, Nian means "year" in modern Chinese.
As in Western countries, New Year is a time to receive guests and food plays an important role. Most of the dishes are prepared for their symbolism and to bring good luck to the assembled guests. There may be a multitude of dishes prepared for Chinese New Year's dinner. Custom dictates that someone should serve as many dishes as there are guests. I like this idea! Offering sweets, for example, is a way of expressing a wish for a sweet life and a year without troubles. Nian gao, a sticky rice cake steamed in lotus leaves, evokes a successful career and prosperity down the road. The dumplings, known as “jiaozi” in chinese represent the progression of the years. They are filled, then boiled or steamed. The dumplings can contain a piece of sugar, a coin, a peanut or a chestnut, each signifying a different omen. Did you just bite into a sweet dumpling? Happiness will be knocking at your door. Did it contain a coin? Luck will smile on you. Is it stuffed with a chestnut? You'll soon have a boy. Is it filled with peanuts? That's a sign of longevity... and I feel like eating all of those dumplings!
Here in Sao Paulo it's hard to find fresh fish on the first days of the year. I guess it's vacation time for the fishermen and that's more than ok because we can prepare delicious cured herring!
Herring is the name given to any of various sea fish of the family Clupeidae. The oily fish rich in Omega-3 and vitamin D is found in shallow, temperate waters of North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans. Herring has been a staple food source since at least 3000 B.C. In Europe the fish has been euphemistically called the "silver of the sea", and its trade has been so significant to many countries that it has been regarded as the most commercially important fishery in history.
Fresh herring can be eaten raw, cooked, fermented, pickled or cured by other techniques. Pickled herring is a delicacy in Europe, and has become a part of Baltic, Scandinavian, German, Eastern Slavic and Jewish cuisine. Most cured herring uses a two-step curing process. Initially, herring is cured with salt to extract water. The second stage involves removing the salt and adding flavorings, typically a vinegar, salt, sugar solution to which ingredients like peppercorn, bay leaves and raw onions are added. Sherry, mustard and dill are also some of the traditional flavorings in Denmark, Sweden and Germany.
That's the recipe we do at home that I adapted here to become an appetizer:
Herring Hors d'oeuvre:
(For 20 pieces)
2 fillets salted herring
1 cup olive oil
½ onion, sliced
10 black peppercorns
3 slices dark bread
1/4 cup sour cream
chives for decoration
Place the herring in a bowl and cover with cold water, let in the fridge for 30 minutes, throw the water out and repeat the operation for 3 more times.
Cut the fillets into pieces and place them in a glass jar with the olive oil, sliced onion and peppercorns. Let it marinate for at least 24hours.
Cut the bread with a cookie cutter, spread sour cream and top with a piece of herring, a slice of onion and decorate with chives.