This year the 2016 Chinese New Year falls on February 8th and is the Year of the Monkey. Also known as the Spring Festival, this years celebration will last from February 7-13 based on the Chinese lunar calendar. The Chinese calendar repeats a 12-year cycle, each cycle characterized by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.
The Chinese New Year is rich in traditions and customs going back thousands of years a time to honor ancestors and deities. Families gather together for a traditional meal and clean house to make way for a prosperous year and to bring in good luck.
While growing up I loved getting together with my aunts, uncles, and cousins for a New Years feast, and a tradition involving the kids receiving money from the elders of my family. We would bow before them wishing them a blessed year. Then the adults would hand us money. It is a tradition we continue today with my children, and now they look forward to it. Many Asian cultures participate in this tradition of giving money to young children in red paper envelopes.
One of the most common foods to enjoy during the New Year festival are dumplings called Jiaozi. Similar to wontons, Jiaozis have a thicker dough wrapper. Traditionally made with ground meat and vegetables, Jiaozis can be deep fried, steamed, or boiled. As a kid I remember making these as a family, and I still have wonderful memories of the fun we had making odd shaped dumplings for the sake of being silly.
Today I have an easy recipe for Pork and Cabbage Jiaozis. Most of these ingredients can be purchased at your local supermarket in the produce and meat departments or the Asian section. If your market does not carry Napa cabbage, regular green cabbage will do.
Happy Lunar New Year!