Though times are still far from normal, celebrating seasonal traditions has proven a powerful way of staying in touch with one another, even though that often has to occur from afar. With Chinese New Year now upon us once more, we have taken the time to select a few of our favourite emerging trends from recent reports.
With its distinct appearance and flavour, Lychee has become a big trend amongst the new year celebrations, with favourite treats and big name brands all getting a touch of pink from the popular fruit. Lychee are traditionally eaten for good fortune and symbolise family togetherness, but with brands such as Whittard making 'Lucky Lychee' tea and even Oreos producing a festive version of their classic sandwich cookie, it is rapidly becoming a mainstream feature.
We have witnessed a new generation of cooks take charge of Chinese cuisine, eager to introduce the public to a far more diverse and genuine reflection of Chinese cooking, shining a light upon regions and dishes which rarely appeared outside of the nation itself. The spicy flavours of Hunan and Sichuan have stepped forth, while the likes of Hakkan and Macanese have stretched many people's understanding greater than ever before. From dumplings to hot pots, a more regional showcase is a key factor in the modern Chinese cuisine we see around us today.
Considered one of China's eight traditional regional cuisines, Hunan food (also known as Xiang) is characterised by dishes which are stoked to the max with chilli and vinegar. With long, hot, humid summers and short, cold, damp winters - there are distinct seasonal differences in the cuisine; cold meat platters in the summer, for instance, and spicy bubbling hot pots in the winter. Hunan cuisine is experiencing a modern re-invention, poking its way into the mainstream with a couple of hot openings in New York. Plus, Hunan has also infiltrated culinary hot spots like Melbourne and Sydney - with the spicy cuisine finding its way onto bar menus and street food stalls.
Hakka is another of the many regional cuisines to have begun to surface within the mainstream, originating from the people of China's Central Plain who were driven out of their homelands by war and settled throughout China, East Asia, Taiwan, Malaysia and further afield. Hakka food is often compared to Cantonese cooking, but without the mouth-numbing peppers, with much of their cooking being more hearty and featuring preserved ingredients as a result of their nomadic lifestyle