It is hard to believe that on New Year’s Day of 2020 many of us anticipated a march of months punctuated by family gatherings, vacations, success and good health. But here we are now, a year later, still held in the grip of COVID-19.
The virus killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone. It mangled — temporarily — entire industries: restaurants, events, travel, film, Main Street retail. The list, unfortunately, goes on and on.
With vaccines now protecting increasingly more people from the virus every day, we look forward to 2021 with immense hope.
To help turn our dreams of 2021 — packed restaurants, hugging friends, cheering crowds at basketball games, bustling schools, a buoyant economy, widespread health — into reality, let’s do whatever we can to boost our luck, yes?
One common good-luck gambit revolves around eating certain foods early in the New Year. People in the South enjoy black-eyed peas, greens and corn bread — peas for pennies, greens for dollars and cornbread for gold.
For many pork represents progress. Pomegranates promote fertility and life. Fish travel in large schools, which suggests abundance, and their scales look like coins. People around the globe eat them for good luck in the new year.
And then there is noodles.
In Japan, people have been eating soba noodles on New Year’s Eve to promote good luck since the 13th or 14th century. The ritual, called Toshikoshi Soba, centers on a simple bowl of soba noodles in a dashi broth.
The practice suggests that with every slurp of a long noodle, the eater has a better chance for a fulfilling life. In addition, noodles represent breaking free from the past, just as noodles break with each bite; strength, as buckwheat crops often are resilient; and fortune, with the buckwheat in the noodles representing the buckwheat flour goldsmiths once used to collect gold dust.
Noodles figure largely into Chinese New Year celebrations. So-called “longevity noodles,” which are long and often stir-fried, get slurped with abandon by Chinese people during Chinese New Year, which in 2021 begins on February 12. Given their length, the noodles represent longevity. However, superstition demands that eaters bring the noodles into their mouths without breaking them.
As manufacturers of artisan noodles, we at Simply Food celebrate all traditions that incorporate noodles. We certainly eat our noodles ourselves to kick-off the New Year with signals of peace, prosperity and health.
To begin 2021, Simply Food offers a series of noodle recipes that delivering a range of flavors and culinary experiences. We believe there’s no such thing as too many noodles. For us, noodles are a way of life.
Good Luck Noodle Recipe: Classic Lo Mein
We savor lo mein any time of the year, including in January when we eat it for good luck. Lo mein is a traditional Cantonese dish made with egg noodles. After it arrived in the United States people across the country began clamoring for the savory, satisfying dish. Now, it is one of the most popular take-out Chinese dishes in the United States.
Simply Food Premium Egg Noodles are perfect lo mein noodles. The noodles’ firm texture and bounce serve as an ideal foundation for the dish’s melange of ingredients.
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
6 ounces Simply Food Premium Egg Noodles
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 green onions, chopped. Separate white from green parts.
1/2 cup sliced mushroom
1/2 cup chopped cabbage
2 carrots sliced thin
1 red pepper, diced
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons mirin
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.
Cook Simply Food Premium Egg Noodles in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, stirring so they don’t stick together. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cool water until noodles no longer hot. Place cooked noodles in bowl, add one tablespoon of sesame oil and mix together.
Heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil in wok or skillet. Add white parts of green onion and all vegetables into the cooking vessel. Stir fry until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add mirin and scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon to incorporate caramelized vegetable into stir fry.
Add cooked noodles and about half of the sauce. Stir together.
Keep adding sauce and stirring until the dish reaches desired consistency.
Serve topped with remaining green onion.
Good Luck Noodle Recipe: Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Pork, Greens and Peanuts
We think of this dish as an ultimate good-luck charm. Noodles — our favorite good-luck food — anchor it. And then it includes pork, which symbolizes progress; greens, which represent wealth; and peanuts, which like all legumes (including the New Year’s standard in the American South, black-eyed peas) stands for prosperity.
Best of all, it is delicious and downright addictive.
12 ounces Simply Food Fresh Rice Vermicelli
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup unsweetened peanut butter
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 bunch greens, such as kale, cabbage or collard, sliced thin
2 scallions, sliced thin
Fill a large saucepan with enough water for the noodles to submerge while cooking. Add enough salt so that water tastes salty.
Cook Simply Food Fresh Rice Vermicelli noodles, per directions on the package. Drain, rinse under cold water, place in bowl, add sesame oil and blend with noodles to prevent them from sticking together.
Whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes and 1 cup water in a medium bowl.
Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add pork, stirring to break it up, for about five minutes or until cooked through.
Add ginger and garlic and continue cooking, stirring often, about 3-4 minutes. Add greens and continue cooking and stirring until the greens begin to wilt.
Add sauce and noodles. Cook, tossing now and again, until sauce is reduced by half and coats noodles, about 3-4 minutes.
Season with salt. Garnish with sliced scallion.
Good Luck Noodle Recipe: Vegetarian Pho
In Vietnam, the birthplace of the exquisite soup pho, beef serves as the foundation of the broth — and with pho, it’s all about the broth and the quality of the noodles.
Not everybody eats meat. But everybody does deserve the pleasures of a bowl of warm pho filled with silky rice noodles. We think this recipe achieves most of pho’s mysterious aromas and flavors without the beef. And it’s thick with good-luck noodles, too.
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into quarters
1 piece of fresh ginger, about 3 or 4 inches long
3 quarts water
2 leeks, cleaned and cut into thick slices
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced thick
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, including stems, roughly cut; or 4 dried shiitakes
1 head garlic, cut in half
3 stalks lemon grass, rough upper sections removed, the rest smashed with side of knife and sliced
2-4 teaspoons sugar, to taste
5 star anise pods
5 whole cloves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, between 2-4 inches long
2-4 tablespoons fish sauce, to taste (optional)
Blacken onion and ginger by either tossing into hot pan and moving around until things begin to char, or using tongs to hold pieces above open flame on a gas burner. Slice the ginger lengthwise.
Combine onion and ginger with water, leeks, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, lemon grass, salt to taste and 2 teaspoons sugar in soup pot. Bring to a boil.
Either tie spices in a cheesecloth or just toss them into the pot.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 60-90 minutes.
Add fish sauce, if using. Simmer for another 60-90 minutes.
Strain broth through strainer. Adjust salt and sugar to taste.
2 1/2 quarts vegetarian pho broth
12 ounces Simply Food Premium Pho Noodle
2 carrots, peeled and julienned into 1-inch sticks
6 ounces silken or soft tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup basil, preferably Asian or purple basil, torn into shreds
4 scallions, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, sliced thin
4 ounces bean sprouts
1 cup cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges
Bring pho broth to a simmer.
Separately, bring a pot of water to boil and add Simply Food Premium Pho Noodle. Cook according to directions on package. Drain, and divide the noodles into 6 large soup bowls.
Add carrots to simmering broth and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Ladle hot broth into bowls. Divide tofu among the bowls.
Let individual diners add their own embellishments: basil, cilantro, scallions, bean sprouts, jalapeño peppers, mint sprigs and lime wedges.
Serve with chopsticks for the noodles, and soup spoons for the broth.