Tag Archives: lunar new year

Unboxing A $15 Gourmet Wagyu Beef Noodle Box – Taiwan

So this is some epic looking stuff. A-Sha USA was kind enough to send one of the fanciest products A-Sha Taiwan makes – their Gourmet Wagyu Beef Noodle Soup. So first things first – you want to get some? Well, it’s only available during the holidays i.e. Lunar New Year – so you might have a year to wait for it. But here I can show you what it looks like and tell you some about it – including the fact that this goes for $15.

Unboxing A $15 Gourmet Wagyu Beef Noodle Box – Taiwan

Unboxing Time: Mooncake From Prima Singapore

Unboxing Time: Mooncake From Prima Singapore - The Ramen Rater - prima taste laksa curry la mian

I remember discussing moon cake with my contact over at Prima Taste just around a year ago. They mentioned that they made it too – they are primarily a flour company and so make lots of different products that use flour as a main ingredient – instant noodles, bread mix, moon cakes, etc. October 4th this year is the big Mid Autumn Festival over in Asia and moon cakes are a big part of it. They are very dense and ornate and come in very ornate packages for the auspicious occasion. Let’s see what they sent!

Unboxing Time: Mooncake From Prima – Singapore

So I’ve decided to complicate my life a little – in a way I thought would be interesting – by doing video unboxings of everything I get from readers and noodle companies. Today, my daughter Miriam joins me in trying some moon cake.

A video of the unboxing and a history of these tasty treats – and a story

Here’s some additional info from Wikipedia –

mooncake (simplified Chinese月饼traditional Chinese月餅pinyinyuè bĭngJyutpingjyut6 beng2Yale: yuht béng) is a Chinese bakery product traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節). The festival is for lunar appreciation and moon watching, when mooncakes are regarded as an indispensable delicacy. Mooncakes are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the four most important Chinese festivals.

Typical mooncakes are round pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 3–4 cm thick. This is the Cantonese mooncake, eaten in Southern China in GuangdongHong Kong, and Macau. A rich thick filling usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste is surrounded by a thin (2–3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. Mooncakes are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by tea. Today, it is customary for businessmen and families to present them to their clients or relatives as presents,[1] helping to fuel a demand for high-end mooncakes. A considerable amount of waste is also produced. According to the Wall Street Journal’s China edition, as many as two million mooncakes are thrown away each year in Hong Kong alone,[2] not to mention the often voluminous packaging.

Due to China’s influence, mooncakes and Mid-Autumn Festival are also enjoyed and celebrated in other parts of Asia. Mooncakes have also appeared in western countries as a form of delicacy.[3][4][5][6][7]

he festival is intricately linked to legends of Chang E, the mythical Moon Goddess of Immortality. According to the Liji, an ancient Chinese book recording customs and ceremonies, the Chinese Emperor should offer sacrifices to the sun in spring and the moon in autumn. The 15th day of the 8th lunar month is the day called “Mid-Autumn”. The night on the 15th of the 8th lunar month is also called “Night of the Moon”. Under the Song Dynasty (420), the day was officially declared the Mid-Autumn Festival.[citation needed]

Because of its central role in the Mid-Autumn festival, mooncakes remained popular even in recent years. For many, they form a central part of the Mid-Autumn festival experience such that it is now commonly known as ‘Mooncake Festival’.

Many types of fillings can be found in traditional mooncakes according to the region’s culture:[original research?]

  • Lotus seed paste (蓮蓉, lían róng): Considered by some[who?] to be the original and most luxurious mooncake filling, lotus paste filling is found in all types of mooncakes. Due to the high price of lotus paste, white kidney bean paste is sometimes used as a filler.
  • Sweet bean paste (豆沙, dòu shā): A number of pastes are common fillings found in Chinese desserts. Although red bean paste, made from azuki beans, is the most common worldwide, there are regional and original preferences for bean paste made from mung beans, as well as black beans, known throughout history.[citation needed]
  • Jujube paste (棗泥, zǎo ní): A sweet paste is made from the ripe fruits of the jujube (date) plant. The paste is dark red in color, a little fruity/smoky in flavor, and slightly sour in taste. Depending on the quality of the paste, jujube paste may be confused with red bean paste, which is sometimes used as a filler.
  • Five kernel / Five smashed nuts (五仁, wǔ rén): A filling consisting of 5 types of nuts and seeds, coarsely chopped, is held together with maltose syrup. Recipes differ from region to region, but commonly used nuts and seeds include: walnutspumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, peanutssesame seeds, or almonds. In addition, the mixture will usually contain candied winter melonjinhua ham, or pieces of rock sugar as additional flavoring.
  • Beijing-style mooncake: This style has two variations. One, called di qiang, was influenced by the Suzhou-style mooncake. It has a light, foamy dough as opposed to a flaky one. The other variation, called “fan mao”, has a flaky, white dough. The two most popular fillings are the mountain hawthorn and wisteria blossom flavors. The Beijing-style mooncake is often meticulously decorated.
  • Cantonese-style mooncake: Originating from Guangdong province, the Cantonese style mooncake has multiple variations. The ingredients used for the fillings are various: lotus seed paste, melon seed paste, nuts, ham, chicken, duck, roast porkmushrooms, egg yolks, etc. More elaborate versions contain four egg yolks, representing the four phases of the moon. Recent contemporary forms (albeit nontraditional) sold in Hong Kong are even made from chocolate, ice-cream or jelly.[10]
  • Hong Kong-style mooncake: Hong Kong has gained her own style of mooncakes. While Hongkongese typically eat Cantonese-style mooncake, local inventions such as snow skin mooncake have been appearing over the last few decades.
  • Chaoshan (Teochew)-style mooncake: This is another flaky crust variety, but is larger in size than the Suzhou variety. It is close in diameter to the Cantonese style, but thinner. A variety of fillings are used, but the aroma of lard after roasting is emphasised.
  • Ningbo-style mooncake: This style is also inspired by the Suzhou-style. It is prevalent in Zhejiang province, and has a compact covering. The fillings are either seaweed or ham; it is also known for its spicy and salty flavor.
  • Suzhou-style mooncake:: This style began more than a thousand years ago, and is known for its layers of flaky dough and generous allotment of sugar and lard. Within this regional type, there are more than a dozen variations. It is also smaller than most other regional varieties. Suzhou-style mooncakes feature both sweet and savory types, the latter served hot and usually filled with pork mince. Filling made from salt and pepper (椒鹽, jiāoyán) are common in flaky Suzhou-style mooncakes.
  • Yunnan-style mooncake: Also known as t’o to the residents, its distinctive feature is the combination of various flours for the dough, and includes rice flourwheat flour, and buckwheat flour. Most of the variations are sweet.
  • Taiwanese-style mooncake: The most traditional mooncake found within Taiwan is filled with sweetened red bean paste, sometimes with mochi in the center. The most common traditional mooncakes coming from Taiwan are filled mung bean (lu dou) or taro paste, generally with a salted duck egg yolk in the mung bean mooncakes, and either salted duck egg or a savory treat in the taro mooncakes.[11] Modern, more trendy Taiwanese moon cakes are wide in variety that include low fat, lard free and ice cream versions. Popular modern flavors include green tea, chocolate, and tiramisu.

Celebrating Lunar New Year With The Seattle Singaporeans Meetup Group

Gong Xi Fa Cai! A couple weeks ago, I got an email from my friend Zi Hua from Prima Taste in Sngapore inviting me to a lunar new year’s celebration. It sounded great, but Singapore is so far away and such short notice. I quickly realized I was being invited to a Singaporean event very near where I live! The Seattle Singaporeans Meetup Group holds an annual lunar new year celebration at a restaurant called China Harbor on Westlake down in Seattle. I happily accepted the invitation and yesterday got to attend!

I got to sit at the dragon table! If anyone is wondering, I’m a rabbit – maybe that’s why I was lucky to be at this table! The event organizers sat here.

One of the first things we got to do was have Lo Hei Yusheng. What happens is a big plate comes out with some raw fish (usually salmon) and some thin sliced vegetables. Then, different spices, sauces and such are added, signifying different things like health, wealth and prosperity. Once everything is added, everyone at the table stands and with chopsticks, tosses the whole thing like a salad and says different positive things like prosperity and happiness. Then we got to eat it! I wish I would have gotten more video of this, but I was taking part.

Here’s what is looked like at the end. It was really good!

During the event, I was asked to come up and say a few words about The Ramen Rater – I must admit I haven’t done a lot of public speaking and was pretty nervous! It was fun though and I was really honored by the gifts from Prima Taste who sponsored the event and the letter that was read.

Next, we enjoyed a multi course meal – Honey Walnut Prawns, Crispy Roast Chicken, Curry Vegetables, Black Pepper Beef, Mixed Vegetables, House Crispy Noodles and Black Glutinous Rice for dessert. Everything was very delicious.

At the end, the Lion Dancers came and put on a great show! Turns out the leader of the group was in a Jackie Chan film called Who Am I – pretty cool! He explained how busy they were – running from one lunar new year event to another putting on the show.

When I got home, I opened the gift from Prima Taste – a very nice Risis pen and card holder with a Merlion (a special symbol of Singapore which is a fusion of mermaid and lion) and an inscription to me. I didn’t expect this and was very honored to be sure. They also gave me a couple cartons of their Curry and Laksa LaMian! They’re #2 and #3 on my top ten list.

I’d like to thank Eric Sim and Chan Zi Hua of Prima Taste, Ai Lin and Clement of the Seattle Singaporeans Meetup Group and Jim & Lucy who brought me to the event! Thank you all for your kindness and I was truly honored to know you and to have been able to attend this auspicious occasion!

If you’d like to learn more about the Seattle Singaporeans Meetup Group, you can find them here. You can find out more about Prima Taste here.  You can find out about the China Harbor restaurant here.  Gong Xi Fa Cai to all!

#1593: Nongshim Tteokgukmyun

This one came from Anders E., a reader in South Korea – thanks! He mentioned that this variety is often enjoyed on Korean New Year, and since that was a couple days ago, I thought I’d have it today. Here’s a little info about how it fits in with Lunar New Year celebrations from wikipedia:

The origin of eating tteokguk on New Year’s Day is unknown. However, tteokguk is mentioned in the 19th century book of customs Dongguksesigi (동국세시기, 東國歲時記) as being made with beef or pheasant used as the main ingredient for the broth, and pepper added as seasoning.[2] The book also mentions the custom of having a bowl of tteokguk in the morning of New Year’s Day to get a year older, and the custom of saying “How many bowls of tteokguk have you eaten?” to ask a person’s age.[3]

In the book The Customs of Joseon written in 1946 by historian Choe Nam-seon, the New Year custom of eating tteokguk is speculated as being originated from ancient times. The white tteok signifying purity and cleanliness would be eaten as a ritual to start off the New Year for good fortune.[3]

In Korea, on Lunar New Year’s Day, a family performs ancestral rites by serving tteokguk to their ancestors during a joint meal.[4] Although tteokguk is traditionally a seasonal dish, it is now eaten at all times of the year.

Happy Lunar New Year! Let’s have some tteokgukmyun!

Here’s the back of the package (click image to enlarge). Not sure whether it contains beef or not, but I’m guessing it does. To prepare, add everything to 500ml boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Enjoy!

The rice noodle block.

The soup base sachet.

Has a rich beef scent.

The vegetables sachet.

Lots of mushroom in there!

 

Finished (click image to enlarge). The noodles are made of rice and are broad with a nice chewiness. The broth is quite good – it has a nice beef flavor with a nice thickness as well as a little hint of spiciness. The vegetables hydrated perfectly. 4.25 out of 5.0 stars.EAN bar code 8801043023399.

Nongshim Ramen Flavor Combo, Shin Noodle Ramyun, Chappagetti, Neoguri, Anseung Tangmyun, 20-count

Friday Video: Happy Lunar New Year!

This video lets you in on some info about Lunar New Year and how people celebrate it around the world – and it’s funny, too! I thought I’d include some other videos as well. CCTV-1 did a 7+ hour Chinese New Year Gala. Here’s a long video showcasing traditional Chinese New Year music. In Singapore, you can see the fireworks from Marina Bay. Here’s a recipe for South Korean Tteokguk New Year’s Soup! Taiwanese artist Chen Forng-shean celebrates the Year of the Goat by delicately carving miniatures of the animal onto pencil tips.

#1592: Mom’s Dry Noodle Vegan Chilli With Sesame Sauce

Today’s a very big day for people living in Asia as well as the rest of the world! It’s Chinese New Year! I thought today would be a good day to have this new Mom’s Dry Noodle from Taiwan. I have the honor of taking part in a special Chinese New Year gathering in Seattle this year with a Singaporean group! I’ll be posting about that on Sunday. For those of you unfamiliar with Chinese New Year, here’s a little about it from Wikipedia:

Chinese New Year is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar. In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year’s Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. It falls between January 21 and February 20. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the “Lunar New Year“.

Chinese New Year is centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honour deities as well as ancestors.[2] Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong,[3] Macau, Taiwan, Singapore,[4] Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius,[5] Philippines,[6][7] and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity.” Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.

As you can see, this is a very big celebration the world over. 福壽雙全! Let’s have a look at this Taiwanese noodle from the company that won The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Taiwanese Instant Noodles 2014 Edition.

Here’s the back of the package (click image to enlarge). Vegan friendly. To prepare, add noodles to a pot of boiling water and cook for 4 1/2 minutes. Drain well and add in sachet contents and stir until combined. Enjoy!

Four of these transparent packs are contained in the bag.

The nodle block.

A soy sauce sachet.

A thin liquid.

The sesame sauce sachet.

Has a sesame-peanut scent.

Finally, chilli oil.

Has a very nice color to it.

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added cucumber, carrot and onion. The noodles have a really nice chew to them – very high quality. The flavor is really neat – it first presentas itself and a soy flavor. Then, a taste of the sesame comes in, finished by a nice spicy oil hit that is nice and strong. Again, Mom’s Dry Noodle brings something very nice to the table. 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 4717011150032.

Moms Dry Noodle Vegan Chili & Sesame Flavor – 12 Packs/carton

A recipe for traidtional Chinese New Year dumplings.