Chinese New Year 2015 starts Thursday, February 19, which means that if you’re planning to celebrate, all your real festivities should be scheduled for Wednesday. If you’ve never celebrated before, here’s a look at one Chinese chef’s interpretation.
Last week, a few days in advance of the real start of the Year of the Goat, Baohaus chef Eddie Huang hosted a New Year’s celebration in partnership with Hennessy, a label which will be especially familiar to anyone who’s attended his or her share of Chinese weddings.
Huang’s menu for the evening, a six-course affair put together in the tiny kitchen of No. 7 Restaurant in Brooklyn, featured lion’s head chicken soup, Hainan lobster salad, chili miso-braised fish, and Szechuan roasted black garlic chicken. As an interlude, guests were treated to a traditional lion’s head dance typically reserved for boisterous Chinatown streets around New Year’s.
The evening’s sponsor made sure that every glass was full of Red Ram, a cocktail created especially for the evening. Eddie, who has partnered with Hennessy in the past, even created a Hennessy Privilege Milk Tea (paired with egg tarts from Taipan Bakery in Chinatown) that actually made this author appreciate milk tea (black tea sweetened with condensed milk).
When we sat down with Eddie to talk about his love for the holiday, he brought over a full plate of roasted chicken and recalled his early role in the kitchen.
“My mom worked, so she would call me on the way home, and I would get things ready so that when she got home, she could just cook. I was always my mom’s prep cook.”
Quickly, that role expanded to one of household handyman.
“My mom bought a pressure washer and had me pressure wash the house. She would see other people get services, like this guy pressure washing or this guy cleaning the pool, and she would be like, ‘What chemicals do you use? Where do you buy the machines?’ and she would be like, ‘Guess what? You’re now pressure washing the house and cleaning the pool.’”
There are lots of things you wouldn’t think kids can do until parents force them to, I offer.
“Mulan joined the army,” Eddie says in agreement.
On Fresh Off the Boat, the ABC sitcom inspired by Huang’s memoir of the same name, we’ve yet to see a young Eddie face these challenges. The chef has made it clear that the resemblance between the show and its source material continues to diverge. Will there be, for instance, an episode of the show that features this holiday — the most important one of the Chinese calendar?
“I don’t know if any of this will be on the sitcom because they never do any of the real s--t on that show, but on Vice we’re gonna do it. You’re on Vice right now.”
And, lastly, who in Huang’s family is known for being the most generous giver of the all-important red envelope?