Chinese New Year is a big deal in Vancouver, since we have one of the largest Asian populations in North America, but this coming lunar year is particularly important to me because it is ‘my’ year (I was born in the year of the snake, although I will let you guess what year it was). I am instantly feeling luckier as the Chinese New Year nears, and am trying to follow as many traditions and superstitions as I can to improve my chances.
Like many other cultural celebrations, Chinese New Year festivities are centred around food and its many bounties, as well as symbolism. There are 10 foods that should be included in the celebrations, with one in particular involving the serving of a whole fish, from head to tail, signifying bounty and wealth for the year ahead. Well, I guess I should have done my research before getting all excited about preparing fish for dinner tonight, but I didn’t. Instead, I bought what looked to be the freshest fish (sole filets) at the fish market, and prepared the following dish, accompanied by my Mother’s potato salad and some leafy greens (again, I should have left these intact for more prosperity, instead of chopping them into bite-sized pieces).
Although I have behaved sacrilegious and have contributed to the chagrin and dismay of a great many Chinese New Year celebrants, I want to emphasize that this dish was simple and delicious, so perhaps you can try making it on another night. All I did was to wash the filets and pat them dry, sprinkle them with seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne or your favorite fish rub), and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. As this was happening, I melted 2 Tbsp of butter, added this to the juice of one lemon, and chopped 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, all of which I combined. Once the fish was cooked, I drizzled the dressing on top of the sole filets and enjoyed the most delicious bite of fish I’ve ever had. Perhaps luck is going to be my lady after all this year of the Snake.