Ringing in the Chinese New Year

Celebratory food options on-Island and at home.

Five-Minute Wonton Soup is packed with flavor, including ginger cilantro and soy. — Photo by Liz Della Croce

2015, the Year of the Sheep, is upon us, per the Chinese zodiac. Years of the sheep include 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, and 2015. Known as calm and peaceful people, those born in the year of the sheep tend to be private, and prefer to not be the center of attention. They tend to be healthier, focusing on eating greens and less red meat than others. If you’re looking to celebrate the Chinese New Year, we’ve put together a short list of restaurants where you can celebrate deliciously!

First up, a popular favorite of locals and visitors alike, is Copper Wok Pan Asian House and Sushi Bar in Vineyard Haven. Start your meal with pork dumplings, either fried or steamed, and stuffed with spicy pork and vegetables, served with a bright citrus-soy ponzu sauce. If it’s a chilly winter day, we recommend a bowl of their hot and sour soup, packed with cabbage, bamboo, black mushrooms, bell peppers, and a splash of red vinegar. Not too hungry? This soup serves as a great entrée, since the portions are plentiful. To celebrate the Chinese New Year and keep with tradition, order the house special lo mein cooked with flavorful Chinese sausage, chicken, and shrimp. Eating noodles during this time is said to be good luck. Just make sure to keep the noodles long, to represent a lengthy life ahead!

For those craving Chinese food in Edgartown, you can head to the China House, a local staple, across the street from the Stop and Shop. Warm up with their egg drop soup or take advantage of their lunch specials, which offer a great deal for anyone looking to satisfy Asian food cravings.

Need another option? Peking Palace in Falmouth offers delivery to the Island via the Steamship Authority. For an extra $10, they will deliver your food all the way to Vineyard Haven Harbor. The logistics are as follows: Delivery is offered Monday through Friday, three times a day. Order with plenty of time in advance, an hour being the recommended time frame. Deliveries happen on the boats arriving at 2 pm, 3:15 pm, and 4:30 pm in Vineyard Haven. Now that’s a special delivery!

Thinking about tackling Chinese cookery at home? New York food blogger Brandy O’Neill of nutmegnanny.com shares this Easy Beef and Vegetables Stir Fry recipe. Visit her website for more delicious inspiration!

Easy Beef and Vegetables Stir Fry
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes plus marinade time
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

For marinade:
2 pounds sirloin beef tips, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. grated ginger
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. sesame oil

For sauce:
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 (12-oz.) bag frozen Asian vegetable blend (also called stir-fry blend)

For serving:
White or brown rice, steamed

In a medium-size mixing bowl add beef, garlic, cornstarch, soy sauce, water, dark brown sugar, ginger, baking soda, red pepper flakes, and sesame oil. Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

After your meat has marinated and you’re ready to start cooking, mix your sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, dark brown sugar, and flour; set aside.

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add the beef (with all the marinade) and half of the sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the meat is no longer pink. While the meat is cooking, steam your vegetables until just warmed.

Once the meat is cooked, add in remaining sauce and steamed vegetables. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables are coated.

Once ready, remove from heat and serve over steamed rice.

Another favorite, wonton soup, is the perfect way to warm up on these cold winter nights. Food blogger Liz Della Croce of thelemonbowl.com brings us a quick, five-minute wonton soup recipe that’s packed with flavor.

Five-Minute Wonton Soup
Serves: 4

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
½ Tbsp. sambal oelek (chili paste)
16 frozen dumplings
2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 cups baby kale (or baby spinach)
8 oz. rice noodles, prepared according to package instructions
hoisin sauce (optional garnish)
fresh cilantro (optional garnish)

Bring chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, sesame oil, and sambal oelek to boil in a large soup pot, whisking occasionally.

Add frozen dumplings, mushrooms, and baby kale to the boiling broth, and simmer for 3 minutes, until dumplings are warmed through and kale is wilted.

Divide noodles between four bowls, and cover with equal parts of soup.

Garnish with a drizzle of hoisin sauce and fresh cilantro, if you wish.