As we toast the new year and all there is to come in 2021, there's no better time than Lunar New Year . To learn more about the best food to enjoy throughout Lunar New Year, we spoke with Karen Liu of Harborview Restaurant and Bar, newly reopened for outdoor dining and the perfect place to enjoy authentic Cantonese cuisine with gorgeous views of the San Francisco Bay.
What are the top things essential for a Lunar New Year Celebration for our readers to celebrate with/prepare at home?
Lunar New Year is a time for families to gather and celebrate the closing of one year and the start of a new one. We wish each other greetings of prosperity, longevity, peace, happiness and most importantly, good health. We give each other gifts of food and money, clean the house and put up Lunar New Year decorations. There are many rituals and traditional foods that people eat, but Harborview has been celebrating with three main types of foods:
1) Poon Choi Aka Pen Cai (盆菜) is an auspicious one-pot dish served in a very big pot (traditionally served in wooden or metal basin) during festive periods, especially Chinese New Year. Our Poon Choi includes abalone, sea cucumber, fish maw, dried oyster, dried scallop, goose feet, jumbo prawns, Japanese scallops, black moss, Shiitake mushroom, roast duck, Princess chicken, chicken meatballs, crispy pork belly, and assorted vegetables. The premium ingredients signify abundance and prosperity.
2) The Prosperity Toss (Lo Hei 撈起 or Yu Sheng 魚生) is a colorful and refreshing appetizer salad dish of vegetables and raw fish, where you "toss" the ingredients with chopsticks. The ingredients and the dish signify prosperity, longevity, and good fortune. The higher you toss, the greater luck in the new year!
3) New Year's "cakes". 1) Turnip with Chinese Sausage, Dried Scallops and Dried Shrimp, 2) Osmanthus Water Chestnut Cake, 3) Sticky Rice "Year" Cakes (Nian Gao/Leen Goh), Special Sticky Rice Cake with Dates and Nuts
What is one of your favorite Lunar New Year food memories?
The fondest memories I have are tossing the salad with chopsticks and wishing each other new year's greetings. The higher you toss, the more fun it is! I enjoy this dish the most because people who are not familiar with this, always get a kick out of the process of "tossing" food in the air. Our Executive Chef Ronald Lee loves preparing this dish, not because it's his favorite dish, but he loves seeing his guests' joyful smiles when they are enjoying the dish.