Chinese with ease

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beginning January 26, you’ve got a whole new reason — and a whole new season — to celebrate. It’s the start of the 15-day Chinese New Year festival and the first day of lunar year 4707, the Year of the Ox.

The Chinese New Year is all about spectacle, from the fireworks and dancing dragons to the fabulous food. That’s why it’s a holiday anyone can enjoy, and a perfect time to host a party with a surefire theme and plenty of crowd-pleasing surprises.

Cooking secrets

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For most home cooks, the biggest surprise of all is that Chinese cooking can be both fun and easy. The secret is to start with foolproof recipes and high-quality, authentic sauces that do most of the heavy lifting for you.

And the good news is, they’re no farther away than the Asian section of your supermarket, where you’ll find all kinds of ready-to-use Kikkoman sauces. In addition to the traditional flavors of teriyaki, sweet and sour and soy sauce, try some of the more exotic options such as the citrus-spiked soy sauce known as Ponzu. They’re all made right here in the United States with North American ingredients, expertly blended and balanced for authentic Asian flavor.

Symbols made simple

From the decor and color scheme to the food, Chinese New Year is rich in beautiful symbols. If you’ve got a round table, this is the time to use it, because it is a sign of wholeness. Decorate it with red and gold accents to represent good luck and prosperity.

Noodles — in dishes such as Wonton Soup and silky Sesame Ginger Noodles — stand for longevity. Roasted Duck is a traditional New Year favorite, its golden color symbolizing good fortune for the year ahead. And Steamed Fish is a centuries-old sign of abundance.

Round out the menu

Supplement the meal with other symbolic foods, such as:

* Store-bought pot stickers or spring rolls (said to bring prosperity because they resemble gold ingots)

* A bowl of tangerines or oranges (their Chinese names sound like the words for “luck” and “wealth”)

* Fortune cookies to go with dessert — you can even insert your own customized fortunes for the year ahead.

Get the Guide

For more Chinese New Year entertaining tips and recipes, download Kikkoman’s official Chinese New Year Celebration Guide at

Did you know?

The term “Wonton” comes from the Chinese phrase swallowing clouds.