Make your own Lunar New Year celebration with these classic Chinese flavors.

Japanese Noodles Are Everywhere (and We’re Not Complaining)
Thomas J. Story

Hand Cut Noodles All Day, Every Day

chow mein, noodles, chinese,

Fahim R./Unsplash

Bay Area dwellers know that one of the best destinations for hand cut noodles can be found in Oakland’s Chinatown at Shan Dong. The restaurant draws lines in front of its tiny storefront daily, as fans line up to order sesame noodles, chow mein, and pork dumplings. Luckily, there’s entertainment on display, as the restaurant’s chefs deftly roll, cut, and stretch noodles and dumpling wrappers in the window. The sought after noodles are tender but chewy, and come coated in a variety of sauces. Among other options, there’s chow mein (beef and tomato or shrimp are my faves), noodles with meat sauce, noodles with preserved vegetables and pork, and my favorite, the aforementioned sesame paste noodles. They’ve become a signature at the restaurant, for good reason: The noodles are bathed in nutty, spicy sauce and topped with sauteed greens to create super comfort food. To make at home, you’ll need Chinese sesame paste, like this one from Mala Market; in a pinch, you can use Kadoya Sesame Oil with a dollop of peanut butter to emulsify the sauce. (This recipe will guide you.) Take note, however, that Middle Eastern sesame paste (tahini) is no substitute—the rich flavor of Chinese sesame paste is the result of roasting the sesame seeds to a deep brown, rather than the lightly toasted seeds used in tahini. —Ellen Fort, food editor

The $5 Dumpling Maker You’ll Find in Almost Every Chinese American Home

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Courtesy of Harold Import Company, Inc.

Firsthand experience tells me that you’ll find this white-colored, plastic, very utilitarian dumpling maker in the kitchen drawer of many Chinese American households. We have one at my parents’ house that we bought years ago at our local Asian kitchen supply store. Today, you may be more likely to buy it on Amazon. (When the dumpling craving hits, one-day shipping is there to save the day.)

Dumplings aren’t reserved for Lunar New Year, but the holiday does give you an excuse to break out this trusty $5 tool and make a batch of plump pork and chive pot stickers to gift to family members (brownie points with grandma!) or freeze and keep yourself as a last-minute, fail-safe dinner. I like to really stuff each dumpling wrapper with as much filling as I can before pressing down and sealing it for good; others have better self-control when it comes to filling-size preference. Either way, a dumpling press is necessary. Wrapping a bunch of pot stickers by hand is idealistic but not practical, and I’m a practical woman. Whether they’re steamed or pan-fried is up to you. —Maya Wong, assistant editor

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Buy it now: Helen’s Asian Kitchen Dumpling Press

Recipes to get you started:

More to read this week:

Thomas J. Story

  • A complete guide to the noodles, broths, and vegetables of Asian food markets from Top Chef’s Melissa King.
  • Not prepared to host a full-on hot pot feast? These Cold Takeout-Style Noodles are a great option for a flavorful, no-fuss Chinese dish. 
  • Make this hearty, vegetarian Mu Shu Mushroom this weekend and live your best umami-packed life.

Looking for more inspiration? Head over to Sunset Recipes for our winter cooking highlights.