The Chinese New Year, 2018 being the Year of the Dog, began on Feb. 16. Celebrations continue for two weeks, so I thought it was appropriate to feature Chinese cuisine. The Chinese New Year occurs on a different date each year, because it is based on the lunar calendar. Of course, food is part of the celebration. I learned, the custom in Northern China is to eat dumplings, at midnight; the dumpling’s shape resembles a Chinese sycee, a form of ingot currency used in Imperial China and represents prosperity for the New Year. In Eastern and Southern China, niangao, a glutinous New Year cake, is made. Over the course of a few days, pieces are shared with friends and relatives. The reunion dinner is a celebration, often the most important gathering of the family the entire year. Long noodles are frequently served, symbolizing longevity.

I have attended my good friend Cristina Chang-Bryant’s Chinese New Year party for the past several years. Sadly, Cristina passed away in June. However, the tradition lives on in her honor. This past Sunday, her husband, Tom, invited friends and family to celebrate. I know she was watching us and probably had a few laughs watching Tom facilitate the gathering. Cristina was a chef and took charge. Tom, on the other hand, had friends and family help pull it off. Cristina, I know you are happy that your tradition lives on and so does many of your recipes.

In thinking about what Chinese inspired dish to prepare for the gathering, I looked at the Kikkoman website http://bit.ly/2BShiL0. Kikkoman is known for its line of soy sauces, an indispensable ingredient in Japanese and Chinese cuisines. Today, a pantry is incomplete without a bottle of soy or teriyaki sauce. These “liquid spices” are found in kitchens around the globe. Not only did I find mouth-watering recipes, but also learned about this iconic and well-known brand. The company celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. The businesses’ roots I found out, go back to 1603. Talk about longevity.

First, prepare the Chinese noodle according to the package instructions. This should take no more than about 3-4 minutes, as they cook quickly. Once they're done, rinse with cold water and return to pot. Then, drizzle with sesame oil and toss to coat. This is to prevent the noodles from sticking. (TIP- also add a few drops of oil to the water the noodles are cooked in the help them not stick together)

Then, in a frying pan or wok over high heat, add together chopped garlic, shredded ginger, red pepper flakes, and peanut oil. Heat for approximately 30 seconds, about 1 minute until it's sizzling a bit, and you can smell the scents wafting through the air. Add into the frying pan your sliced mushrooms and cabbage. (TIP: after rinsing, the mushrooms should be soaked in warm water for approximately five minutes. Then remove from water, remove stems, and slice caps thinly to prepare for cooking) Stir all of the ingredients together in the frying pan until the veggies are slightly tender.

Remove the veggies from the pan, and pour into the pot of cooked Chinese noodles. Mix together slowly and well, making extra sure not to break the noodles. Return the mixture to the frying pan. Now over medium heat, add in 2 tablespoons Kikkoman Soy Sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, and the green onions. Turning frequently, ensure that the dish is completely coated in the soy sauce mixture. Remove from frying pan, and serve promptly. Makes 4 servings.

In continuing my search for recipes, I found a cookbook in my ever-growing collection, titled “Soy Sauce Cooking.” Coincidentally, the recipes are from the Kikkoman Recipe Contest, held in 1981. Although it is a cookbook using soy sauce, I didn’t expect to see soy sauce as an ingredient in the four dessert recipes included; Japanese tea ice cream, Shoga-Shoyu chiffon cake, topsy-turvy pineapple cake and 5-spice pumpkin cake For the latter visit: http://bit.ly/2GfiHsX

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vodka and sugar. Stir to mix and set aside. Heat the oil in a wok and fry the green beans in several batches for about 20 seconds each batch. Remove beans from the work and place beans on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. When all of the beans are fried, drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok. Turn the heat to high and stir- fry the garlic and red pepper for 10-15 seconds. Return beans to the wok and stir-fry to coat with the garlic. Add the soy-vodka-sugar mixture and stir-fry for a few seconds until beans are well-coated. Transfer beans to a serving dish, pour any of the remaining sauce over the beans and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Whisk all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently for 5-6 minutes. Take saucepan off heat and allow to cool and thicken. When your ham has a ½ hour left in the oven, brush glaze over entire ham and put back in oven for last ½ hour of heating time. Covers 1 spiral ham.

Send us your requests: Which restaurant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? Which food products are you having difficulty finding? Do you have cooking questions? Send them to me: Stephen Fries, professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, at gw-stephen.fries@gwcc.commnet.edu or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 06510. Include your full name, address and phone number. (Due to volume, he might not be able to publish every request. For more, go to stephenfries.com.)

Consiglio’s Cooking Demonstration and Dinner: Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m., Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reservations required), $65 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Learn how to make oysters Rockefeller, baby spinach bacon orange pine nut vinaigrette, homemade lobster ravioli with plum tomato cream sauce, white chocolate creme brulee.

Wines and More of Milford: Fratelli’s 6-course Italian Wine Dinner, Feb. 26, 6:30 p.m., Fratelli’s Italian Restaurant, 248 New Haven Ave., Milford. 203-876-1600. $75 includes tax and gratuity. http://bit.ly/2nth0k7

Wild game & Beer dinner, Feb. 27, 7:00 pm., The Hops Company, 77 Sodom Lane, Derby. 203-734-1616, $75 plus tax and ticketing fee. 5-course dinner paired with Counter Weight Brewing. For menu and ticket visit http://bit.ly/2Cp6rDW

“Chefs of Our Kitchen” 2018 Series begin with: A culinary take on “This Is Us”: Siblings Elena Fusco, owner/founder of Bin 100 (Milford), Gennaro “Gerry Iannaccone, owner/chef at Goodfellas; and their nephew, Paul Iannaccone, co-owner/chef at Ristorante Lucé (Hamden) March 7, 6 p.m., Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven. 203-285-2617. $85. Tickets at http://bit.ly/2j24HH9. Enjoy a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception and then watch the chefs demonstrate the preparation of popular dishes from their restaurants, which will be served. Guests receive recipe cards signed by the siblings. The recipes demonstrated will be prepared by Gateway Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management students.