In our household, I fondly refer to the months from October to February as Celebration Season. The holidays begin with Thanksgiving in October, followed by Stephen’s birthday, then mine in November, Christmas, Lunar New Year and wrap up at the end of February with Alivia’s birthday. Lunar New Year has always been one of my favourite holidays of the year. My family immigrated to Canada from China when I was 5 years old and celebrating new year was one way I felt connected to all of my relatives back home. Every year, we called my grandmothers and I awkwardly wished them good fortune in Mandarin before getting my red pockets. Once the Internet was a thing, my family would wake up early and watch the live stream of the New Year’s Eve variety show, always hoping it landed on a non work/school day. As I grew older and my parents more settled in their Canadian careers, they were able to take the day off and we would spend the day watching TV, making dumplings and playing card games.
Since marrying Stephen, whose family is from Hong Kong, we’ve incorporated his family’s traditional dishes into our New Year’s menu as well. His mom makes trays of turnip cake and nian gao for us and his dad fills the new year candy box with candied coconut, lotus root, winter melon and more.
This year, we tried our hand at making gok jai, a deep fried dumpling, that’s a traditional Cantonese New Year dish. The dumpling is made from a glutinous rice flour wrapper and can have a sweet or savoury filling. We went the savoury route using turkey breast and shiitake mushrooms. The lean turkey was delicious with the filling seasoning and paired nicely with the heavier dumpling wrapper. Each dumpling just needs a dime sized ball of filling as the glutinous rice flour is seasoned and puffs up when fried. For a healthier option to deep frying, we also cooked a batch of dumplings in the air fryer. The wrappers didn’t puff up as much, but still delicious and a great alternative. Using the air fryer is also much safer without having to worry about hot oil. As the dumplings cook, the air inside expands and the dumpling can spring a leak leading to oil splatter, so a splatter guard is key.
For more inspiration and recipes featuring turkey, visit www.ThinkTurkey.ca
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Turkey Farmers of Canada. All ideas and opinions expressed are wholly mine.