Chinese New Year

February 3, 2011

Today is Chinese New Year. My family loves Chinese food, but I find that takeout is never cheap because we end up getting so much food (so many items! “I’ll take an order of this and an order of that and a quart of this…”). It’s also never healthy. So, over the years, it has evolved that I make dinner for Chinese New Year. I love making it, but there’s a lot of cook time involved, especially if you go nuts and make all the things I did.

Every year I try to make something new. Last year I made egg drop soup (which is amazingly easy – chicken broth, eggs, and lemon juice). This year, I made steamed BBQ buns. This is one of our dim sum favorites and I was excited to try it myself. This is adapted from a recipe I found in Cooking Light 3 years ago and have held onto. The Cooking Light recipe uses pork, I use beef.

Dough:
1 cup warm water
3 tbsp sugar
1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
3 1/4 cups flour
3 tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Combine water, sugar and yeast in a bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Add flour, oil, and salt and stir until it forms dough. Then turn it out and knead it until it is smooth and elastic. This took only a couple of minutes for me. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for an hour or until doubled.

Punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes. Knead in the baking powder and let it rest 5 minutes. Separate the dough into 10 sections.

Fried Rice

Filling:
3/4 lb sirloin, cooked until rare and thinly sliced, then diced
3 sliced green onions
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari (I always use tamari)
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
Mix ingredients together while the dough is rising and allow to sit.

When the dough is ready, roll each piece out to about a 5 inch round. Place 1/10th of the filling in the center. Gather the side and pinch together, twisting slightly.

You’re supposed to cook these in a bamboo steamer, but I don’t have one, so

Shrimp Lo Mein

I used a big saute pan, which I filled with water which I brought to a boil. I set the buns on a round pizza pan the kind with holes in it (put them on seam side down with a couple of inches between them). I covered it tightly with foil and set it on the saute pan. I allowed it to steam for 15 min, then I allowed it to rest for about 5 minutes. They were done perfectly. The dough is fluffy and light and the meat inside is rich and flavorful. These were a huge hit and I’ll probably have to make them every year!

The other dishes on the table last night were:
Fried rice: you can see my usual recipe here, this time I used zucchini, carrot, savoy cabbage, green onion, white onion, and bean sprouts

Edamame

Shrimp lo mein: I boil buckwheat soba noodles with 1 head of chopped broccoli, then quickly cook 2 heads of baby bok choy with sesame oil and teriyaki sauce. I add the noodles and broccoli and about 1/2 lb of shrimp. I add more teriyaki and some tamari and stir until the shrimp are done

Edamame: I boil a bag of frozen edamame about 4 minutes, drain and cool and sprinkle with kosher or sea salt

Potstickers: I had some in the freezer fortunately, from the last time I made them. I always make these with ground turkey. I mixed up a dipping sauce of tamari, sweet and sour sauce, hoisin, ginger, green onions, and water.

We had green tea and I bought a box of fortune cookies for dessert. I wanted to make sesame chicken, but I was out of chicken!

Happy New Year!

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Peking Chicken

September 29, 2010

The person who introduced me to homemade Chinese food was the Frugal Gourmet. He was a crazy hippie/ordained minister who had a cooking show on PBS in the late 80s/early 90s when I was a newlywed. My husband and I used to watch him together and found him to be entertaining (“Hot pan, cold oil, food won’t stick,” I can still hear him saying). It was around this time that I took some books out of the library about Asian food and began experimenting. My recipe for Peking Chicken was born.

This recipe is a family favorite. Mr. MarthaAndMe has been known to request it for his birthday dinner. It’s one of those dishes where everyone is literally licking the plate at the end of the meal. When my kids were younger I used to make some pancakes without scallion and they would gobble them up with chicken and sauce on them. Now I make them all with scallions. One word of warning. Make sure you can open your windows when you make this! It always smokes up my kitchen. Open your window before you start cooking this to get some ventilation going.

I adore this recipe. The chicken gets a magnificent color and has crunchy skin. The sauce is rich, dark, and thick. The pancakes are soft and absorb the sauce wonderfully. You taste the bite of ginger and garlic, the sweet darkness of the hoisin, the moist chicken, and the soul soothing pancakes.  It’s a perfect dish.

Peking Chicken

1 whole chicken

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp minced peeled ginger

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp seasoned rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup hoisin sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place chicken in sink and pour 1 quart boiling water over it, flipping chicken halfway through.

Place on rack and roast in oven for 50 minutes.

Mix honey, tamari, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar. Once the chicken has roasted for 50 minutes, brush with half the honey mixture and return to oven for 5 minutes. Brush again with the rest of the mix and return to oven for another 5 minutes.

Allow chicken to rest while you make the sauce. Add the chicken broth and hoisin to the chicken pan, first removing any blackened pieces, leaving all the brown pieces.  Bring to boiling, whisking, and scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Serve sauce separately.

Scallion Pancakes

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups water

2 large whole green onions, finely sliced.

Mix ingredients together. Heat a skillet or large pan and add 1 tbsp oil (vegetable or olive are fine).  Use the batter to create pancakes, about 4 inches diameter each. Flip when the bottom is slightly brown. Repeat until all are made. Pancakes can be kept in a warm oven until they are all made.

To eat, put a pancake on your plate and top with a slice of chicken. Pour sauce over it and enjoy with a knife and fork.

This is also wickedly good cold! Note that I’ve tried to make this with half whole wheat flour and it just wasn’t the same – the pancakes were too chewy somehow.

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