Chinese New Year starts February 3rd

Chinese New Year starts February 3, 2011

The Year of the Rabbit

During the Chinese New Year celebration, many foods and colors take on symbolic meanings. As we get closer to February 3rd, look for the items and more below in our stores to make sure you have what you need for your New Year’s celebration. Be sure to check out the Kumquat recipes below, too.

Here are a few interesting food symbolisms:

Tangerines and oranges (with their leaves intact) are passed out freely during Chinese New Year. The Chinese words for tangerine and orange sound like luck and wealth. It’s customary to take a few of these citrus fruits to celebrations as a way to pass along good wishes for the upcoming year.

Pummelos look like jumbo-sized grapefruits and symbolize abundance, prosperity and fertility. The Chinese word for pummelo sounds like the word for “to have.”

Kumquats, small, entirely edible fruits (you can eat the skin and all) that look similar to oranges, symbolize wealth for their golden color. Incidentally, in China, kumquats are called “Gam Gat Sue.” The word Gam rhymes with the Chinese word for gold. Kumquat trees are also used for decoration during the holiday.

Thai Broccoli and Yu Choy (pictured): Thai Broccoli does not look or taste like the ordinary broccoli. These greens have long stalks with soft delicate leaves and sometimes tiny white flowers. Yu Choy is a Chinese green renowned for its flowering sweet and tender stalks. Sigona’s has partnered with a small, local farmer in Fresno to bring you fresh cut bunches of Yu Choy and Thai Broccoli right from the farm.  See the recipe for a healthy stir-fry below!

Following are two recipes for Kumquats from our friend Luisa Ormonde. Luisa is a private chef and caterer based in San Carlos and we absolutely love getting recipes from her that help showcase our produce, meats and specialty foods. Enjoy!

Tri Tip Roast with Kumquat and Red Onion Salad

All the produce in this recipe is local and the combination of the Cara Cara oranges with Kumquats makes this dish burst with fresh flavor. Enjoy!


  • 2 pounds grass-fed Tri Tip Roast (Marin Sun Farms)
  • Kumquat, Green Peppercorn and Garlic Paste (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (We recommend Sigona’s Fresh Press olive oil)
  • ½ a fresh Cara Cara or navel orange, juiced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large bunch mâche lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh kumquats, thinly sliced and seeded
  • 1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves


  1. Set the Tri Tip in a large, shallow glass or ceramic baking dish. Add the Kumquat, Green Peppercorn and Garlic Paste and rub it all over both sides of the flank steak. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate the steak for at least 2 hours or overnight. Let the roast return to room temperature before grilling.
  2. Scrape the paste off the steak, *if desired, then grill or broil** the roast, turning once, until browned, about 12 minutes for medium rare. (**If broiling, position the shelf 8 inches from the heat. Broil the roast for about 5 minutes on each side, then set the oven to 375 and bake for about 16 minutes to reach desired doneness.) *NOTE: If the steak is cooked with the paste on, some of it may fall off when the steak is turned. Let the Tri Tip roast rest for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil with the orange juice. Season with salt and pepper and then whisk until the salt dissolves. Add the greens, kumquats and red onion and toss well, then transfer the salad to dinner plates.
  4. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the Tri Tip roast on the diagonally, across the grain. Arrange the slices on the salads. Garnish the plates with the cilantro leaves and serve the steak immediately.

Make Ahead Tip: The cooked steak can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Kumquat, Green Peppercorn and Garlic Paste

This flavorful paste can be used to marinate fish, poultry, pork or beef.


  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh kumquats (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (We recommend Sigona’s traditional balsamic)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon green peppercorns in brine, drained and coarsely crushed
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (We recommend Sigona’s Fresh Press olive oil)


  1. In a food processor, pulse the kumquats until finely chopped; do not puree. Transfer the kumquats to a small saucepan and add the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, light brown sugar and honey. Cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until the mixture reduces to a thick paste, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the paste to a bowl and let cool.
  2. In the processor, pulse the green and black peppercorns with the garlic and sea salt until the peppercorns are finely chopped. Do not puree the mixture. Add the scallions and cilantro to the processor and pulse to a coarse paste. Add the peppercorn mixture to the kumquat paste and stir in the olive oil until blended.

Make Ahead Tip: The paste can be refrigerated in a jar with a tight-fitting lid for up to 3 days.

Stir-Fried Greens

Follow directions for either Yu Choy or Thai Broccoli. For stir-fried Thai Broccoli, cook greens for 3 minutes. Enjoy — Carmelo Sigona


  • 1 bunch yu choy or Thai Broccoli
  • 1 tps. Sigona’s Fresh Press olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt

Directions: trim  ½” from each stalk. Cut the stems into 3” pieces. Heat a skillet over high heat until hot. Add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds. Add the Yu Choy or Thai broccoli and Stir. After about 30 seconds, it’ll start to wilt down. Stir bringing up the greens at the bottom to the top. Add salt to taste. Cook for 1 ½ minutes or until stems are tender. Serve immediately.

Yu Choy with Garlic and Mushrooms

Greens are very healthy and make an essential part of our diet. Hence, veggies are usually served as sides in most Asian meals. Try this yummy recipe!


  • 1 bunch Yu Choy, washed & drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press EVOO
  • 1/4 c chicken broth
  • 6-8 assorted fresh mushrooms, sliced (such as buttons or even diced chanterelles)

Directions: Heat the oil in your skillet or over medium to medium-high. Slice the Yu Choy into 2-3 inch pieces. Add the crushed garlic cloves to the EVOO and sauté for about 1-2 mins, making sure they don’t burn – adjust the heat a little if necessary. This infuses a little flavor in the oil.

Add the mushrooms and Yu Choy stems first as they’ll take longer to cook. Stir to coat in oil and cook for 2-3 mins, then add the leaves, stir for 1 minute then add the chicken broth and cover. Steam for 3 minutes or until stems are tender, but not too soft. The leaves and stems should still be bright green. Remove the garlic cloves.

For another layer of flavor, grate in some fresh ginger.

Serve over brown rice.

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