|DON’T FEEL SHEEPISH – NEW YEAR SPECIALS WILL BRING YOU GOOD FORTUNE AND GOOD FLAVOURAn ancient Chinese axiom states that if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing at least twice. Consider New Year’s for instance. There’s the ‘mainstream’ New Year’s Eve held on December 31st – a rather sedate affair by Chinese. Since the idea of celebrating New Year is essentially a good one, why not do it again?
February 18 heralds the Year of the Sheep (also called Ram or Goat as the Chinese word is the same for all) or the year 4713 on the Chinese calendar. It marks the beginning of a party that lasts 15 days and includes parades, dragon and lion dances, tons of noisy firecrackers and food – lots and lots of special food.
From February 19 through 22, Andrew Wong and Chef Todd Bright of Wild Rice Market Bistro, will mark the occasion with special feature dishes. According to Chinese tradition, each dish carries a name or ingredients that convey wishes for health, riches, children or prosperity. The wishes are based on the Chinese system of homonyms, where one word sounds like another word, or the dish looks like something, such as gold in colour for ‘wealth.’ At New Year’s, such symbolic meanings are doubly important. On Wild Rice’s Menu, you’ll find these dishes wishing you good fortune.
Lamb Turnip Cake (Luo Bo Gao): Pan-seared turnip cake filled with shitake mushrooms, ground lamb, and accompanied by a citrusy house-made ponzu sauce. Turnip cakes symbolize good omens and the Shitake mushrooms mean ‘seizing opportunity.’ The dish includes eight cakes for only $10. The numeral eight is a very lucky number in Chinese symbolism because it sounds like the word for ‘prosperity.’
Roasted-Goat Curry Steam Bun (Shanyang Bao): Roasted goat, onions and pumpkin in a lighted curry sauce stuffed into a steam bun. The bao is served with garlic chive aioli on the side and is priced at $12. The pumpkin represents ‘prosperity and abundance,’ onion symbolizes ‘cleverness,’ while the garlic chives symbolize ‘eternity and long life.’ The curry is orange/golden and that denotes ‘wealth.’
Lamb Potstickers (Yangrou Jiaozi): a favourite on Wild Rice’s menu, these flavourful, Fraser Valley lamb-filled dumplings are served with pea and mint puree. Dumplings represent ‘wealth’ as they resemble traditional Chinese gold ingots. The word ‘jiaozi’ also shares the same pronunciation for an ancient Chinese coin. Peas, being ‘seeds’ convey the wish for ‘fertility’ and ‘many children.’ The green colour of the sauce symbolizes ‘new growth.’ A dish of these is priced at $12.
Sesame Seed Balls with Mandarin Sorbet (Jian Doi): every Chinese meal ends on a sweet note. Red bean paste-stuffed Jian Doi are a traditional New Year’s treat as they convey so many auspicious meanings – the golden colour symbolizes ‘wealth,’ the multiple sesame seeds mean both ‘wealth’ and ‘many children,’ the red bean paste is ‘good luck’ and ‘fertility.’ Mandarins represent ‘wealth’ because of their colour. A plate of Jian Doi with sorbet is value-priced at $5 – the numeral five meaning ‘completeness.’
Wild Rice co-owner and wine guy Andrew Wong, has developed a Cascadia-focused wine list that complements the complex flavours of Chinese cuisine. He’s always happy to help you select an appropriate wine to accompany your meal. Many Chinese prefer to drink tea or hard spirits with dinner. Wild Rice also offers an extensive tea menu along with several appropriately named cocktails including the Wild Dragon, Lotus and Orchid. Especially for New Year’s Andrew has designed Lai See, a cocktail incorporating sparkling wine, ginger syrup and house-made fresh berry reduction. Lai See are the traditional red envelopes given at New Year’s as well as wedding, birthday or special gifts throughout the year. Usually they contain money, chocolate coins or a gift certificate. They always contain wishes for prosperity and good luck.
From noon to 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 22nd, Wild Rice patrons will be treated to a special performance by the Mulan Dancers who perform classical Chinese dance in traditional period costumes. The performance is free and is included as part of Wild Rice’s Year of the Sheep celebrations.
According to an ancient Chinese proverb “good fortune of the mouth is no mean thing.” Give your year a lucky start by enjoying the Year of the Sheep specials at Wild Rice Market Bistro.