Does eating a certain food on the first day of the year actually bring good luck? We can’t answer to that – it’s hard to find scientific surveys that track the yearlong impact following black-eyed pea consumption on Jan. 1 – but with the new year approaching, we figure it’s not a bad idea to season family traditions with a little luck. We asked Chef Josh Fuller, of OHMS Cafe & Bar, to suggest some dishes containing foods with lucky associations.
His spicy lamb radicchio is served with rice noodles, which the Chinese traditionally associate with longevity. His turnip green-and-black-eyed-pea egg roll is the total package of Southern superstition. Greens have long been identified with financial prosperity, and the connection of eating black-eyed peas for luck dates as far back as the Civil War. When General Sherman’s Union troops ravaged the Confederates’ food supplies during the “March to the Sea,” they left behind the humble cowpea. Why? Because they considered it livestock feed rather than human food. The Southerners survived the winter on these black-eyed peas, and since then, they have symbolized good fortune.
As for the oyster shooters? They’ve long been the centerpiece of New Year’s celebrations in France, possibly because, well, the French absolutely love oysters. “Oysters and champagne I just associate with New Year’s Eve,” says Fuller. “Maybe they’re not necessarily lucky, but people eat them for different reasons.”
Oyster Shooters 12 fresh oysters Parsley leaves Small lemon wedges
Combine all mignonette ingredients and set aside. Shuck oysters, being careful not to spill any liquid. Place oyster and its liquid in chilled shot glass. Add 1 tablespoon mignonette then garnish with a parsley leaf and lemon wedge.
Makes 12 shooters
Spicy Lamb Radicchio Cups 1 pound ground lamb 1 tablespoon sesame oil ½ cup carrots, diced ½ cup onions, diced 1 tablespoon fresh ginger 1 tablespoon fresh garlic 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño 2 tablespoons hoisin 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon black pepper 1 radicchio head, cored and in ice water 1 package rice sticks 1 ½ quarts vegetable oil for frying Cilantro and green onion for garnish
Brown lamb on high heat and remove from pan. Add sesame oil, onion, carrots, ginger, garlic and jalapeño and saute for one to two minutes. Remove from heat and combine with lamb, hoisin, sriracha, soy and black pepper. Heat vegetable oil to 390 degrees. Drop small handful of rice sticks in oil and fry for about 5 seconds. The noodles will puff instantly. Remove with tongs and drain on a paper towel. Set aside. Gently pull leaves from radicchio to make cups. Spoon lamb mixture into cups and garnish with cilantro, green onions, and rice sticks.
Makes 10 to 12 cups
Black-Eyed Pea and Turnip Green Egg Rolls 1 bunch fresh turnip greens, washed and chopped 1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and chopped 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas ½ yellow onion, diced ½ cup julienne carrots 5 pieces bacon, diced Salt and pepper to taste 1 package egg roll wraps 1 ½ quarts vegetable oil
Chinese Honey Mustard Sauce: 1 cup prepared Chinese mustard 3 tablespoons honey
Combine mustard and honey and set aside. In saute pan cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon and add onion and carrots to pan. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes on high heat. Lower heat to medium then add greens and spinach. Cook until greens are tender and all of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat; add black-eyed peas, and salt and pepper to taste. Let cool. Form egg rolls as shown on package. Fry at 350 degrees, until golden brown.
Makes 12 egg rolls
Meet the Cook: Josh Fuller of OHMS Cafe and Bar
Josh Fuller doesn’t know what he would have done with his life had his mother not bought OHMS Cafe and Bar. Mary Fuller had begun catering and asked Jonathan Early, the restaurant’s original owner, if she could rent the kitchen to prepare for an event. Instead, he offered to sell her the entire restaurant. That was 1992, and at the age of 15, Josh found himself thrust into a family business. This one happened to be located on Tyler Street in the shadow of the Chase Tower downtown. Josh worked on-and-off at the restaurant through high school until moving to Phoenix in 1996 to attend a culinary institute.
“I worked at a bunch of different places once I got out, then moved back to Amarillo in 2002,” Josh says on a recent Monday afternoon, when the restaurant and bar are closed. “That’s when we changed the concept at OHMS. I’ve been here ever since.”
Before 2002, OHMS served a cafeteria-style lunch and dinner. “You would go through [the line], see everything first, and choose an entree,” he explains. “It was a buffet and we served beer and wine. When I got back, we got rid of that and went to full-table service at dinner.” He oversaw a remodel of one end of the space, turning it into a sophisticated cocktail bar with signature martinis and an extensive wine list.
Josh also began to develop a new menu, and before long, the cafeteria experience had given way to something else, becoming one of Amarillo’s most-loved fine dining destinations. “It’s definitely upscale. We specialize in steaks, seafood and wild game,” he says. “A lot of people say it’s like going to Santa Fe.”
With Dec. 31 occurring on a Saturday night this year, Fuller anticipates a busy evening at OHMS. “We’ll have a special New Year’s Eve menu with some higher-end offerings and champagne pairings along with our regular menu,” he says. OHMS has had its own share of new beginnings over the past couple of decades, making it an ideal choice to ring in the New Year.
by Jason Boyett
Jason is a journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, and the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent is “12 World Religions: The Beliefs, Rituals, and Traditions of Humanity's Most Influential Faiths”, published by Zephyros Press. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.