Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lantern Festival

So, for Christmas the Chan Clan gifted family members with Chinese lanterns (direct from Malaysia), some red packets, or Ang Pao, and a children's book about the Lantern Festival story.

For some odd reason the MB was determined we would celebrate this year.  So long as my husband and I cooked.  Hm, thanks Ma!  Actually it ended up being a 3 person job because the MB was also adamant that we have dumplings, and I wasn't planning on making them.  (The book also included a recipe for dumplings, as part of the the festival's tradition).

So I gave her a corner to work in...all by herself.  :)

The menu:

The meal was a success.  Aside from the dumpling incident.  I'll explain.

The dumplings called for things like Sticky Rice Flour, Sweet Sesame Seed Paste (for the filling), and black sesame powder.  None of which is found at the local grocery store.  

The Asian market in town is small and sadly lacking.  And a lot of the things on the shelves have been there since I think before the cold war.  For example, the 'sweet sesame seed paste'.  The MB had to dig the contents out of the bottle with a stick and mix it for awhile so as to resemble a 'paste'.  All I can say is that it resembled something coming from 'the south end of a northbound kangaroo'.  With the runs.  The MB tried to get 'The Man' to taste it.  Then me.  We both 'politely' declined.  After trying it herself she excused herself so that she could wash her mouth out.  I then advised her to make a bean paste, after much discussion.  Oy.  

I did, however, kindly (and may I say bravely) try her first experimental dumpling.  Either they are very much an acquired taste or there was something wrong them.  I like to think there was something wrong with them.  She made 18 of them.  I think everyone tried at least one.  My Dad got through two.  But I think he was trying for some bonus husband points.  

The Wanton soup was excellent.  (Did I mention I made it?)  :)  One small change next time.  Add the snap peas at the VERY last.  And put the uncooked wantons on wax paper and not a ceramic plate.  They stick.  That said, it was very yummy.

Chicken Lettuce wraps also very good.  'The Man' helped with the chicken.  I hate cutting/cooking chicken.        

Lychee Nuts!  Mmm.  They were blissfully cool and sweet.  And a nice break from all the heavy, hot foods.  'The Man' made his specialty fried rice.  Always good.

I just didn't have it in me to make a Chinese dessert.  So I opted for the easy, American version.  I heard no complaints.  

All in all a successful evening.  And we managed to impress our dinner guests as well.  (Thank you J-Family for coming!)  The MB told us about the Lantern Festival story and 'The Man' talked about some traditions that he and his family practiced.

Our dinner place settings.  (Grandma Chan gave the napkin/chopstick set to us awhile back).

The MB gave out Ang Pao!  Yay!  We explained the red packet tradition to our friends.  They love the idea.  Who wouldn't?!

 Lanterns!  These came from Malaysia the last time we were there.  (Thanks Grandpa and Grandma Chan!)  I got some battery operated tea lights.  You can't see them glow in this picture but, it was fun I promise.

It was an exhausting night of cooking but I'm glad we did it.  It was fun to eat all the yummy food, talk about traditions from a different part of the world, and be with good friends.  

To learn more about the Lantern Festival, go here.  



  1. Cool-ness! So in your next post, explain the Ang Pao...it wasn't mentioned in the book. : ) Love you guys!

  2. Thanks wife for an amazing dinner :)