Stepping Out

East meets up with West

Sweep away the past with a Chinese New Year feast

Posted

Keep that New Year’s revelry going and usher in the Year of the Pig, which begins on Feb. 5. The Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival as it is known) is an ideal holiday for a family-friendly celebration. Tasty food and an animal theme combine for a good time for all.

Chinese New Year is all about wrapping up the old year and welcoming a bright future. Host your own version of a traditional New Year’s banquet, which is at the heart of all Chinese New Year celebrations.

Symbolism abounds: a whole fish for surplus and prosperity, shrimp for happiness and good fortune, a chicken for family togetherness, noodles for a long life, and food aplenty to usher in abundance and wealth for the new year.

Ranking as the 12th animal in Chinese zodiac, Pig is passionate, caring and seductive. People born in the Year of the Pig are faithful in friendship, stylish, perfectionists and hardworking. They are tolerant and recognized for their kindness and generosity, according to Chinese lore. They have great concentration: once they set a goal, they will devote all their energy to achieving it. Though they rarely seek help from others, they will not refuse to give others a hand. Since “pig” people never suspect trickery, they can be easily fooled.

New Year Noodles

10 ounces Chinese noodles

1 clove fresh garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated/shredded

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons peanut oil

4 oz fresh Shiitake mushrooms, stems

removed and caps sliced

3 cups fresh Napa cabbage, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1/2 cup fresh green onion, chopped

First, prepare the Chinese noodles according to the package instructions. This should take no more than about 3-4 minutes, as they cook quickly. Once they’re done, rinse with cold water and return to pot. Then, drizzle with sesame oil and toss to coat. This is to prevent the noodles from sticking. (Add a few drops of oil to the water the noodles are cooked in the help them not stick together.)

Then, in a frying pan or wok over high heat, add together chopped garlic, shredded ginger, red pepper flakes, and peanut oil. Heat for approximately 30 seconds, 1 minute until it’s sizzling a bit, and you can smell the scents wafting through the air.

Add into the frying pan the sliced mushrooms and cabbage. (After rinsing, the mushrooms should be soaked in warm water for approximately 5 minutes. Then remove from the water, remove the stems, and slice caps thinly to prepare for cooking.)

Stir all of the ingredients together in the frying pan until the veggies are slightly tender.

Remove the veggies from the pan, and pour into the pot of cooked Chinese noodles. Mix together slowly and well, making extra sure not to break the noodles. Return the mixture to the frying pan. Now over medium heat, add in 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, and the green onions.

Turning frequently, ensure that the dish is completely coated in the soy sauce mixture. Remove from frying pan, and serve promptly.

Beef with Three Vegetables

For the marinade:

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese rice

wine (or Shaoxing rice wine or 

dry sherry)

1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon dry sherry (or rice wine)

For the stir-fry:

1 pound flank steak or top sirloin beef,

thinly sliced

4 to 5 tablespoons neutral oil (such as

vegetable or canola)

1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 bok choy stalks (leaves separated,

leaves and stalks cut diagonally)

1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, washed and

thinly sliced

2 green onions (optional) sliced

diagonally

Make the marinade: In a large bowl, whisk together light soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Add the sliced beef to the marinade, coating all sides, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, and dry sherry. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Prepare the stir-fry: Heat a wok and add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the beef, discarding the marinade. Stir-fry until it is nearly cooked.

Remove beef from the wok and drain on paper towels.

Clean out the wok, reserving 2 tablespoons cooking juices (or more if desired) to add to the sauce later. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons oil to the wok. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry briefly.

Add the chopped onions and stir-fry until they are tender. Then add the bok choy stalks and stir-fry a bit longer.

Next, add the mushrooms and then the bok choy leaves. Push the vegetables up to the side, re-stir the sauce, and pour it into the middle.

Turn up the heat, push the vegetables back into the sauce, and mix well.​

Return the cooked beef to the wok and mix again. Stir in the green onions, if using.

Serve hot with rice.