Italians wouldn’t think of letting Jan. 1 slip by without a bowl of lentils, whose round shape evokes coins, a symbol of wealth.
The Spanish have the grape tradition. Starting at midnight on New Year’s eve, they eat one grape for each time the clock strikes twelve, then toast with champagne. Good luck chewing that many in quick succession. You’ll need the champagne if you haven’t already choked on that mouthful of grapes.
In the American South, eating black-eyed peas is thought to bring good luck for the new year ahead.
Several of these symbolic offerings were served in a New Year’s day buffet at the home of friends Mary Ellen and Jim, along with other delicious foods and bubbly (and killer bloody Marys!)
The pancit canton dish was prepared by someone who’s actually Philippine – Merlyn – and we were all glad she thought to make her country’s delicious celebratory dish for us. She shared her recipe with me, so you can try it as well. I hope all these foods bring you good luck, good health and prosperity in the year ahead.
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1 package of Pancit Canton noodles (wheat flour noodles, sometimes called flour sticks, available at Asian food stores)
2 pounds of shrimp, peeled
12 ounces white meat chicken, thinly sliced
3 whole medium size green, red or yellow bell peppers, sliced
1 Tablespoon freshly minced garlic
1 pound green beans, thinly sliced
3/4 cup carrots, julienned
1 small head of Napa cabbage, sliced
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce (optional)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped green scallions
3 T. cooking oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place two cups of ice and three cups of water in a large bowl. Set aside.
Boil six cups of water in a large pot.
Once the water starts to boil, blanch the beans, carrots and cabbage for 35 to 50 seconds. Quickly remove the vegetables and immerse in the ice water. Drain the water after two minutes and set aside.
Heat a large wok or pot and put in the oil.
Sauté the garlic and sliced bell pepper for two to three minutes and set aside.
Add the chicken and cook for two minutes.
Stir in the soy sauce and oyster sauce.
Pour in the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
Add the shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes, adding more water if needed.
Add the flour noodles, and gently toss until they absorb the liquid.
Add the blanched vegetables and the sautéed bell peppers, tossing and cooking for a couple of minutes. Add more salt and/or pepper as desired, to taste.
Black Eyed Pea Salad
Adapted from Patrick and Gina Neely’s recipe on The Food Network
Ingredients1 large tomato, diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (or a dash of tabasco sauce)
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained
1/2 bag (or about 1 cup) frozen green peas, thawed.
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl.In a separate small bowl, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, canola oil, sugar, and salt and pepper.
Toss all together and let marinate for at up to 8 hours in the refrigerator before serving.