Monday, January 23, 2012

Enter The Dragon

Gong Xi Fa Chai Feast

One of my favourite Malaysian Festivals is the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival. I love seeing the colour red, cherry blossoms, dragon dancers, mandarin oranges, am pows and firecrackers around me. Best of all, this is the time to taste Chinese New Year Delicacies and an opportunity to observe customs and traditions first hand.

This year Chinese New Year falls on January 23 and Chinese all over the world are celebrating the lunar new year of the Dragon.

The Dragon is a creature of myth and legend. A symbol of good fortune and sign of intense power, the Oriental Dragon is regarded as a divine beast. In Eastern philosophy, the Dragon is said to be a deliverer of good fortune and a master of authority. So, those people born in Dragon years are to be honored and respected.

Dragon Years: 1904 * 1916 * 1928 * 1940 * 1952 * 1964 * 1976 * 1988 * 2000

Chinese New Year is a time for reunion and families gather together on the eve to welcome the New Year. A Chinese Banquet is a feast for the eyes and for the stomach. - a gastronomical journey that begins when you see & smell the vast array of tantalizing food. You can create a banquet in your kitchen too. It’s pretty easy once you know how. Here are some of my favourite Chinese New Year Recipes.

Crab Soup

The Recipe :
1/2 cup fresh crabmeat; 2/3 cup corn ; 2 egg whites; salt to taste; 2 tbsp milk;
For Soup :3 cups chicken stock; 1 teaspoon salt; 1 tbsp cornflour mixed in 2 tbsp water

Clean the crab meat removing pieces of shell and retaining juices. Keep in a covered dish.
Stir egg whites and salt briskly with a fork. Stir in milk and keep aside.

Combine soup ingredients in a large saucepan. Keep mixed cornflour ready. Bring the soup to a boil. Add corn, boil soup and then add the crabmeat and juices; bring to a boil again over high heat. Lower heat and slowly add mixed cornflour, stirring until the soup is thickened. Remove from heat and gently stir in the egg white mixture, to combine.
Taste and add salt if necessary. I also add a little white pepper to suit my taste.

Serve hot in individual bowls with soy sauce and / chillies in vinegar.

Spare Ribs

The Recipe:

2 tbsp soy sauce; 1 tablespoon white rice vinegar; 1 teaspoon sesame oil; 1 tbsp honey; 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder; 1/2 tsp minced garlic;
1/2 tsp ground ginger; ¾ kg spare ribs.

Combine soy sauce, white rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, five-spice powder, garlic, and ginger in a dish. Mix well. Add ribs to marinade; refrigerate 4 to 8 hours, turning occasionally.
Pressure cook 15 minutes, drain and then gently grill ribs on high heat for 5 minutes each on both sides till ribs are brown. Pour the sauce over. Serve hot garnished with coriander leaves.

Butter Prawns

The Recipe :

15 tiger prawns, -deveined, with shell, remove eyes ; 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves; 6 tbsps butter;5 egg yolks;
3 cloves garlic, minced finely; 2 -3 green chillies ,finely chopped; 1 tsp salt;1 tsp soy sauce;1 tsp sugar; 1tsp Shaoxing Wine (Chinese Rice Wine); white pepper to taste.

Clean, wash and dry prawns. Heat enough oil to deep fry the prawns. I grill them on high heat 5 minutes each side until shells turn red. Remove and drain, set aside.

Next, use about 2 tbsps of the oil used earlier in your wok. Stir fry the garlic, chilli, curry leaves and salt until fragrant. Lower heat, add the butter, soy sauce and the sugar. Next, add the egg yolks, through a strainer or sieve and finally the prawns that were fried earlier. Add more salt if desired. . Stir to coat and fry until the little bits of egg start to brown. Serve hot. The fragrance of the curry leaves and butter and prawns combined together will make your mouth water.

Orange And Honey Chicken Wings

The Recipe :

12 wings, trim tips, wash and dry, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp. finely shredded orange rind, 2 tbsp. orange juice, 1 tbsp. honey.

Marinade wings overnight. Grill on very high heat (GM 9, 450F , 260 C) for 5 minutes each side till done. Serve hot or cold.
NB Instead of orange juice and rind lemon juice and rind can be used.

Sweet & Sour Chilli Crabs

The Recipe :

Sauce: 3 tbsp. tomato sauce; 3 tbsp. chilli sauce; 2 tbsp. white rice vinegar ( can use less); 1 tbsp. light soya sauce or ½ tsp. soy sauce; 2 tbsp. sugar; 1 tsp. salt; 100 ml water; cornflour for thickening. Mix together and keep ready.
1 tbsp. chopped garlic; 1 tsp. green chillies, minced; 1 tsp. chopped ginger; 1 tbsp. chopped spring onions; 1 egg beaten.

1 kg crabs (about 5 ), cleaned and cut. Coat in cornflour and deep fry till colour changes. Keep aside.
Fry garlic, chillies, ginger and spring onions till fragrant in a little oil. Add the sauce ingredients. Bring to boil. Add crabs, beaten egg and thicken with cornflour if required. Serve hot.


The Recipe :

400gms Kai-Lan, trimmed and rinsed, soak in salt water for 15 minutes, drain and keep ready; 5 cloves of garlic, chopped in half; pinch of sugar; pinch of salt and pepper; 1 tablespoon of cooking oil.
Heat wok with oil over high heat. Add garlic and stir-fry for about 10 seconds till golden and fragrant, but not browned. Add kailan and sugar, stir fry with wooden spatula for 1 minute only. When it starts to soften, sprinkle salt and pepper Stir-fry to combine well. Serve hot.

Steamed Fish

The Recipe :

Eating fish on New Year’s Eve is equivalent to having surplus at the end of the year since the character for surplus is pronounced “yu” which happens to be a homophone for fish.

1 large fish (Garoupa) about 350 gms; 4 Slices of tender Ginger, cut in thin strips; 2 Spring onions, chopped; 1 Red Chilli, cut in long strips; coriander leaves, chopped; 1 ½ tbsp thin Soy Sauce; 1 tbsp Chinese Cooking Wine (Shaoxing); 1 tsp Sesame Oil; 3 bsp Groundnut Oil.

Combine the fish with ginger, spring onions, chilli, soy sauce, wine, and sesame oil and steam on a high heat until they are cooked (about 5 minutes). Use the idli steamer or pressure cooker without the weight. Then heat the groundnut nut oil on a moderate to high heat. Carefully, pour the hot oil over the cooked fish. Top the fish with coriander leaves and serve immediately.

Fried Rice

The Recipe:

250 gms. white rice, cooked previous day, 1 cup cooked long beans, diced, peas, corn & cubed carrots; 1 soup cube, 5 cloves minced garlic. ½ cup cooked chicken; ½ cup scrambled egg; ½ cup cooked prawns; salt & pepper to taste.

Heat 3 tbsp. oil in wok. When hot add garlic and fry for a minute or two. Add veggies and soup cube. Stir fry for a minute. Add chicken, scrambled egg and prawns. Lower flame and add the rice. Mix well and heat till warm. Adjust seasoning. Remove and keep in covered dish.

Stuffed Lychees

The Recipe:

1 tin king lychees; 1 small tin pineapple cubes; 1 medium sized tin longans.

Open tins. Stuff lychees with pineapple cubes and place in serving dish. Pour ½ the lychee syrup over. Scatter remaining pineapple cubes around and pour ¼ of the pineapple syrup into the dish. Place the longans on top of the lychees and pour ¼ of the juice over them. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Serve cold as a dessert.

Serve immediately...with love!

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