Lunar New Year Recipes from Top Los Angeles Chefs

Genevieve Ko wrote . . . . . . . . .

It’s the Year of the Rat and horoscope forecasters say that means good fortune. Not as in luck, but as in money: More of it. To speed that promise along, here are a few Lunar New Year dishes traditionally served because they resemble riches: dumplings look like bags of money; bar-shaped foods savory and sweet evoke gold bars.

Shirley Chung of Ms. Chi Cafe in Culver City says she uses turmeric in the wrappers of the vegetable dumplings she makes for New Year so they resemble gold nuggets.

Marie Surakal serves legions of fortune-seekers Lunar New Year meals at Bamboo in the Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula. This year, she’s preparing thousands of golden bag dumplings. “The dumpling name in Thai means bag of money, so we made them as a family in Thailand to add some lucky charm into our prayers.” Even though the Lunar New Year isn’t a holiday celebrated in Thailand, Surakal says her family is part Chinese so they cooked and feasted together, packaging the money bags in a party assembly line.

“My relatives in the Philippines don’t celebrate Chinese New Year,” said Charles Olalia of the Silver Lake restaurant Ma’am Sir, “But my family here did because my dad’s a doctor and all his Chinese patients gave him food gifts that we’d eat for a week.” At Lunar New Year, Olalia makes Shanghai lumpia with a pork-shrimp filling fried to an auspiciously golden crisp.

When I was growing up, my mom coated slabs of niangao, a dense and sugary glutinous cake, in egg and fried them French-toast style. It was a dessert you had to eat right out of the pan; I’ve found butter mochi, a classic Hawaiian cake, delivers the same tender texture at any temperature and is perfect for toting to parties. Here, I tint the buttery batter gold with turmeric and cut the cake into “gold” bars to portend a year of richness.

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Checkout the recipes of the following dishes at Los Angeles Times:

  • Vegan Shiitake Jiaozi With Black Vinegar Dipping Sauce
  • Golden Bag Chicken Dumplings With Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Pork and Shrimp Lumpia Shanghai With Cracked Pepper Coconut Vinegar Sauce
  • Golden Butter Mochi

See the recipes . . . . .