Sound the rooster and whip out the wok: In 2017’s Year of the Rooster, the Chinese New Year kicks off Jan. 28 with the Spring Festival, and the celebrations continue through Feb. 15, with the Lantern Festival. In our video below, Grandma Ruby Tom cooks traditional Chinese dishes at home in San Francisco with her grandkids Katherine, Marat, and Sean as they ring in the Chinese New Year together.
To celebrate, Ruby prepares jai, a healthy Buddhist vegetarian stew. Her version has 16 ingredients. Each ingredient is separately wok-cooked, then added to the pot, making this a Chinese New Year labor of love. Ruby was introduced to us by Chowhound Melanie Wong. Thanks, Melanie!
Interested piqued? Learn about some more good luck food for the Chinese New Year. And get Ruby’s recipe plus two other traditional desserts:
1. Buddha’s Delight (Jai)
This Cantonese vegetarian stew has 16 ingredients — from dried black moss to ginko nuts — and is considered a good-luck dish. Grandma Ruby compares the cooking method to ratatouille, in that you have to sauté each ingredient separately before adding it together. Get our Buddha’s Delight (Jai) recipe.
2. Steamed Chinese New Year Cake
Known in Mandarin as nian gao, for “higher year,” this is a traditional new year cake. Sweet rice flour, Chinese brown sugar, red dates known as jujubes, almond extract, and toasted sesame seeds make this a great treat for eight to 10 people. Get our Steamed Chinese New Year Cake recipe.
3. Baked Chinese New Year Cake
This version of the cake is pretty different, besides also using sweet rice flour. Enjoy the coconut flakes and coconut extract in here, plus the other usual suspects found in European and American cakes: butter, milk, sugar, and eggs. Get our Baked Chinese New Year Cake recipe.
Check out more Chinese and Chinese-American recipes in our Chinese New Year Dishes gallery.
— Meredith Arthur, Blake Smith, Davina Baum, Mathew Szymanowski, and Amy Sowder contributed to different versions of this article.