Chinese New Year Feast

Sunday, 14 February 2010

We had our mini Chinese New Year feast last night, in the silence of our suburban home, with nary a firecracker in earshot. In Beijing, we'd fight to hear each other over the table amidst the cascade of fireworks battering our apartment.

It wasn't a pretentious meal - just for us four, and without the endless rounds of 'extra' that the Chinese deem so important at this time of year. And we ingested more oil than we would over a three-month stretch, but boy was it delicious - and hey - it only happens once a year.

Preparing for any kind of a Chinese feast is a feat in preparation. Because everything cooks so quickly and is a little fiddly, you really have to have the kitchen laid out like an operating theatre, with every surface covered in all manner of bowls, implements and the ubiquitous absorbent paper.

At 3pm, Ella and I began making the jiaozi. Husband couldn't get hold of some pork mince (what's up with that? it's Chinese New Year!) so we made three kinds - bok choy and herb, carrot and prawn - instead. We used pre-made wonton wrappers to make it easier, but next year we want to make our own dough, especially so we can make the jiaozi larger.

We cheated this year and bought ready-made fresh vegetarian spring rolls, slices of lotus, unshelled edamame, and pork baozi (bread-like dumplings) - all from our local Asian supermarket.

When it came to cooking the meal, we put the bamboo steamer in the wok with boiling water and packed in the baozi. This took about 10 minutes to heat through. At the same time, we started panfrying the lotus root slices until crip but smooth inside - like floral chips. We later scattered them with sea salt and a little Chinese five spice.

Once the lotus root was done, we pan fried the spring rolls (much healthier than deep frying) and set the edamame on to boil. They don't need long and should be plunged in iced water after 5 minutes to stop them going soggy. Scatter the pods with sea salt and a few drops of sesame oil and serve in a bowl.

Oh - and almost forgot... once everything was done, I quickly fried up some prawn chips. Not sure what Asian country these originated in, but Riley is addicted to them and they bring back such fond childhood memories of my own. I can still remember staring wide-eyed over the pan of oil as my father threw in the little translucent pink chips that seconds later fizzed and unfurled themselves into tongue-prickling barely pink crackers.

When the baozi were done, we replaced them with two rounds of jiaozi, which only take about 6-8 minutes, depending on what you've stuffed them with.

I served all these with two dipping sauces - sweet chilli (not Chinese but we simply can't resist) and a Chinese sauce made from rice wine vinegar, soy, ginger and shallots.

For dessert, Ella and I layered mango and lychees into parfait glasses, topped with unsweetened cream and shaved dark chocolate.

And what rounds out a classic Chinese New Year meal? Japanese lemonade for the kids and bubbles for the big kids, of course!

Hope you had a fortuitious start to the Year of the Tiger.


Anonymous said...

The preparation, the love and the celebration you have shared here is amazing. An auspicious start to the Year of the Tiger indeed!

Anonymous said...

look at you - going ALL out! my kids would never eat that (shh - neither would I though) TB

Tiny Concept said...

Sounds amazing - I really wish I was there!!!! I would never have time to make such a gorgeous spread. We will definately have to make a date one of these years to share recipes!

life and the memoirs said...

I can't ever imagine myself being able to coordinate such an amazing feast. I wish I could though. Just so delicious. What a lovely family night in :)

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