Lions are a Chinese symbol for joy and happiness. The lion's head meatball is traditionally pretty large maybe baseball sized. I went with golf ball so I could fit three of them into the box. The greens represent the lion's mane. It's a really tasty braised pork meatball that is first seared and finished with the bok choi over the top of the meatball to steam down for the final cooking process. Lion dances and Dragon dances are a prominent tradition with Chinese New Year. Loud fire crackers and red paper were discovered to be the bane of the "Nian" monster that would yearly terrorize the ancient Chinese hence the performances and red signs everywhere to chase away the Nian.
So for New Years you must always eat Noodles to represent wishes for a long life. Not much in the way of naming creativity, simply "Long Life Noodles" the soup/sauce consists a simple soy chicken broth with egg flowers (eggs symbolize fertility to go with your long life). I added a bit of ham for flavor and some green onions. This is a very simple dish definitely a good one to have if you've done a bit too much ringing in the new year. Chinese New Year is usually celebrated over several days each day performing a different ritual from remembering your ancesters to celebrating the various Chinese deities.
Black Tea Marbled Eggs - again eggs for fertility. Usually there the eggs are of darker color when cracked open (left egg) I should have exposed more cracks per egg so I think I failed a bit on this recipe (it's only the first time I've attempted this one.) Next time more tea and soy sauce and probably a bit more time steeping.
Nian Gao with Sweet Azuki bean. Nian Gao has a double meaning as the words also sound like Yearly higher or wishing you great achievements in the new year. This is one of my Mom's favorite dishes to cook for the New Year, it's very unusual to the American palatte. It's got a sticky mochi type texture, sweet soft azuki bean and topped with a crunch crust of sesame and coconut. My mom uses soy milk instead of real milk and that flavor really comes thru on the dish. It's not terribly sweet and probably goes well with a bit of hot tea.
Really simple bento this week. I'm going to try to get back into the regular tempo, but I'm afraid some upcoming work travel will interrupt me. I'll do what I can. In the meantime thanks for stopping by.
- Lions Head Meatball
- Long Life Noodles
- Black Tea Marbled Egg
- Nian Gao with Sweet Azuki Bean