Grace Hwang Lynch

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That

Grace Hwang Lynch

Grace Hwang Lynch
Silicon Valley, California,
December 31
I'm a former television news reporter. Currently a communications consultant, freelance writer, and mother of two. I write about raising a multicultural family at HapaMama, and I'm also the News & Politics Editor at BlogHer. My work has been published in several magazines and newspapers, as well as in the anthologies "Lavaderia: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash and Word" and "Mamas and Papas:On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting" by City Works Press. Follow me on Twitter: @HapaMamaGrace


Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 26, 2011 4:11PM

Chili for Chinese New Year

Rate: 15 Flag
chinese chili

Early in my marriage, my husband and I were trying to make plans for a certain weekend at the end of January. It was Chinese New Year, and I wanted to visit my family several hours to the north of where we lived. My husband, however, had other ideas.

"My parents are having a big party. All the relatives will be there," he explained.

"But it's tradition to spend this weekend with my side of the family," I countered.

"Why? They don't even watch the Super Bowl!"

Count it as one of the joys of a mixed-race marriage. We bring some really different cultural perspectives into our lives. One spouse's important cultural tradition is... well, the same day as the other  person's important cultural tradition.  Fortunately, Chinese New Year is a determined by the lunar calendar, meaning it's a moving target — in mid-January one year, late February other years.

This year, Chinese New Year begins on February 3, meaning the Packers and the Steelers will have to face another contender: the Rabbit. As in, Year of the Rabbit.

I set out to create a dish that would spice up the standard Super Bowl  chili with some Asian flavors. Chili, with its ground meat and spicy red sauce has always reminded of a couple homegrown Chinese dishes: ma pa tofu (with its ground pork, cubes of bean curd, and hot bean sauce) and lo ba bung. What is lo ba bung? It's a dish rarely served in restaurants, but commonly made at home — Taiwanese comfort food. Minced or ground pork is simmered with soy sauce, rice wine, and five-spice, making a simple, hearty meal. Sort of like chili.

Chinese New Year Chili

Chinese spices


2 cloves shallots, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

2 slices fresh ginger

1 lb. ground pork

1 tsp. Five spice powder 1

1 tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. bean paste with chili 2

1/4 c. soy sauce

1 Tbs. Shao Xing Jiu (Chinese rice wine, you can substitute Johnny Walker or a splash of lager)

1 Tbs. sugar

3-4 inch strip orange peel

1 can diced tomatoes, with green chile is a nice touch

2 cans black beans



  1. Heat a small amount of oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot.
  2. Saute shallots, garlic and ginger until softened
  3. Add ground pork, cook until browned
  4. Add five-spice powder, white pepper, and bean paste (if using). Saute these spices until they are fragrant.
  5. Add soy sauce and wine, then tomatoes and beans
  6. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, or as long as you have time
  7. Serve in bowls, garnished with cilantro or sliced green onions. You can also serve it over rice, like lo ba bung, or simmer it down until it's thickened and make sloppy joes with sweet white rolls, like Hawaiian bread.

Serves 4-6


1. Five-spice powder is made of fennel, anise, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. You can also substitute 1-2 pieces of star anise, a cinnamon stick and a dash of the other spices.

bean paste   

2. Bean paste is found in Chinese specialty markets. It lends a nice, earthy touch to the dish. But if you can't find it, use some regular Chinese chili sauce (the kind found in glass jars at restaurants) or Sriracha. They won't add the complexity of the hot bean paste, but they will add heat.

All Text and Images, © 2011 Grace Hwang Lynch









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Grace, this looks amazing! I really want to try it. Thanks for another beautiful and delicious looking post.~r
Wow, you are fast! I know you always joke about your cooking, but this is an easy recipe, you should try it ;)
Interesting! I hadn't thought of chili being similar to dishes from other ethnic cuisines, but I guess a spicy meat stew is probably pretty ubiquitous. I'm glad you found that commonality and hope that it's a big success!
I am a terrible cook, but I still believe I just need the right recipes!
Grace.. once again you ahve hit it out of the ball park.
rated with hugs
Those ingredients look very reasonable too! For the bean paste with chili, would this work? It's Korean miso+chili paste. It's usually used as a sauce though, not cooked.
Karin, that kind is much more like miso. The kind I used has more of a whole bean texture with chiles mixed in. Although it might be an interesting experiment to use the Korean bean paste...
excellent piece and the recipe is an inspiration. ma pa tofu is one of my all-time favs. yummmm.
This sounds super yummy! Goodness, I have a lot of OS recipes to make! x0x
I forgot! Happy New Year, Happy Year Of The Rabbit, and Happy 4709! xox
Ah right...because bean paste isn't fermented. Thanks Grace. :-)
I'm a monkey and my horoscope says that the rabbit and metal element will bring out my competitive, aggressive, cold, and sometimes insensitive side. So, catch me while I'm still nice! Xiao xing jiou and 5-spice have moved to the front of my pantry in recent weeks and this sounds like the most interesting chili variation I've seen in years.
Grace, this sounds sooo wonderful on a cold January night. I'd love to have a bowl of this right now. Great photos & recipe & story - Happy Year of the Rabbit!
A spectacular adaptation , and very intriguing, even for someone who doesn't eat meat (it looks adaptable and damn tasty, even without the meat.)

I had a similar experience with my husband's family -- for every Superbowl, they had family come in from Lousiana and bury a WHOLE PIG! I was horrified!! Watching my son come up the path gnawing on a pig hood is an image I won't soon forget. It should have been a sign -- he still won't give up meat!
Paul, one of my kids is a Monkey- that explains a lot! Hope you find a creative outlet for your competitive side ;)

Lucy, thanks as always for stopping by. If you make it for kids, start out with half the amount of 5-spice. It can be an acquired taste. But it passed with my Kindergartener!

Bell, that pig imagery is frightening. I like pork, but not that realistically.
Delicious post, Grace. I love the addition of the orange peel and the star anise. Rated "R" for Rabbit. Happy New Year!
Hi Grace. As usual, you put unique elements from your cultural heritage into your gorgeous food. Happy Bunny Year! :) Rated
Grace, what a creative take! Happy New Year!
I can't wait to try this, the 5-spice powder and bean paste sound like great adaptations! Great post.
This sounds tasty--kind of like the topping for ja jiang mien with tomatoes and beans. I'll have to try this one soon!
This looks really yummy. I'm going to give it a try. Soon A's I can dig out from this snow storm and get to the grocery store.
Delicious! I wonder if I can get my Javanese wife to cook it for me.