The Year of the Snake and the Blizzard

Chinese New Year Blizzard 2013

For Warren and me Chinese New Year has always meant family and friends. To express our love and affection we do what we do best: offer good food. For many years our Chinese New Year celebration centered on a ten-course banquet. Our nieces would invariably be the focus of the evening. But this year was different. One of our nieces is now living in Singapore and the other one is off in college at Cornell University. Fortunately we live in a Harlem apartment building full of young and lively families. They have become our extended family, so our Chinese New Year tradition continues with them.

Last Friday afternoon, even with the threat of a major blizzard sweeping through New York, Warren and I went to Chinatown to shop for our Chinese New Year banquet. We had expected Chinatown to be busy as it was very nearly new year, but what we faced was a chaotic scene verging on pandemonium. Obviously the impending weather prompted everyone to converge on Chinatown aiming to get their shopping done ahead of the storm. We went to Chinatown armed with a shopping list for our ten-course banquet.

One specific item that I wanted to serve to welcome the incoming year of the snake was fresh water eel (黃鱔). After going to five different fishmongers I was unable to find it. I was becoming desperate. Finally in a supermarket on Mott Street I talked to the seafood manager and learned that they had just sold out of eels that morning. I wonder if other people had the same idea as I — serve eel to symbolize the “snake.” Defeated I revised my menu and bought red snapper instead.

Scrambling my brain to come up with a way to prepare the red snapper I remembered a delicious pan-fried flounder with cumin crumble served in a Dongbei restaurant in Flushing. So I came up with my version and served this towards the end of the banquet. Oddly it turned out to be the highlight of the meal.

In the end even after making last minute changes to one other item I was quite pleased with the menu. There were eleven adults and four little girls in our party. No one missed having any food that symbolizes “snake,” and the girls loved the fish so much that they made me promise to make it again at my next dinner and to make two of them.

Again it took the next generation to bring such fun and happiness to our New Year tradition. Happy and prosperous New Year to you all!

  • 迎春年夜宴
    Chinese New Year’s Banquet

    • Sunday, February 10, 2013
    • 四色小涼菜
      Assorted Cold Appetizers
    • 海蜇拌木耳 Jellyfish and Wood Ear Salad

      蘆薈拌木瓜 Aloe Vera and Papaya Salad

      紅糟滷牛腱 Cold Beef Shank in Red Wine Lee

      涼拌蓮藕塊 Sweet and Sour Lotus Root
    • 蛋黃炒龍蝦
      Stir-Fried Lobster with Salted Duck Egg Yolk
    • 珍珠牛肉丸
      Pearl-Studded Beef Balls
    • 挾飽紅燒肉
      Red Cooked Pork with Steamed Buns
    • 山藥豬骨湯
      Herbal Pork Bones and Mountain Yam Soup
    • 蔥爆海參片
      Stir-Fried Sea Cucumber with Leeks
    • 素錦豆腐煲
      Braised Tofu with Mixed Vegetables
    • 孜然煎紅雕
      Crisp-Fried Red Snapper with Cumin Crumble
    • 鹹魚皇炒飯
      Salted Fish and White Asparagus Fried Rice
    • 棗泥煎鍋餅
      Fried Crepe with Jujube Paste Filling

Assorted Cold Appetizers

Assorted Cold Appetizers

Stir-Fried Lobster in Salted Egg Yolk Sauce

Stir-Fried Lobster with Salted Duck Egg Yolk

Pearl Studded Beef Balls

Pearl-Studded Beef Balls

Red Cooked Pork

Red Cooked Pork with Steamed Buns

Pork Ribs and Mountain Yam Soup

Herbal Pork Bones and Mountain Yam Soup

Stir-Fried Sea Cucumbers

Stir-Fried Sea Cucumber with Leeks

Braised Tofu Caserole

Braised Tofu with Mixed Vegetables

Crisp Fried Red Snapper with Cumin Crumble

Crisp-Fried Red Snapper with Cumin Crumble

Salted Fish and White Asparagus Fried Rice

Salted Fish and White Asparagus Fried Rice

Fried Crepe with Jujube Paste Filling

Fried Crepe with Jujube Paste Filling

This entry was posted in Stories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing spread, YOU are amazing! Happy year of the snake to you and Warren!

  2. SC
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink


    Such a glorious feast!

  3. Nancy Stern
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    That is the most beautiful meal. The food we shared last year in Flushing with IACP pales beside it. Hope you are coming to San Francisco.

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Yes Nancy. I will be in San Francisco for IACP. We’ll have to meet up then.

  4. peiling
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Kian, next year please extend your family and friend circle to Hartsdale!
    Happy New Year!!萬事如意!

  5. Michael
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know how you do it!

  6. Posted February 14, 2013 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Hello Kian, I just wanted you to know I was inspired by your lunar new year feasts to serve my own 7 course feast to 12 people. And yes, we had red cooked pork belly with steamed buns!

    • Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Hi Rhonda, I’m thrilled that I inspired someone to make multi-course Chinese dinner. You feast sounds wonderful. Happy new year of the snake!

  7. Posted February 16, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Wow, wow, wow. Kian what a lovingly crafted post. The text, the photos — I ate it all up. Since I do almost nothing during the holiday, reading your post is my vicarious thrill. Happy New Year to you and Warren! xo

    • Posted February 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Betty! Happy new year to you and your daughter. Thanks for your kind words. We miss you.

  8. Posted February 18, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Miss you too, Kian! But hope to change that soon by visiting Blue Lotus next week. Me and two friends. I will make reservations later today. xo

  9. Ana Chiu
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    Can you please post the recipe for Herbal Pork Bones and Mountain Yam Soup? I love cooking Chinese soups and there are hardly any soup recipes on your blog.

    • Posted February 21, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      Hi Ana,

      For you I will post this special soup recipe over the next month or so. I’m so please to know that you would enjoy more soup recipes, especially herbal ones. Most American readers are not familiar with the Chinese practice of keeping a balance diet to enhance healthy constitution. I will try to post more of these healthy herbal soup recipes in the future. Thank you for your suggestion.


      • Ana Chiu
        Posted February 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Thanks so much Kian! I’m Cantonese-American so I grew up drinking soup every day. Recently I moved to China, so I’m making my own soup, but it’s quite overwhelming when I go to the herbal stall at the market.

  10. Sandy Brennan
    Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Hello! We adopted our son from China (Yunnan) 5 years ago when he was 7 years old. He keeps talking about a soup he loved. He said it was sweet with a reddish broth and it had hard boiled egg in it. Any idea what this could be?? I would love to be able to make this for him. If this is something you know would you mind e-mailing me the recipe.

    Thank you

    • Posted February 28, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Hi Sandy, I’m afraid I’m not able to discern the specific soup from your description. I’m very sorry. Can anybody out there help?

      • Ana Chiu
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        It sounds like ginger-vinegar soup (姜醋), made with black vinegar, ginger, pig feet, eggs, and 5 spice. Sandy, I would suggest eating it first before trying to replicate at home. It has a unique sweet/sour/spicy flavor. You won’t be able to find it at full-service restaurants, but informal places in Chinatown NY might have it. Good luck!

        • Sandy Brennan
          Posted March 4, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          Thank you for responding!! I will try to find it somewhere. :0)

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>