Red and Green Salad For Good Luck – Veg of the Week

In this dish green (wood) red (fire) come together not to burn but to cool.

In this dish green (wood) red (fire) come together not to burn but to cool.

Preparing my previous post, in honour of the Lunar New Year, I discovered a world of traditions and beliefs that I knew hardly anything about. As the celebration of the Chinese New Year spans 15 days I thought I would take the chance to post some of the facts I discovered. But first about today’s recipe:

This salad with bean sprouts is one of these simple dishes that hardly deserve the name recipe, but it appears on my table regularly as it is quick, tasty and healthy. It goes wonderfully with Asian flavours and is a great contrast to hot and spicy foods. Every time I eat it I realize that I prepare bean sprouts much too rarely – they have such a delicate flavour and are so good for you.

And I decided it is the perfect dish to go with this post as the bean sprouts are combined with cucumber – green for wood – and tomatoes – red for fire – which come together into a wonderfully cooling salad for this fiery year.

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So here are 8 facts you might not know about the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Wood Horse (8 because that is a lucky number in China).

1) The Chinese zodiac – or Shēngxiào – is a calendar system originating in the Han dynasty (206-220BC), which names each of the years in its 12-year cycle after an animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, in that order. According to the system, the universe is made up of five elements – earth, water, fire, wood and metal – which interact with the 12 animals, resulting in the specific character of the year ahead. (Guardian)

2) Year of 2014 is Wooden Horse. Because Wood (tree) is connected to the color of Green. Therefore, 2014 is the Year of Green Wood Horse. (Chinese Fortune Calendar)

3)  Horse hour of Chinese Horoscopes is from 11am to 1 pm. Sunshine generates lots of heat during the Horse hour. Therefore, horse is connected to heat, fire and red.

4) Horses like the social activities, because horses like show off themselves. Since horse is a social animal and red is also connected to love, therefore. Horse is treated as a Romantic Star in Chinese Horoscope. (Apanache)

5) Horse is one of Chinese favorite animals. Horse provides people quick transportation before automobiles, so people can quickly reach their destinations. Horse even can help people to win the battle. Therefore Horse is a symbol of traveling, competition and victory. That’s why Horse is connected to speedy success in China. (Apanache)

6) But……Feng shui masters are talking about a hot – literally – 2014, with temperatures melting people’s brains and a propensity towards earthquakes and volcano eruptions.(RT)

7) It’s estimated that a sixth of the world celebrate Chinese New Year, including more than 1 billion Chinese citizens. Which results in one of the world’s largest human migration as Chinese workers travel home to their families for Chinese New Year. In 2010 an estimated 210 million hit the planes, buses and trains – the equivalent to the whole population of Brazil packing their suitcases. (Go Hong Kong)

8) And last but not least: foods to be eaten at New Year include

– uncut noodles – a symbol of longevity
– fish for abundance – as the word for fish in Chinese is a homophone for abundance
– fried egg rolls – a symbol of wealth as they look like gold bars
– dumplings – for wealth
– Shrimp – for happiness and joy
– Lettuce – for rising fortune as the word is near homophonous “to make money”
– Mandarins (especially with leaves intact) – for happiness
– Eggs – for prosperity








(adapted from ‘De complete Asiatische Keuken’)
Serves 3-4 as a side dish

150g green beans
100g bean sprouts
12 cherry tomatoes (about 150g)
1 cucumber
1 red chili
coriander or mint leaves
2 tbsp rice vinegar (alternatively apple vinegar)
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar


  1. Bring some water to the boil.
  2. Cut the ends off the beans and cut them in half. Cook the beans 5-7 min in boiling water until barely tender (without the lid on the pot, to keep them green).
  3. Toss in the bean sprouts for the last 30 secs (this kills off any bacteria and in my opinion improves the taste).
  4. Drain the beans and sprouts and immediately rinse with cold water (or even cool in ice water).
  5. Cut the tomatoes in half and place into a salad bowl.
  6. Cut the cucumber into wedges. (Cut the cucumber in half, cut each half into four pieces lengthwise and then into slices.) Add to the tomatoes and then toss in the beans and sprouts.
  7. Chop the chili (Serve separate if the dish should not be spicy otherwise) Place in a small bowl and combine with rice vinegar, lime juice and sugar.
  8. Dish can be prepared a little ahead up to this point. When you are ready to serve, toss the vegetables with the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  9. Chop mint or coriander leaves and sprinkle on top.

Tips & Variations

  • Add some cubed fresh cucumber
  • Dry fry some dried shrimp, grind to a powder and sprinkle on top
  • Add some chili sauce to the dressing

Serve with

The variations are endless, but I found this salad goes well with

  • Rich and spicy coconut curries
  • Thai Fish Cakes

The 8 bullets on the Lunar New Year are enough facts for one post. I will share with you how incredibly healthy bean sprouts are another time J

    • afracooking said:

      Thank you so much!

  1. What a beautiful looking salad and interesting facts to go along with it.

    • afracooking said:

      I especially enjoyed all the foodie facts – I have already started planning a Lunar New Year party for next year 🙂

  2. So happy to see the Chinese new year love being spread around. I remember how much I loved those tea eggs and it’s true, the chinese are incredibly auspicious about colours in both eating, wearing and gifts. I looked a tad funny, wandering around on New years day in my bright pink dress, carrying bouquets of flowers for the in-laws in both pink and red.

    Just a tad bright and no, (they’re actually not) chinese 😉 Kung Hei Faht Choi!

    • afracooking said:

      I am sure you meant to write “totally stunning” instead of a “tad funny” how can anyone carrying bunches of flowers look anything else 🙂 恭禧发财

    • Lol, I thought I wrote a typo initially! Unfortunately not… I did look a little vibrant and brightly coloured…like a Where’s Wally extra in a book 😉

      • afracooking said:

        haha! 🙂

    • afracooking said:

      Yes, its great way to add a little colour to a quick weekday dinner

  3. A simple but lovely crunchy salad & lovely colours too! 🙂

    • afracooking said:

      Thank you sweetie!

      • 😍😍

  4. This sounds fabulous! And a very hot 2014, eh? Interesting…

    • afracooking said:

      Yes, not too sure what to make of that – at the moment it is cold and a boring grey (although much warmer than it should be this time of year)

      • We’re much colder than usual here in N. IL, and I’d much prefer the heat. 🙂

  5. This looks really fresh and healthy! And I love the good luck colours 🙂 Great salad inspiration!

    • afracooking said:

      A new spin on eating food that is good for you 😉

    • afracooking said:

      With all this grey and gloomy weather I just needed something bright and cheery!

  6. Liz said:

    In that case, I would eat uncut noodles, dumplings and shrimp all the year round. I would live long, have a lot of money and still be happy. How lovely! Thanks for sharing so much information.

    • afracooking said:

      Actually sounds like a fabulous diet 🙂

  7. How lovely!
    I ❤ Chinese New Year! We always used to celebrate in China Town back in Aus. sadly no China Town in Stockholm 😦 My brother was born in the year of the horse… cool facts you posted!

    • afracooking said:

      🙂 Hope your brother is also having a good year full of fire and energy 🙂

      • Thanks, lovely! He is moving to LA for a couple of years, has just sold his house in Aus and is about to have a big exhibition in the States (he’s an artist), so it seems he is indeed 🙂 Thanks for the kind wishes! Hope your year will be wonderful too x

      • afracooking said:

        🙂 Sounds like the chinese horoscope predicted: if you are one to run with the horses, then you should 🙂 Wishing him luck 🙂

      • Very kind! Will do 🙂 All the best to you x

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