Chinese New Year: Celebrate the Year of the Dragon

January 19, 2012 11:13:13 AM PST
The Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese Holidays and 2012 is the Year of the Dragon.

The dragon is known for its great enthusiasm, intensity and passion. Big Bowl is celebrating with a special 5-day menu beginning on January 19th and culminating on January 23rd. Symbolic food specials are offered each day of the celebration: January 19 through January 23.

Recipe: Big Bowl's Cantonese Shrimp and Lobster

Executive Chef Marc Bernard presents a menu of specials inspired by the Year of the Dragon and the symbolic foods that the Chinese eat for a bountiful new year. Shrimp and chive dumplings with a fiery sauce in honor of the dragon, Cantonese style lobster for bounty and almond cookies representing gold coins will be among the choices. Expect lucky cocktails, too, such as the Red Dragon (a kid version will also be available). All guests will be greeted with spicy peanuts, an auspicious food that represents new beginnings.

Good Luck Gamble

January 20

Gambling is symbolic of fortune for the New Year. In the evening, each table can take a chance by rolling the dice. Whatever number comes up will be deducted in dollars from the check (dine-in only).

Make Way for Dumplings

January 21, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

A complimentary cooking class on making dumplings because they represent wealth and prosperity. All participants receive a complimentary bag of dumplings. Spots fill up fast so make a reservation by calling the restaurant directly. Classes will be offered at the following locations:

Chicago - 6 E. Cedar St., (312) 640-8888
Lincolnshire, IL. - 215 Parkway Drive, (847) 808-8880
Edina, MN. - 3669 Galleria (952) 928-7888
Reston, VA. - 11915 Democracy Drive, (707) 787-8852

Happy Birthday to Me ? Chinese New Year's Eve

January 22

Part of Chinese New Year calls for acknowledging "everybody's birthday," a time when birth and renewal are celebrated. All guests receive a hóng bao (lucky red envelope). Tucked inside will be a gift certificate for $10 or $25 to Big Bowl, or a card for a complimentary appetizer, dessert, housemade ginger ale or bottled Big Bowl sauce.

As customary in Chinese families, all children will receive a hóng bao with a crisp $1 bill.

Lucky Dragon, Lucky You

January 23 - Chinese New Year's Day

All guests born in the Year of the Dragon will receive a complimentary lunch or dinner entrée (dine-in only) on the first day of the New Year. Dragon years include 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000 and of course, 2012.

Lastly, because the Chinese believe that giving more will lead to more good luck, Big Bowl will donate up to $5,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation from the seasonal blood orange ginger ale sales. Oranges are especially significant during the new year because the color symbolizes gold while the word 'orange' in Chinese sounds like wealth.

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Big Bowl's Cantonese Shrimp and Lobster Executive Chef Marc Bernard

8 ounces ground pork
2 teaspoons light soy
2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil plus extra for garnish
1 - 1 1/2 lb whole lobster
2 ounces peanut oil
1 cup scallions, sliced to 2" length, divided use
2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons Chinese fermented black beans, rinsed
1 teaspoon dry sherry wine
10 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut in half lengthwise
8 ounces chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg, whisked
Cilantro leaves, about 20 as garnish
2 cups jasmine rice, cooked as directed

Combine pork, soy and sesame oil. Let stand 10 minutes, refrigerated.

Split lobster lengthwise from head to tail with a large, sharp knife. Clean and crack large claws, being careful not to crush the meat. Place lobster halves into a steamer for about 5 minutes; until meat is firm to touch but not overcooked.

Heat peanut oil in a wok or deep saute pan. When smoky hot, add 1/2 cup of scallions, ginger and black beans and saute until fragrant, about one minute. Add the ground pork, and continue to cook about one minute; add Add sherry; stir to combine.

Add shrimp; cook and stirring about a minute until just starting to turn pink. Add broth, and bring to boil. Mix cornstarch with equal parts water and add to shrimp to thicken sauce.

Remove pan from heat and slowly add egg while stirring, so that the sauce becomes creamy. Stir in remaining scallions but do not cook. Correct seasonings with additional soy or sea salt. Place lobster half on one plate, ladle half of shrimp and sauce on top with half of rice. Garnish with cilantro and a few drops of sesame oil. Repeat plating for next serving. Makes two servings.

NOTE: Light soy refers to the color, not sodium content.