No Chinese meal is complete without some rice. You can eat until you are bursting, but if you have not eaten at least one bite of rice, then all you have had is a “snack.” To leave rice out of a New Year’s meal would be very inauspicious.
Steamed rice (米饭; mǐ fàn) is the symbol of fertility, luck and wealth. Chinese garlic chives (韭菜; jiǔ cài) symbolize eternity/long life. For a New Year’s meal, this is the hope for a long life and a prosperous year to come.
When we moved to Chengdu Miriam was 3½ years old. When we put her in Chinese kindergarten we called her Mimi (咪咪, mī mī, kitty cat). Her Chinese teacher soon changed this to Mimi (谜咪; mí mī, riddle cat).
Mimi’s favorite school lunch was what she called confetti rice, garlic chives stirred into steamed rice. The chives look like blades of grass and when you chop them finely you get little green confetti-like squares. This was much better than her least favorite school lunch, “sloppy vegetables,” over-cooked winter melon.
Mimi’s Confetti Rice
1½ cups Jasmine rice, dry
¼ lb. Chinese garlic chive (about 1 cup)
1 tsp. black sesame seeds
1. Steam the rice.
Tip: I have found that for steamed rice, nothing beats an Asian rice steamer. Unless you have a huge family, I would not get a large one, but they make small, three cup ones that are perfect for most uses. You put in the dry rice, add water, push the button and walk away. Twenty minutes later you have perfect steamed rice.
2. Rinse and chop the chives.
3. Stir most of the chives into the hot rice. Reserve some of the chives for garnish.
Tip: The hot rice will slightly cook the chives.
chine4. Put the rice in a serving bowl and garnish with the sesame seeds and remaining chives.