This has been one long journey, telling you all about my Year of the Dragon Chinese Banquet! And here is my final blog post about it to bring everything together!
It all started with my Sunday Inspiration post about Chinese New Year. As I researched about it, I learned a lot more than I realised and was even more keen to throw my dinner party than I already was. I was born under the Year of the Dragon, so this year felt like a nice time to have family over for some Chinese food that I made myself.
Of course, a trip to London’s Chinatown was a must, to gain more inspiration, take some photos, enjoy a day out with my husband and buy some Chinese goodies that I wouldn’t be able to source at my local supermarket.
An invitation is where it starts, and I made mine using the auspicious Chinese colour, red along with gold. I think the two bold colours really popped.
With those sent, it was time to decide on the menu. The Food Network UK was showing a lot of Chinese cookery programmes which helped, and I also bought two Chinese cookery books to help me. One was Ching-He Huang’s Fast Food and the other was Ken Hom’s Complete Chinese Cookery. I cooked recipes from both books, and the two recipes that I found online just happened to be by both of these famous Chinese chefs!
With the dishes decided, I designed and printed off menus for each of my guests, using the same red and gold as the invitations.
I also made name place settings using some gold dragon figurines that I bought in Chinatown.
Using red and black as the main colours, and lots of different goodies that I bought in Chinatown, I decorated and laid my table.
It was Chinese New Year of the Dragon, so wasn’t complete without some dragon decorations!
And then I got to work preparing and cooking all the dishes!
Starting with the starters…
Dumpling symbolise family togetherness. They also represent wealth and prosperity because of their crescent shapes, which look like the ancient Chinese money.
A food may have special significance during Chinese New Year because of the way the Chinese word for it sounds. For example, the Cantonese word for lettuce sounds like rising fortune, so it is very common to serve a lettuce wrap filled with other lucky food.
Spring rolls symbolise wealth because their shape is similar to gold bars.
Crispy Seaweed (I cheated and bought this!)
For the main dishes which we all shared and enjoyed, I cooked…
Noodles represent a long life; an old superstition says it is bad luck to cut them.
I made a dessert and bought some rice cakes.
And to drink I made some iced tea and bought Chinese beers.
So with everything ready, it was time for the guests to eat, laugh, share and enjoy!
I took on a lot for this dinner party…sorry…banquet! But I wouldn’t change it for anything. It wasn’t as stressful as I was thinking it might be having to cook everything last minute, because I was so well prepared with everything chopped and marinated ready to throw into the wok at the last minute. Everyone enjoyed the food and decor and my attention to detail (my family know that I go all out!). And after realising how easy Chinese food is to cook, I don’t think I’ll ever bother with ordering take-away again!
I hope you try some of these dishes – they were all truly delicious, and whilst some might look fiddly, they are worth the effort!