I’m really trying to get hyped up for Chinese New Year. Aside from some flowers I brought into the home, CNY lacks its usual red & gold luster, feeling more like the dreary snowy Monday that is New York today. BUT in an effort to stay true to CNY traditions of 除舊迎新 “out with the old (crap) and in with the good”, I’m going to refrain from talking about the absolute insanity of work in January, my forever cold, and my wistful thoughts of childhood past. Continue reading
Happy Lunar New Year of the Sheep! Chinese New Year is one of my favorite holidays growing up in Hong Kong. A celebration of Spring’s impending arrival, we would fill our homes with fresh flowers (boy, do I miss the sweet scent of the Narcissus bulb!), see friends and family, and eat a lot of food that typically only gets served during this festive time of year.
While these precious gatherings are harder to come by these days, I hope to carry on this great tradition by making the foods that remind me most of home. Turnip cake is a solid staple, while it does take a bit of work, it’s so worth it to make your own – check out my recipe (and menu) here. This year, I’m going to dive into another gold star staple, the Chinese dumpling!Our household favorite savory dumpling recipe features some unusual ingredients like bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms (for crunch), and Chinese chives (more garlicky than regular chives). You can omit or substitute those ingredients and the dumpling would still be delish – this recipe is pretty forgiving. To learn more about wrapping, serving, and storing your dumplings, check out this great noshon.it post:
Ingredients (makes 50 dumplings):
– 7 – 10 Shitake Mushrooms chopped
– 10 – 15 pieces Wood Ear Mushrooms chopped (optional)
– 1 small can Bamboo Shoots chopped
– 2 small Carrots chopped
– 5 – 6 Napa Cabbage (or green cabbage) leaves, blanched, cold bath, chopped
– 8-12 stalks of Chinese chives (or 2-3 stalks of spring onions if unavailable) chopped
– 1/4 cup Cilantro
– 1 tablespoon Grated Ginger
– 1 egg, whisked
– 1 pound Raw shrimp (as binding agent for the vegetable mix) grounded into a paste using a food processor (or you can use 1/2 lbs Ground chicken and 1/2 lbs Ground shrimp)
– Soy sauce and sesame oil to season dumpling mix
– 50 Dumpling Skins (should be able to find Nasoya brand at Wholefoods or local grocery store)
– Soy sauce or Citrus dumpling sauce with a drop of seasame oil for dipping
1. Chop all listed vegetable ingredients
2. Mix all vegetables, whisked egg, and shrimp (or chicken) well with soy sauce and sesame oil
3. Wrap a small spoonful of mix in a dumpling skin
4, Steam, Pan fry, or Boil your dumplings and serve hot with dipping sauce on the side
5. Have a dumpling party!
Happy New Lunar Year of the Snake! This is a special new year me because my Mom and brother will be visiting me for the first time in NYC for our traditional new year’s dinner!
This dinner party menu will be split into several posts as some of the recipes may be quite complex. That said, practice makes perfect so don’t be discouraged!! I will post as many photos of ingredients as I can to help you shop at your local Asian supermarket.
Here’s the Menu:
– Turnip Cake
– Whole Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallion
– Chinese Wine Marinated Steamed Chicken
– Pork and Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant and Peppers
– Sweet Dumplings with Peanut or Black Sesame Filling
– Purple Glutinous Rice and Barley Sweet Soup
First up on the recipe roster is home-made turnip cake. This savory “cake” is a family favorite and is a staple item for new year celebrations. While this item can be found in most dim sum restaurants, I always prefer to make my own as I find store bought cake ingredients to be “watered down”. As a note, I would reduce the dried ingredients by half if you’re not used to them as they can be quiet pungent (an acquired taste). The batter is quite thick so this is going to be a great work out for your biceps!
Yield: 1 turnip cake (8 inch square Aluminum container), can serve as appetizer for 6 – 8 people
– 1 turnip: About 2 pounds
– Chinese Sausage: 1 – 2, diced
– Dried Chinese Mushrooms: 7 small ones, diced (Reconstitute dried Chinese mushrooms in water the night before, or hot water for at least an hour the day of cooking)
– Dried scallops: 3 – 4 (2/3 in batter, Reserve 1/3 as topping) (Reconstitute dried scallops in water the night before, or hot water for at least an hour the day of cooking); Tear into small pieces after reconstituted
– Dried shrimp: 1/3 cups, Roughly Chopped (2/3 in batter, Reserve 1/3 as topping) – Rinse dried shrimp before chopping up
– Scallions: 2 stalks with white parts, Chopped (2/3 in batter, Reserve 1/3 as topping)
– Rice flour: 1.5 cups
– Ginger: 3 – 4 Slices
– Chinese Rock Sugar: 2 – 3 cube sugar sized lumps
– White Pepper & Oyster Sauce: A Dash
– Aluminum container: 8 inch Square
– With a little heated olive oil in a pan, lightly fry up the diced Chinese sausage, reconstituted dried Mushrooms, dried shrimp and dried scallop (remember to reserve 1/3 for topping the batter!) for 2 – 3 minutes over medium heat. Place in bowl and set aside.
– In a large bowl, grate the turnip. If you want better texture, grate 70%, the other 30% can be diced. Strain the turnip and save the juice in a separate bowl – my 2 pound turnip yielded just shy of 1 cup of juice.
– Mix rice flour with the turnip juice and make sure there are no lumps. The texture of the mix should be toothpaste like, if it’s too dry (or if your turnip didn’t yield a lot of juice), add water as needed (I added 1/8 cup of water for this batter)
– Again, in a slightly oiled pan, fry up 3-4 slices of ginger. Add turnip and cook until translucent, about 7 – 10 minutes on medium heat. Add 2 – 3 lumps of small Chinese rock sugar, dash of white pepper & oyster sauce, cook with turnip until sugar is melted. Discard ginger.
– Add the flour mixture into the cooked turnip and mix well. Consistency would be like a thick batter, so add 1 – 2 cups of water if the batter is too dry. Then stir in Chinese sausage, mushroom, scallop, shrimp, and scallion mixture.
– Pour the batter into the aluminum container, top with the reserved topping, and steam for 1 hour. Store in fridge overnight.
Option 1: Slice up the cake and pan fry with oyster sauce to dip.
Option 2: Steam and serve individual portions in bowls with some soy sauce and freshly chopped scallions
Option 3: Make the cakes into these super cute hearts for Valentine’s day with a twist!!!
Next up! Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions & Wine Marinated Chicken, stay tuned and Gung Xi Fa Cai!