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Importance of Food during Lunar New Year

Photo by Christine Wei, one of VAHMS’ Interconnected Artists. Check out more of her art here:

With Lunar New Year just around the corner, peoples around the world from different cultures are salivating in their sleep about the delicious foods: jiǎozi, Chinese dumplings resembling antiquated currency; bánh chưng, savory rice cakes from Vietnam; ul boov, Mongolian sole cakes layered in odd numbers. Food and sharing it with family is so important that we’d like to share our #1 favourite from Henry Feng, a professional chef working in the Lower Mainland!

Yanduoxian Recipe

Although Yanduoxian is originated in Huizhou, it developed and integrated into the original Shanghai cuisine in the early 1820s.  The three characters of this dish represent three ingredients—the first character is the preserved pork that is usually homemade; the second character represents the process— simmered on low heat, and the last is the fresh pork with seasonal bamboo shoots. According to history, when General Tso (左宗棠) visited Hangzhou, one businessman Hu, warmly served him with the soup made by preserved pork and the seasonal bamboo shoots. Later, due to Tso’s accent, it was mistakenly called Yanduoxian.

The winter in Shanghai is always cold. This cold is not simply low temperature, but a gloom and chill that directly penetrates your bone. The humid chilly air following the gusty wind has become a nightmare for Shanghainese. Many Shanghainese started to prepare Yanduoxian before the Spring festival in the lunar calendar because the main ingredient, bamboo, started sprouting. Therefore, Yanduoxian has become the must-have dish in the new year celebration menu. 

When I was a child, meat was always served with tickets. Unfortunately, due to poverty, the meat supply was limited to each household, and any meat dish would be the biggest blessing. However, my grandmother always bought a big bag of bamboo shoots before the festival, cut pounds of pork belly in which half of the pork was made for preserved pork. Usually, after a week for preserved pork to be ready, she cut the bamboo shoots and meat into small pieces in a pot and simmered for at least three hours. You will see the soup is thick and the meat is half-melting while the bamboo shoots are fragrant, crisp and tender, with a mellow taste. That taste makes you remember forever.
The secret of this dish is that the combination of meat and bamboo shoots is a perfect match. Because of the preserved pork, we usually don’t need to put extra salt, and the salty taste is thoroughly absorbed by fresh meat and tender bamboo shoots. The only thing you need to do is to stop mouth-watering and enjoy the taste.  


Ingredients: 2 pounds of Pork bones, 500g of Fresh Bamboo shoots (you can also use the frozen one instead), 1 pound of fresh pork belly (cut into the chunks), 200g preserved pork belly, 300g Bean curd Knot

Preparation:1) Both pork bones and the fresh pork belly need to be boiled for 5mins first and rinsed after boiling. 2) Boil 300g of Bean Curd knot in boiling water for 2-3 minutes to remove the fishy smell of beans

1) Fill 5000ML of water into the soup pot, and put pork bones into the pot. The pork bones need to simmered on low heat for 3 hours, and filter out the pork bones
2) After 2 hours of simmering the pork bones, put the fresh pork on medium heat for 1 hour
3) Add the Bean Curd Knots and cook for 30 minutes
4) Add the sliced preserved pork and cook for the last 10 minutes.

Tip: Do not cook preserved pork too long, it will lose the taste, and the soup may be too salty to drink. Some may like to add a piece of salted pork bones (or soup ham) to the soup. As a result, the soup is milky white and delicious.