The end of summer, the harvest and the autumn equinox have been celebrated around the world for millennia. In China, agricultural production was closely tied to the lunar calendar, so the Moon figured prominently in many folk traditions and mythology. This became a central theme in Autumn festivals, including offerings made to Chang’e, known as the Moon Goddess of Immortality.
Like Thanksgiving in the West, the Chinese Mid-Autumn, or Moon Festival focuses on family gatherings, gratitude for the harvest, and the promise of an abundant future. Not surprisingly, a rich and varied culinary tradition has developed around the feasts and family meals celebrated at this time of year. These feature seasonal ingredients like peanuts, green soybeans, duck, taro and garlic, as well as round, symbolic foods like pomelos and Moon Cakes that represent abundance, completeness and unity.
For this family banquet, Lejen Chen combines her interest in traditional rural Chinese foodways and local, organic ingredients for a very special 10-course tasting menu. This feast will cover the wide gamut of cooking methods common in China, from smoking, braising, and steaming to blanching, stir-frying and drying, and feature local, organic produce from Vicky’s Veggies’ and Marvellous Edibles.
Seaweed Roasted Peanuts
Beijing-style Smashed Cucumber Salad
Judge Chew’s Vegan Tofu with crispy garlic and shallots (George Chew is a judge in NYC who cooks amazing Chinese feasts — this is one of his trademark dishes that I love)
Braised Pork Belly with Sea Cucumber (Sea cucumber is a traditional banquet dish with high nutritional and medicinal properties)
Steamed Pearl Meatballs (organic beef dipped in mochi rice)
Seasonal Asian Greens
Sweet Corn Egg Drop Soup (made with local non-GMO sweet corn)
Taro Stir-fried Rice
Taro Ice Cream Mooncakes (grass-fed, local & organic Jersey cream)
Organic Oriental Beauty Tea
A Chinese-American native of Brooklyn, NY, Lejen Chen returned to China to open Mrs. Shanen’s, Beijing’s first bagel bakery! Dismayed by the difficulty of sourcing local organic produce and dairy, she went on to found Green Cow Farms, an organic farm and CSA that supplies her two popular Beijing cafés. She’s traveled extensively in China in search of heritage seeds, breeds and traditional Chinese comfort foods, which historically were mostly organic.
Every weekend The Depanneur invites a guest chef to host a fun, informal dinner party.