For Tanya Lin, owner of Yellow Mountain Tea House, 2616 W. Colorado Ave., Chinese New Year, a 16-day celebration that begins Sunday wouldn’t be complete without the dumplings known as dim sum.
The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar and is represented by one of 12 animals; this year, it’s the rabbit.
“Every family in northern China makes and eats dumplings on New Year’s Eve,” Lin said. “There’s an old saying (that) if you don’t eat the dumplings on New Year’s Eve, you won’t have a good New Year.”
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He added that in southern China, where Lin is from, dim sum is eaten daily, in the morning, for lunch and for afternoon tea time.
Dim sum is also the term that describes a traditional Chinese meal consisting of small plates of dumplings, accompanied by tea. Dumplings are often served in bamboo steamer baskets. Dim sum is eaten the same way the Spanish eat tapas: the dishes are shared at the table.
“Dim sum originated in teahouses,” Lin said.
Lin focuses on tea at his tea house, but also offers an organic dim sum menu. The best way to enjoy dim sum?
“Bring several friends to eat with you,” he said. “Then everyone can order a different type of dim sum and share.”
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Cynthia Chung Aki, founder of the Golden Lotus Foundation in Colorado Springs, who grew up in Hawaii, is a big fan of dim sum.
“The history of dim sum goes back to the rice field workers who couldn’t stop for lunch,” he said. “So you’ll find the old pictures of coolie men carrying baskets, holding small portions of food on either end of a stick, in the fields.”
For her dim-sum fix, Chung Aki heads to Denver’s Star Kitchen. That’s where he took a group of foundation members and me a few years ago for a Sunday morning party. Carts came out of the kitchen full of steaming dumplings and plates of fried food. We told the waiter to see in more detail something we had seen and then order what we liked for the table. The waiters unloaded our food from their cart, keeping a record of our order on a menu card left on the table.
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Food plays an important role in Chinese New Year celebrations. They symbolize luck, good fortune, prosperity and longevity for the coming year. For example, dim sum spring rolls have the shape and golden yellow color of gold bars, symbolizing good fortune. Glutinous rice balls are considered a lucky food. Sweet rice balls are associated with family gathering and togetherness. Longevity noodles served uncut symbolize a wish for long life.
David Cook, co-owner and instructor of Gather Food Studio and Spice Shop, offered some recipes for making your own dim sum. But if those seem too complicated, he suggests heading to Pacific Asian Market on Wooten Road, which offers an assortment of dim sum on weekends.
Contact the writer: 636-0271.
contact the writer: 636-0271.