Each year, we celebrate Chinese New Year with a wintertime feast. We love to make this occasion an extra-special family event, since one of our daughters, Mia, is adopted from China.
Typically, we cook up some easy Chinese food—beef with broccoli and lo mein—and the entire family gets together for a feast. On this day, it’s traditional to eat foods that are symbolic. For instance, long noodles symbolize longevity; oranges, which could represent gold, symbolize wealth. The idea is that if you eat these foods, you’ll enjoy prosperity and a very long life. It’s also a tradition on the Chinese New Year to eat whole fish. But at our house, a whole fish with the head and tail intact definitely is not on the menu! Mia is an ultra-picky eater who loves pasta more than any other food. For this reason, besides lo mein, Asian noodle soup is a way to bump up the good things in the approaching new year. For dessert, try fortune cookies (of course!), along with orange wedges and maybe a pot of tea.
What You’ll Need
- 4 ounces uncooked thin Chinese egg noodles
- 1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves
- 12 baby carrots
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon chili paste
- 2 (14 ½-ounce) cans vegetable broth
- ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
- ¼ cup white miso (soybean paste)
What to Do
- In a large pot of boiling water, cook noodles, according to the package directions.
Teachable Moment: 3 Crazy Noodle Facts
- The earliest noodles didn't even look like noodles at all; they were made from little pieces of dough cooked in hot water.
- One writer named Shu Shi who lived in the fourth century BC loved noodles so much that he wrote a poem about them. It's one of the oldest known documents that mentions noodles.
- You may be familiar with noodles made from wheat, but noodles can be made from other foods, too, including rice and mung bean flour.—The Atlantic.com and GBTimes.com
- Drain noodles and set aside. (You should have around 2 cups of cooked noodles.)
- Using a sharp knife, peel and chop the ginger and garlic. Let your little chef help with this step, but only if she has knowledge of basic knife skills. Otherwise, do this step yourself.
- With the chopping complete, invite your child to measure out about 1 teaspoon of chopped ginger and 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic. Next, she can measure the dark sesame oil into a large saucepan, and then add the garlic and ginger.
- Turn the heat to medium and cook the ginger and garlic, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the sliced carrots, water, chili paste, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes or until very hot.
Teachable Moment: 4 Cool Soybean Facts
- Civilizations around the world have been growing soybeans for thousands of years. The first farmers to pioneer soybean growth lived in China.
- Soy is all around you. Seventy five percent of the world's soybeans are used to feed animals like chickens and cows, which make the milk and eggs that feed you!
- Soy has been used to make things like the ink used in books—and even crayons. From just one acre of soybeans, you could make more than 80,000 crayons.
- The elevators in the Statue of Liberty run on a liquid made from soybeans.—Panda.org and America’s Farmers.com
- Turn off the heat. Let your little chef stir in the cooked noodles, peas, and miso. Turn the heat to low and simmer the soup for about 2 minutes or until hot.