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Chinese Holiday a Time to Feast

January 28, 1988

Next Thursday marks the beginning of a new year--the Chinese New Year which, according to the cyclical 12-year Chinese zodiac, marks the year of the dragon.

Legend has it that an ancient emperor invited all the animals to a feast, but only 12 appeared, so he established a year to honor each one. The Chinese believe that people born under each sign have certain traits typical of the animal.

Dragon year people are said to have a fiery reputation based on their outward display of stubbornness and short temper. But underneath they are honest, brilliant, gentle, sensitive, brave and soft-hearted. People born under this sign are considered fortunate because the dragon represents the greatest celestial power. It symbolizes life and growth and brings blessings of longevity, riches, virtue and harmony.

The annual holiday is celebrated with parades, fireworks and feasting. A multi-course Chinese meal may not be your forte, but you can still welcome the new year with a dinner featuring Tan-Chuan.

The meat filled and rolled crepes are gently steamed, then cut diagonally into quarters. Serve with cooked rice and stir-fried pea pods. For a traditional sweet finishing touch, pass festive red "lucky" candies, available this time of year at many Chinese grocery stores and gift shops.

TAN-CHUAN

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon dry Sherry

3/4 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork

2/3 cup chopped green onions

1 teaspoon minced ginger root

1 clove garlic, pressed

6 Oriental Crepes

Combine soy sauce, cornstarch and Sherry in large bowl. Add beef, pork, green onions, ginger and garlic, mixing until thoroughly combined. Spread 1/2 cup meat mixture evenly over each crepe, leaving about 1/2-inch border on 1 side. Starting with opposite side, roll up crepes jellyroll fashion.

Place crepes, seam side down, on heat-proof plate placed on steamer rack. Set rack in pot or wok over boiling water. Cover and steam 15 minutes. Cut rolls diagonally into quarters. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Oriental Crepes

4 eggs

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

3 teaspoons oil

Beat eggs in a large bowl using a wire whisk. Combine water, cornstarch, soy sauce and sugar. Pour into eggs and beat well.

Heat an 8-inch omelet skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Brush bottom of pan with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Reduce heat to low. Re-beat egg mixture and pour 1/4 cup into skillet, lifting and tipping pan from side to side to form thin round crepe.

Cook 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until firm. Carefully lift with spatula and transfer to sheet of wax paper. Continue procedure, adding 1/2 teaspoon oil for each crepe. Makes 6 crepes.

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