Long-Life Noodles for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Noodles

Chinese New Year falls early this year, on January 28. To help usher in the year of the rooster, there are many auspicious foods that you can prepare to share among family and friends. Each offers its own promise of health, happiness, wealth or prosperity, and when combined, should offer enough luck to last you through 2017! The following is a brief list of traditional items eaten for the lunar new year.

  • Fish: Typically steamed and always served whole with the head and tail attached, signifying abundance.
  • Dumplings: Symbolizes wealth and prosperity, as the shape of the dumplings resembles gold ingots from ancient China.
  • Noodles: The longer the noodles, the better, representing a long life.
  • Glutinous rice cakes (nian gao): This sweet steamed glutinous rice cake denotes the reaching of new heights.
  • Citrus fruit: Displayed as well as eaten, these symbolize wealth and luck.
  • Glutinous rice dumplings (tang yuan): These small boiled rice balls can be prepared plain or filled with sweet pastes made of black sesame, red beans or peanuts. They represent family togetherness.

If a large multicourse dinner is not in the cards and you only have time to cook one item, try preparing noodles. As a one-bowl dish, stir-fried noodles offer lots of choices for customization. Plus, they can easily be scaled up or down to serve two or a crowd.

 When it comes to Chinese noodles, the options are many. They can be thick or thin, wheat-based, or made from rice or mung beans. In the recipe for Long Life Noodles below, we call for wheat-based Chinese egg noodles, a popular choice that appears in a variety of takeout dishes. Whether you choose the thinner (chow mein) or thicker (lo mein) variety, the noodles are chewy and springy, hold onto sauce well and provide a great base for assorted vegetables and proteins. Gong xi fa cai!

Long Life Noodles

Look for lo mein or chow mein noodles in the refrigerated noodle section of Asian grocery stores or well-stocked supermarkets. Baked marinated tofu is sometimes referred to as marinated bean curd or dried bean curd and is sold in square blocks. Do not substitute water-packed plain tofu.


Shiitake mushrooms

3 Tbs. oyster sauce

2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbs. Shaoxing wine or dry sherry

2 tsp. sesame oil

2 tsp. grated ginger

2 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 cup chicken broth

2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into thin strips

1 lb. fresh Chinese egg noodles, such as chow mein or lo mein

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces

Kosher salt

2 cups shredded cabbage

2 cups broccoli florets

4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced

6 to 8 oz. baked marinated tofu, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips

Cooking Instructions

oil poured into skillet

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oyster sauce, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Transfer 1/4 cup of the sauce mixture to another bowl and whisk in the chicken broth. Set aside. To the remaining sauce mixture, add the chicken and stir until evenly coated. Set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and parboil according to package instructions, 1 to 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Drain thoroughly, toss with 1 Tbs. oil and set aside.

3. In a large nonstick skillet, warm 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot, season with salt and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook until all the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl.

4. In the same skillet, warm 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and mushrooms and season with salt. Cook until the broccoli is tender-crisp and the liquid released by the mushrooms has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the onion mixture.

5. Return the pan over medium-high heat and warm 1 Tbs. oil. Add the baked tofu strips and the marinated chicken. Cook until both are browned and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the large bowl.

6. Add the noodles to the pan and stir-fry until warmed through. Add the reserved sauce mixture and toss until the noodles are evenly coated. Transfer the noodles to the large bowl and toss until all the components are well combined.

7. Divide among serving bowls and serve immediately.

Serves 6.