Chinese New Year – Monday 8th February 2016 – the year of the Monkey.
I was born in the year of the Tiger, which according to the Chinese Zodiac means I am courageous; without caution, which leads to recklessness. Hmmm, not sure if that describes me well or not.
Chinese New Year is celebrated sometime between 21st January to 20th February. The Lunar Cycle determines the actual date. It is believed that a good start to the Chinese New Year will bring good fortune for the rest of the year. Families get together to celebrate, gifting red envelopes as a sign of good luck, homes and buildings are decorated with red attire, and red lanterns adorn the streets.
What a great time to enjoy some traditional Chinese cuisine. Rather than picking up the phone and ordering a take away, why not try cooking your favourite take out meal at home?
A favourite of mine is Sweet and Sour Chicken. Has to be Cantonese style though, without the chicken coated in batter. Healthier, and better for us. Served on a bed of egg-fried rice. Delicious. With the majority of the ingredients found in your kitchen cupboards, no special shopping lists are needed. Grab your ingredients first and set them out, many Chinese dishes cook quickly, over a high heat, so we don’t want anything to burn!
Heat up your wok to a high temperature; add a splash of olive oil. When oil is hot, but not smoking, add chopped chicken breast, onion and crushed garlic. Cook for about 4-5 minutes ensuring it is cooked through. Next, simply add ketchup, honey, vinegar, chopped pineapple and its juice, and sliced red peppers; cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until sauce begins to boil. Add a chopped chili here, if you like it with a bit of a kick. Whilst waiting for the wok contents to cook, in a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce and corn flour. Add to your bubbling wok mixture and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Add chopped spring onions and toss until well coated.
Serve on a bed of egg fried rice or plain noodles. Tasty.
Making egg fried rice is easier than you might think. All you need is 2 eggs, basmati rice, chicken stock, spring onions, mushrooms and or frozen peas (both optional). Firstly cook the eggs in a heavy pan with a quick spray of olive oil. Break the yolks and run a knife through them and cook until just set, cut into small strips. Fry rice with the spring onions, mushrooms and peas (if using) for about 2 minutes, add the stock, and cook covered, until the moisture is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Voila! Or should I say 你去那里 Nǐ qù nàlǐ ?
Spring rolls make a good starter with a good dollop of chilli or bbq dipping sauce. Fairly easy to make, cook some vermicelli noodles in hot water for 2-3 minutes, drain. Fry off finely sliced green cabbage, spring onions, grated carrots, crushed garlic, celery and ginger in olive oil. Add a good splash of soya sauce to taste. Stir through the drained noodles.
Roll out filo pastry. Divide pastry into 10cms in length. Spoon the vegetable mixture into each pastry case, fold in the edges and roll the pastry up. Place spring rolls on a greased baking tray and cook in a preheated oven for 25 minutes. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.
What is your favourite Chinese Dish, and have your ever attempted to recreate it at home? Happy Chinese New Year or as the Chinese would say 新年快乐Xīnnián kuàilè.