Today marks the celebration of Chinese New Year, the most grand holiday on the Chinese calendar. 2015 is the Year of the Sheep (or goat or ram, depending upon the source). If you were born in 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, or 2003, tradition suggests this will be a lucky year for you!
Chinese celebrations are famous for their traditional foods, and Chinese New Year feasts are laden with an amazing variety of dishes. Feasts may vary from village to village, but will always, always include noodles. Long noodles are said to represent long life, and must never be cut! Great care should be taken to cook and eat the noodles whole.
While I cannot claim any Chinese heritage, I see Chinese New Year as an opportunity to sample wonderful new (to me) foods and learn a bit more about the almost indescribably rich cultural history of China. In that spirit, we are making Chinese New Year Noodles today. I hope you enjoy them!
1 package rice vermicelli noodles (8 ounces dry)
1 cup snow pea pods, sliced into matchsticks
1 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon (more or less to taste) chili paste, such as Nam Prik Pao
Step 2) While noodles are cooking, use a fork to “whisk” together the peanut butter and vinegar. This will look like a gloppy mess for the first minute or two, but just keep mixing… soon the mixture will be smooth and uniform.
Step 3) Stir the sugar, soy sauce, and chili paste into the peanut butter mixture. The end result should have a consistency like salad dressing. If the mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon of water.
Step 4) Gently mix together the cooked noodles, vegetables, and sauce. That’s it! For a heartier dish, top with a few cooked shrimp or pieces of cooked, cubed chicken.
Happy Chinese New Year!