By Cheryl Giraud
Special to the Observer 

The Recipe Spot


February 6, 2013

Mandarin Oranges Symbolize Good Fortune For 4711

For many Asian communities worldwide, 2013 marks the Year of the Snake.

Considered the most important and longest holiday of the year on the Chinese calendar, the Chinese New Year begins this Sunday, February 10.

Commonly referred to as the Lunar New Year, it begins with the new moon and ends on the full moon 15 days later when the moon is at its brightest.

With its origins steeped in 4,000 years of history, the ancient Chinese lunisolar calendar, which is still used today marking traditional East Asia holidays, the New Year originated during the Shang Dynasty, c.1600-c.1100 BC.

Each year, the Chinese New Year is represented by one of the 12 animals on the Chinese zodiac, thus, the year 4711is the Year of the Snake.

The Snake, which is the sixth sign on the Chinese zodiac listed after the Dragon, which is the most recognized symbolizing power and strength, is intuitive, enigmatic, and introspective.

The weeks leading up to the Chinese New Year festival, which typically takes place in either January or February, Christmas decorations are replaced by traditional decorations of lanterns, cherry blossoms, orange trees and all things red symbolizing fire because it is said that the vibrant color drives away bad luck.

Community celebrations to usher in the New Year include fireworks to scare away evil spirits, lion dances, attending temple to light candles, and the ancient tradition of the Lantern Festival marking the end of the Chinese New Year.

The annual Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is an opportunity to honor family and friends by gathering together and sharing a traditional meal while observing customs stemming from ancient traditions of lunar and solar movements.

With a lot of culinary traditions associated with the New Year, a variety of symbolic food plays an important role in the celebration that often represents good wishes, luck and prosperity for the year ahead.

As each of the 15-day celebration carries its own significance, the most important meal during the celebration is the eve of the Chinese New Year. Called the reunion dinner, its where family and friends gather and dine on lavish food that usually consists of multiple courses of fish, pork and chicken accompanied by a variety of traditional side dishes.

So why not gather with friends and family to help usher in the Year of the Snake with this popular Chinese Mandarin Salad that can complement several main course dishes. Tweaked for the American palate, this salad includes just a few ingredients and is quick to prepare, which allows time to enjoy all the Chinese New Year festivities.

Chinese Mandarin Salad

A variety of your favorite lettuce leaves torn in to bite size pieces

1 can (11oz or 15 oz) Mandarin oranges, drained

Packaged Wonton strips

Asian ginger-honey dressing

Asian ginger-honey dressing

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 TBSP. minced fresh ginger root

¾ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup rice vinegar

½ cup soy sauce

3 TBSP. honey

¼ cup water

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well. Remove lid and heat jar in microwave for 30 seconds to dissolve honey. Let cool and shake well before serving. Store covered in refrigerator.

Assemble lettuce leaves, Mandarin oranges, wonton strips in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with the Asian ginger-honey dressing and serve chilled.


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