“New Years,” whether the Lunar, Gregorian, or Chinese calendar spells the time for fun, friends, frolic and food—it’s time for celebration! January 23 is the beginning of the Chinese New Year and the foods that traditionally come into play.
Central to the foods prepared could be noodles for long life. I’ve chosen soba noodles to serve with salmon steaks marinated in a mixture of soy, sake, scallions and ginger. While the marinade may sound familiar the technique is a bit different in that the marinade ingredients are simmered then poured over the steaks to marinate. After playing with the recipe a few times I found one of the most important elements is the freshness of the salmon. Be sure to purchase your salmon from your most trusted fishmonger.
Another option is chicken with hoisin sauce and cashews, a tried and true classic. This dish can be served with long thin green beans to keep with the tradition of longevity. Occasionally good things can come right off supermarket shelves such as the makings for the dessert, Chinese fruits in almond syrup. Let’s join in the fun for a Happy Chinese New Year.
SOY AND SAKE PAN ROASTED SALMON
Soy and sake give this succulent salmon dish an appealing glaze.Serves 4 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons sake 2 teaspoons sugar 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger 4 lemon slices 1 1/4 pound center cut salmon, skin removed 2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 1. Pour soy sauce and sake into a small saucepan then stir in sugar, scallions and ginger. Place over medium-low heat, bring to a simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let cool, then put in the lemon slices.
2. Cut the filet into even-size boneless steaks, about 6 ounces each. Place in a non-reactive dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Pour the cooled marinade over and let rest up to 1 hour at room temperature.
3. Warm a sturdy non-stick skillet and put in the oil. When the pan and oil are hot, but not smoking, put in the filets skinned-side up. Sear the fish over medium heat for 3 minutes, turn with fish spatula and sear other side for 3 minutes longer. I prefer to slightly undercook salmon to a rosy pink interior. Test for doneness by poking a finger in the thickest part of the steaks, it should be slightly soft for medium rare or springy to the touch for medium. Cook the filets a couple minutes longer if you prefer the fish well-done. Season steaks lightly with salt and pepper to your taste. Spoon over pan juices, top each with a lemon slice and serve.
Note: I love the salmon served with soba noodles and a drizzle of low-sodium soy sauce.
CHICKEN WITH HOISIN SAUCE AND CASHEWS
Vary this Chinese classic by simply using different vegetables such as carrots, scallions, broccoli, etc.Serves 6 2 whole, boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 tablespoon dry sherry 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1/4 cup tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil 1/2 cup water chestnuts, diced 1/2 cup sweet red pepper, diced 1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/4 cup roasted cashew nuts
1. Rinse and dry chicken breasts with paper towels. Cut into 1/2 inch dice and place in a mixing bowl with sherry, soy sauce and cornstarch. Toss to coat the chicken.
2. Place a wok over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons oil. Roll the wok around to coat the sides with the oil. When oil is hot put in the water chestnuts, pepper and mushrooms. Toss the ingredients with a large metal spoon to stir-fry, for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a side dish.
3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to wok and when hot, put in the marinated chicken. Stir-fry until meat is opaque and chicken is cooked through. Add hoisin sauce and toss everything to mix. Dish out on a warm platter and garnish with roasted cashews. Serve immediately with hot cooked rice.
CHINESE FRUITS IN ALMOND SYRUP
Good things can come out of cans readily found in the Oriental section of your supermarket.Serves 4 to 6 1 can lychee nuts, drained 1 can loquats, drained 1 can mandarin oranges, drained 1 can pineapple cubes, drained 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1. Drain fruits in a sieve over a mixing bowl, and then place drained fruits in a serving bowl or platter. Set aside.
2. In a heavy saucepan, combine 3 tablespoons reserved juice and the cornstarch. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the starch. Do this procedure off heat. Add 1 1/2 cups reserved juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes or until the juices are slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Cool slightly and stir in the almond extract. Cool juice mixture then pour over the fruits. Can be refrigerated until ready to serve.
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