Chinese with Ease
All materials courtesy of: Kikkoman


Starting January 26, you've got a whole new reason - and a whole new season - to celebrate. It's the start of the 15-day Chinese New Year festival and the first day of lunar year 4707, the Year of the Ox.

Chinese New Year is all about spectacle, from the fireworks and dancing dragons to the fabulous food. That's why it's a holiday anyone can enjoy ... and a perfect time to host a party with a surefire theme and plenty of crowd-pleasing surprises.

Cooking Secrets
For most home cooks, the biggest surprise of all is that Chinese cooking can be both fun and easy. The secret is to start with foolproof recipes and high-quality, authentic sauces that do most of the heavy lifting for you.

And the good news is, they're no further away than the Asian section of your supermarket, where you'll find all kinds of ready-to-use Kikkoman sauces. In addition to the traditional flavors of teriyaki, sweet and sour and soy sauce, try some of the more exotic options such as the citrus-spiked soy sauce known as Ponzu. They're all made right here in the United States with North American ingredients, expertly blended and balanced for authentic Asian flavor.

Symbols Made Simple
From the décor and color scheme to the food, Chinese New Year is rich in beautiful symbols. If you've got a round table, this is the time to use it, because it is a sign of wholeness. Decorate it with red and gold accents to represent good luck and prosperity.

Noodles - in dishes such as Wonton Soup and silky Sesame Ginger Noodles - stand for longevity. Roasted Duck is a traditional New Year favorite, its golden color symbolizing good fortune for the year ahead. And Steamed Fish is a centuries-old sign of abundance.

Round Out the Menu
Supplement the meal with other symbolic foods, such as:
-store-bought pot stickers or spring rolls (said to bring prosperity because they resemble gold ingots)
-a bowl of tangerines or oranges (their Chinese names sound like the words for "luck" and "wealth")
-fortune cookies to go with dessert - you can even insert your own customized fortunes for the year ahead.

Click to View Full SizeGet the Guide
For more Chinese New Year entertaining tips and recipes, download Kikkoman's official Chinese New Year Celebration Guide at

Easy Chinese Roast Duck
Makes 4 servings
1 (4 to 5-pound) fresh or thawed duckling, quartered
3 tablespoons Kikkoman Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon five-spice powder*
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon ground pepper
Heat oven to 350°F. Rinse duckling; drain and pat dry. Discard excess fat; pierce skin thoroughly with fork. Combine soy sauce, sherry, five-spice, ginger and pepper in large bowl. Add duckling; rub with mixture and let stand 30 minutes.
Place on rack in shallow roasting pan, skin side up. Roast 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from oven; drain off pan drippings. Turn oven temperature to broil and raise oven rack 4 to 5 inches from heat source. Broil duckling 2 to 3 minutes or until skin is crisp.
*If five-spice powder is not available, combine 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seed, 1/2 teaspoon crushed anise seed, and 1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

Steamed Fish With Hot Oil
Makes 2 to 3 servings
3/4 pound sole fillets
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, slivered
2 green onions, slivered
1 tablespoon Kikkoman Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Arrange fish on heatproof plate that fits in bamboo steamer or on wire rack placed in large skillet with cover. Sprinkle ginger and green onions evenly over fish.

Combine soy sauce, sherry and sesame oil in small bowl. Pour enough water into wok or skillet to come about 1 inch below steamer or rack; bring to boil. Place plate in steamer or on rack. Cover and steam 2 to 3 minutes, or until fish flakes easily when tested with fork. Drain off liquid from plate; keep fish warm.

Heat vegetable oil in small saucepan until very hot; drizzle evenly over fish. Immediately top with soy sauce mixture.

Sesame-Ginger Noodles
Makes 4 servings
1 pound uncooked fresh Chinese-style thin egg
noodles, spaghetti, vermicelli or linguine
1/4 cup Kikkoman Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup sliced green onions and tops
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt; drain, rinse under cold water and drain thoroughly.
Combine soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, sugar, cornstarch and water. Heat vegetable oil in hot wok or large skillet over high heat. Add green onions and stir-fry 10 seconds. Add soy sauce mixture; cook, stirring, until sauce comes to a boil. Add noodles; cook, stirring, 1 minute or until sauce returns to boil and noodles are evenly coated with sauce. Remove from heat. Add sesame oil and sesame seeds; toss well to combine.

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Wonton Soup

Makes 6 servings
1/4 pound lean ground pork
2 ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled, deveined
and minced
2 tablespoons minced green onions and tops
4 teaspoons Kikkoman Soy Sauce, divided
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
24 wonton wrappers
3 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 pound bok choy
2 tablespoons chopped green onions and tops
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Combine pork, shrimp, minced green onions, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, cornstarch and ginger in medium bowl; mix well.

Arrange several wonton wrappers on clean surface; cover remaining wrappers to prevent drying out. Place 1 teaspoon pork mixture in center of each wrapper. Fold wrapper over filling to form a triangle. Gently fold center point down and moisten left corner with water. Twist and overlap opposite corner over moistened corner; press firmly to seal. Repeat with remaining pork mixture and wrappers.

Bring 4 cups water to boil in large saucepan. Add wontons. Simmer 3 minutes; remove with slotted spoon. Discard water; pour broth and sherry into same saucepan. Cut bok choy crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, separating stems from leaves. Add stems to broth mixture; bring to boil.

Add wontons; simmer 1 minute. Add bok choy leaves and chopped green onions; simmer 1 minute longer. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 teaspoons soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve immediately.

Did You Know?
The term "Wonton" comes from the Chinese phrase swallowing clouds.

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Raising Kids

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There's a saying that charity begins at home. And when it comes to raising children to be generous, giving people, that expression is quite literally true.

Schools, clubs, religious organizations, nonprofit organizations and civic groups often involve students in fundraising efforts or donation drives, but the best way to raise caring kids is to be a caring role model at home. When it comes to volunteering or donating money, for example, children are more likely to follow their parents' lead. The Corporation for National and Community Service says that nearly nine out of 10 young people who give their time have parents and siblings who also volunteer.

Major corporations are also lending a hand to encourage and support volunteerism by young people. One example is Build-A-Bear Workshop and its Huggable Heroes program, which recognizes young people between the ages of 7 and 18 who are giving back in their communities and beyond, and rewards them with scholarships, charitable contributions, networking opportunities and leadership training.

"Kids today are very aware of what's going on in the world and want to make a difference and we wanted to create a program that recognized their worthy efforts - large and small," said Maxine Clark, founder and chief executive bear at Build-A-Bear Workshop. "We've found that the first step is often as simple as identifying a problem and taking action to resolve it." And it doesn't always have to be about raising money.

Whether it's deciding to collect suitcases to give to foster children after seeing them carrying their belongings in a trash bag, or working to assemble packs filled with goodies and school supplies to send to children whose lives have been torn apart by a natural disaster, kids are finding creative ways to solve problems.

These are just a few real world examples of young people making a tremendous difference in the lives of others. Here are some easy ways to help your children put their feelings into action and develop a lifestyle of caring.

Let them choose a cause.
Children are more likely to stay with something they are really interested in. Whether it's working with animals, bettering the environment, reading, the arts or sports, help them find volunteer areas that they'll enjoy. Does your teenage son love soccer? Perhaps he can coach a team of underprivileged kids. Does your daughter love animals? Maybe she can start a drive to raise funds and supplies for a local rescue shelter.

Click to see Full SizeMake it a family affair.
Doing something together can bring the whole family closer together.
-Volunteer as a family to rake the neighbor's yard, help sort food at a food bank, or set up a lemonade stand or a bake sale to raise money for a cause your family is passionate about.

-Sponsor a child through an international organization that provides clothing, food and education for children. Your family will get pictures and updates about that child, and you can take turns writing him or her letters.

-Set a family fundraising goal for the year. Decide as a family to raise a certain amount to support a specific cause. Keep a big jar on the kitchen counter so that everyone can drop in their spare change and parts of monthly allowances to help meet that goal. At the end of the year, count it all up and turn it in together.

Get others involved.
-A growing number of children are engaging their friends in charity work by turning birthday parties into opportunities to serve. Instead of everyone bringing presents, they bring a toy to donate to children in need or new clothing for a homeless shelter. Everyone still has a great time with games and cake, and they feel great knowing they've helped someone else.

-Another fun way to let kids help other kids is to host a charity bear-making party. Schedule a birthday party at a Build-A-Bear Workshop store with the goal of having the children make special animals that they will donate to a children's hospital. To make the giving even more special, they can make one of several stuffed animals that give back - sales support animal shelters nationwide, the World Wildlife Fund, First Book and other children's literacy initiatives, or children's health and wellness programs.

There are thousands of young people taking action and making a difference every day. Some of them receive recognition but the best reward they get is seeing how they're making their world a better place.

Actions speak louder than words. Help your kids make a difference by taking action today.

Wanted - Extraordinary Kids
Do you know a young person who is making a big difference in the community, neighborhood, school or around the world?

Each year, thousands of people help identify the best young leaders in the United States and Canada by nominating them to be a Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Hero.

This year, 12 young people between the ages of 7 and 18 will be selected and named Huggable Heroes. Each will receive an education scholarship and donation to the 501(c)(3) charity of his/her choice.

Entries will be accepted from January 16 through February 27, 2009. Nominate a candidate online or download an entry form by visiting You can also pick up an entry form at any Build-A-Bear Workshop store in the U.S. and Canada.

Photo of teens:
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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