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February 19 is Lunar New Year, a holiday celebrated in many Asian countries, including China, Vietnam and Korea. 2015 is the Year of the Sheep (or goat or ram, depending on both how you translate the word and where in Asia you live). Instead of champagne and caviar, this New Year is marked with foods like dumplings, noodles and other delicacies that are meant to bring health and wealth in the coming year.
“Many Chinese New Year foods symbolize prosperity and luck,” explains P.F. Chang’s co-founder Phillip Chiang (whose restaurant's name nods to both his name and that of co-founder Peter Fleming). “For example, dumplings symbolize prosperity as they are stuffed and folded, sealing in wealth.” Whole fish is also symbolic of prosperity, while long, unbroken noodles represent longevity.
"Finally, oranges are the most popular and abundant fruit during Chinese New Year, and are known to be a symbol of good luck,” Chiang says. Chiang’s favorite food for the New Year is dumplings, but he notes that P.F. Chang’s most popular New Year’s dish is the restaurant’s chicken lettuce wraps. Read on for the restaurant's recipe and five more delicious dishes that are perfect for the holiday.
1. Broccoli beef noodles: One of the most popular Lunar New Year dishes is noodles — the longer the better. Don't cut the noodles as you eat them — just slurp away. Jaden Hair’s recipe uses Chinese broccoli, beef sirloin and a sweet-savory marinade that is sure to get your year off to a delicious start!
2. Spring rolls: Start the year off in a healthy way with these light and fresh (not fried!) Vietnamese-style rolls from Alice Choi of Hip Foodie Mom. Rice paper wraps are stuffed with steamed shrimp and veggies. This is a great recipe to make with kids — it's a fun project, and who doesn't like a peanut dipping sauce?
3. Mongolian beef: This has to the most famous dish associated with the cuisine of Mongolia, where Lunar New Year is called Tsagaan Sar. This recipe from Julie Wampler of Table for Two fires on all cylinders. Wampler coats beef in cornstarch before searing it to ensure a crunchy crust, then coats it in a sauce made with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and brown sugar. The result is sweet, salty and totally crave-worthy.
4. Korean dumplings (mandu): Sue Pressey of My Korean Kitchen hand makes dough for her mandu (the Korean word for dumpling), which are stuffed with a kimchi, tofu and pork mixture, and then gently steamed until tender.
5. Egg rolls: As Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen explains, “Egg rolls look like gold bars, which symbolize wealth.” These cabbage and turkey rolls from the blog Gluesticks are easy to make, thanks to some quick grocery store hacks, such as using a bagged coleslaw mix instead of shredding cabbage by hand.
6. Chicken lettuce wraps: According to P.F. Chang's website, the word for "lettuce" sounds like "rising fortune" in Cantonese, making this a great dish for celebrating Lunar New Year. Try out the recipe below — and check out TODAY.com’s own take on Asian lettuce cups for a really easy make-ahead version.
This article was originally published Feb. 18, 2015 at 5:49 p.m. ET.