many cultures have special foods to celebrate the new year. in germany, sauerkraut brings you good luck, in the american south collard greens enhance your fortune, and the danish eat kale. in japan, mochi is an important new years food, prawns will bring you a long life, sweet beans will bring you good health, and sweet potatoes will bring you happiness.
especially important this year, greens for financial fortune. some believe the more greens you eat at the start of the new year, the greater your financial rewards in the coming year. well, after the last few years, i didn't want to take any chances. so we've eaten lots and lots of greens this week. and added in some sweet potatoes for extra happiness, which is always an important ingredient in any year.
new year's day we started out at dim sum eating lots and lots of chive dumplings, hargow shrimp dumplings and sauteed chinese greens. then at dinner that night i made swiss chard, one of my favorite greens, and japanese mountain potatoes (dense sweet potatoes). delicious. super easy to prepare.
swiss chard sauteed with garlic
2 large bunches swiss chard
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 TBSP olive oil
2/3 cup water
wash the chard. strip the leaves from the stems with your hands or with a knife. trim the stems into 1 inch lengths. next, tear the leaves into large bite size pieces.
heat a large saute pan on medium high heat. add the olive oil and toss in the garlic, swirl around for about 1 minute. add in the chard stems and the 2/3 cup of water. bring to a boil and cover. let simmer for about 8 minutes on medium heat, until tender. stir occasionally, check to make sure there is still some water in the pan so nothing burns. add in the chard leaves and the teaspoon of salt. bring the heat back up to high and saute for 4-5 minutes until the leaves are wilted. now, for the secret technique, turn the heat down to the lowest low, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. the chard and garlic will steam and caramelize and sweeten beautifully.
roasted japanese mountain potatoes*
(these look just like american sweet potatoes with slightly more purple skins and a denser, more yellow flesh)
4 large japanese yams
a sprinkling of salt
preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
scrub potatoes. rub with a little olive oil. sprinkle with salt. place on small foil lined baking sheet. place sheet in preheated oven and bake for 60 minutes. serve with butter. yum. dense, rich and sweet, great texture.
health, happiness and good fortune all around.
*japanese mountain potatoes or yams are available sometimes at whole foods and almost always at japanese groceries and asian groceries. any sweet potatoes or yams can substitute for the japanese variety.