Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Year Of The Monkey

It's the first day of the Chinese New Year, and it's a day to celebrate. The Year of the Monkey  ushers in yummy foods and centuries old traditions. They are easy to make too and fun to eat.Anyone, even novice home chefs can enjoy cooking these delicious dishes!

Dumplings are one of the oldest and symbolic Lunar New Year dishes. They can symbolize both family and prosperity due to their resemblance to purses.Dumpling or potsticker skins are simple to make. They're just a mix of regular flour, water and a pinch of salt.Think of them like ravioli.The fillings can be anything you want. Traditional ones are filled with pork or cabbage but you can also use shrimp or chicken.Spicing is important too. There's a dash of dry sherry or Shaoxing wine along with green onion and ginger for bite.Add Szechuan peppercorns for real fire  and heat or even fresh ground pepper. Cook , like pasta in salted boiling water for ten minutes or until tender.Serve with homemade hoisin sauce which is a mixture of  soy sauce, peanut butter and either molasses, honey or brown sugar for sweetness (I'd recommend using dark honey, it;s the healthiest, however both the others will give the sauce an earthy richness).along with garlic powder and sesame oil. Jalapeno pepper or Chinese pepper is added for heat.Homemade duck sauce is another good dipping sauce. This is simply a mix of apricot jam and Chinese plum sauce  You can also just dip them in plum sauce too.

These sauces would work with another New Year's classic, spring rolls which represent gold bars and prosperity . These are also easy to create. You do have to buy spring roll wrappers to start with, imply because it's hard to duplicate their delicate layers.. These are always vegetarian and are filled with shredded carrots, green onions and sweet bell peppers. Cilantro is also added for color and taste along with Thai basil. The rolls are fried in  a wok but you can also fry them in a regular frying pan using peanut oil.Make sure they are tightly wrapped otherwise two things will happen: the filling will fall out while frying or the oil will seep in and sog up the filling. It's just tightly rolling and tucking to prevent that. Another traditional treat is a dish of noodles.Use egg noodles if you can't get the authentic. These are cooked  first before cooking the  mushrooms and thinly sliced chicken breasts and broccoli florets. Bok choy can also be added as snow peas.Use  scallions and ginger for more flavor along with garlic. Boil the noodles first and then stir fry the chicken with soy sauce. The vegetables are then added as are the aromatics . Home chefs  can also add Napa cabbage too for color and crunch. Eat this to guarantee a long life.

Enjoy the Year of the Money with tasty New Year's moon, Eat the spring rolls and dumplings for prosperity and the noodles for a long life. Enjoy not only their deliciousness but their rich symbolism too!

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