Festive dishes with a dash of prosperity

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am


Families look forward to the Lunar New Year because the celebration is filled with fireworks, games and, of course, a plethora of delicious treats. So, fire up your kitchen for the Year of the Water Dragon with these simple - and 'lucky' - recipes.

Vegetarian lettuce wraps

Some Chinese families start the year with meat-free meals. Not eating anything killed is thought to bring good karma. Lettuce, or sang choi (which sounds like the Cantonese word for 'rising fortune'), is traditionally served over the holiday.


1 tbsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 shallots, peeled, sliced

1 medium carrot, peeled, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 pack firm tofu, diced

6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked, drained, sliced

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

75ml vegetable stock

1 tsp corn flour, dissolved in water

50g peanuts, roasted

Lettuce leaves

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium flame. Add the garlic and shallots then stir-fry.

2 Add the carrots and celery and stir-fry for five minutes, then stir in the oyster and soy sauces.

4 Add the tofu, shiitake mushrooms, chilli flakes and vegetable stock. Stir gently to mix, then bring to the boil.

5 Add the corn flour and mix well.

6 Toss in the peanuts. To serve, spoon the filling onto a lettuce leaf.

Nutritional info per 100g: 67kcal, 277kJ, 3.5g protein, 4.4g fat, 3.6g carbohydrates, 1.1g fibre

Mandarin orange loaf cake

Mandarin oranges symbolise wealth and good fortune, and they're usually abundant in every Chinese household during the celebration. If you have leftover fruit, try including them in this easy-to-make loaf cake.


(Makes around 14 slices)

1/2 cup juice from 8 oranges

zest from 4 oranges

200g plain yogurt

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

225g all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

110ml vegetable oil

150g sugar

2 eggs


1 Preheat oven to 170C/350F. Grease a 5x10 inch loaf tin.

2 Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

3 Whisk together the oil, sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the flour mixture then add the mandarin juice and zest, yogurt and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.

4 Pour the batter into the tin. Bake for about 50 minutes in the centre of the oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

5 Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before inverting the tin to remove. Let it cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Nutritional info per slice: 190kcal, 798kJ, 3.3g protein, 9.4g fat, 25.2g carbohydrates, 0.5g fibre

Wynnie Chan is a British-trained nutritionist. If you've got a question for her or would like to be featured in this column, e-mail nutrition@scmp.com