Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen

Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Lunar New Year and
Martin Yan's Feasts

by Kate Heyhoe


The Kitchen God burns bright, rising on his paper steed through the smoke into the heavens. Firecrackers pop, dragons roar, and children dance. Families feast on Golden Lion Heads, pommelos, and kumquats. For the next few days, Asian communities welcome the Lunar New Year with feasts, reunions, colorful celebrations and the most important festival of the year, the Lantern Festival.

I first became acquainted with these New Year customs through Martin Yan. Most people know Martin as the affable, wok-slinging, cleaver-wielding chef of television's Yan Can Cook series. Despite his light-hearted image as a clever Chinese punster, he's one of the culinary community's most scholarly chefs, and his serious attention to the details of Asian cultures and cuisines is revealed in his most recent books, Martin Yan's Feast and Martin Yan's Asia. Martin taught me how different foods—minced vegetables, the cupping of foods in lettuce leaves, and the presentation of oranges and tangerines—are used to suggest wealth and prosperity in the New Year.

Martin Yan

I first interviewed Martin in the Year of the Pig, 1995. He graciously filled my keyboard with a wealth of fascinating information about China, food and himself. Since then, I've interviewed Martin in the Year of the Rat, 1996, and you can visit this Martin Yan Interview in our archives. As we enter the Year of the Rabbit, Martin is currently in China, so in lieu of an interview, I present Martin's tips for Entertaining Asian-Style, plus some of his outstanding recipes for a Lunar New Year Celebration from the two books mentioned above.

Fun Facts on Lunar New Year


Martin Yan's Asia



Martin Yan's Feast



Entertaining Asian-Style

Martin Yan Interview (1996)

Hong Kong


Join me for a new look at old friends every weekend in February.

02/06/99—Nick Malgieri, author of Chocolate
02/13/99—Marcel Desaulniers, author of Death by Chocolate
02/20/99—Barbara Tropp, author of the Modern Art of Chinese Cooking and the founder of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs
02/27/99—Martin Yan, Yan Can Cook TV host and author.


Copyright © 1999, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.


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This page created February 1999