With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparation, I almost forgot about our Winter Solstice Festival or Dongzhi Festival dinner! It usually falls a few days before Christmas. When winter solstice falls on a weekday, we would have our dinner the weekend before the actual day. My mom makes a huge Chinese dinner with lots of different dishes. For these dinners, she makes special dishes that she normally doesn’t make for her usual Sunday dinners.
This year, we were also lucky to have my uncle make this special dish called Eight Treasure Duck. The duck is deboned and stuffed with eight “treasures” which consist of lotus seeds, chestnuts, red dates, dried shrimp, glutinous rice, salted duck egg, Chinese mushroom, and Chinese sausage. It’s braised until the meat is tender.
For dessert, we have tangyuan (湯圓) or balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize reunion. My paternal grandmother used to make tangyuan all the time. But my mother buys them from the grocery store since it’s time consuming to make them from scratch.
I look forward to eating these Memorable Dishes every time we have a special Chinese holiday to celebrate. Since we moved to North America, the smaller Chinese holidays and festivals might not be celebrated as prominently as we did in Hong Kong or China. But having these special dinners help us remember the Chinese festivals and special occasions. I am hoping to continue passing on these “eating” traditions to my children 😀