Aah, food. One of my favourite things. I love to cook and I love to eat and I really love to try new things so it is no wonder that food takes up a good proportion of my daily thoughts!
With Chinese New Year approaching for example, I found myself looking for recipes that I would like to try, experiment with, enjoy with my family and friends and to include in my weekly menu. I like to know about the traditional roots of food for various occasions so I spend time researching that as well to make sure that the meal is as it should be.
For Chinese New Year, I have learned that the following should be taken into consideration:
Frugality in relation to food and cooking is common and even essential in Chinese cooking. This is why most foods are steamed or stir-fried (cooked for a short time) to reduce fuel costs, get the most flavour out of the food and to make the food stretch.
For the New Years Celebrations, include things like:
- Chicken for fortune
- Fish for prosperity
- Noodles for longevity (never cut noodles)
- Duck is a symbol of fidelity
- Vegetables represent cleansing of the system
- Wontons represent gold ingots (wealth)
- Seaweed for wealth
For Chinese New Years, I am preparing sweet and sour chicken with jasmine rice, crispy duck pancakes, spring rolls and noodle stir-fry. All are suitable for chinese new years celebrations but are perfectly good year round meals 🙂 For dinner, we will have aromatic crispy duck pancakes (Adapted from the Peking Duck Recipe by Ching-He Huang – see below), spring rolls and vegetable stir-fry with noodles (For 3)
Aromatic crispy duck pancakes:
- 2 duck legs
- 10 chinese pancakes
- 5 spring onions shredded
- 1/2 cucumber cut into matchsticks
- 3 tsp Chinese five spice paste
- 1 tbsp clear honey
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 160 C (fan ovens)
- Prick the duck legs all over with a fork (just through the skin). Pour boiling water over the skin slowly. You will see the skin shrink slightly. Drain off all water and pat dry with a paper towel
- Use 2 tsp of the five spice paste and cover the legs. Roast in the oven for 1 hour.
- Mix 1 tsp five spice paste, the honey, soy sauce and brown sugar together well and using a pastry brush, paint over the roasted duck legs till well coated. Return to the oven for a further 30 minutes cooking time. Baste occasionally throughout the last cooking period
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 15 minutes
- Cut the duck off the bones and shred with a fork
For the sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 6 tsp hoi sin sauce
- 6 tsp castor sugar
- 6 tsp water
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp cornflour
- Warm a wok over a moderate heat , and add the sesame oil, hoi sin sauce, castor sugar, water, soy sauce, and the cornflour and water mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and cook down until the sauce has thickened. Leave to cool.
Warm the pancakes in a bamboo steamer for about 4 minutes. Spread a teaspoon or so of sauce over each pancake and scatter with a little of the spring onions and shredded cucumber. Top with a generous helping of sliced duck meat. Roll up the pancakes into a cigar shape and serve.
Here are some pics of us celebrating Chinese New Year with arts and crafts and getting our meal ready…
Happy New Year and enjoy the celebrations. May you have happiness, prosperity, good health and good luck 🙂 x