February 18, 2013

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy New Year!  Chinese New Year, that is.  It kicked off last Sunday, celebrating the year of the snake, and festivities will extend for another week.  We were too busy to cook up a meal last weekend, so we treated ourselves to a very traditional dim sum at Oriental East.  But with no work today, we had the time to out a menu together, trek out to H Mart, and whip up something tasty.

Chinese tradition is steeped in symbolism, and the new year's feast is no exception.  There are lucky dishes, and lucky foods, thought to bring you wealth, good health, longevity, prosperity, luck, etc.  Since it is just the 2 of us, we couldn't make everything, but we tried to cover most of our bases.  And we ended up with quite a bit of food.

The whole fish (from our CSA nonetheless), ensures a good start and finish, and to avoid bad luck throughout the year.  The potstickers are said to bring prosperity.  The long beans wish a long life for parents.  Soup and oolong tea are thought to be keys to good health for me, a water pig, and more specifically for Justin, a water dog, sizzling rice soup.

We started with potstickers, so we could nosh on something while we cooked everything else.  We used some ground pork, and mixed in ginger, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a little Chinese cooking wine.  Once that was all mixed together, it was time to make the dumplings!  You just put a dollop of the meat mixture in the middle of the wrapper, and dab a bit of water around the edges to get it to stick together.  You want the bottom to be flat so the dumplings can stand up in the pant.
Once all of your potstickers are made, put a little oil in the pan, and let the bottoms of your potstickers pan fry for a minute or two.  Once they're golden brown on the bottom, pour some water in the pan, throw the lid on, and let them steam for a few more minutes so they cook through.  Then just serve them up with a dipping sauce of black vinegar with minced ginger, and enjoy!
Next up was the shrimp with candied walnuts.  This is a dish you would typically see at a Chinese banquet, but it's one of Justin's favorites, so we figured, why not?  He peeled and deveined the shrimp, then tossed them in a little cornstarch.  The walnuts were tossed in a simple syrup, then tossed into the fryer for a minute.
The sauce for the shrimp isn't the healthiest; sweetened condensed milk, a little mayonaise, lemon juice, and a bit of honey.  But it has a nice sweetness to it.  The shrimp were tossed into the fryer next, and only took a couple minutes to cook up.  Then you just toss it in the sauce, and enjoy!

For the whole fish, we used the trout we got in our last share.  He was the perfect size for our giant feast.  This is one of the simplest dishes you could ever make.  Just fill a pan with a few inches of water, and add some green onion and ginger.  Once the water heats up, slide in your fish, and cover so he can steam.  After about 5 minutes, you can flip him over and let him cook for another 5 minutes.  Then place the fish on a plate/platter and top with some sliced green onion, ginger, oil and soy sauce.
The kung pao chicken cake together easily.  Cube up your chicken, and toss with some cornstarch, sesame oil, and some soy sauce.  Once its browned, add the green onions and dried red chilies.  The sauce is pretty simple too...just some soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, sesame oil, vinegar, water and a little cornstarch to thicken it.  Then toss in your peanuts and make sure everything is coated in the sauce.

The sizzling rice soup was also quite easy, and it sat on the stove while we cooked everything else.  The base consisted of some chicken broth, water, and some of the pork stock we had in the freezer from our pig head.  Then we added in some ground pork, shitake mushrooms, snow peas, and green onions.  We also threw in a couple shrimp, right before we were ready to eat, so they wouldn't get overcooked.  Once we ladled the soup into bowls, we added the crispy rice and let it sizzle!
And for our vegetable, we went with long beans.  They're similar to green beans, but longer and skinnier.  We just steamed those up in a pan with some onions, and a black bean garlic sauce.
We had quite a bit of food, but we wanted to try and get as many traditional/lucky foods into the mix as we could.  At least we have lunch for the rest of this week!

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