Woof! Happy New Year!
Gong Hey Fat Choy! (as they say in Cantonese)
This weekend sees the start of the Chinese New Year, and it is the Year of the Dog. Ranking as the eleventh animal in the Chinese zodiac, the dog symbolises loyalty and honesty, and it is said that those born in this year are friendly, faithful, loyal and venerable.
If you fancy popping out for a Chinese meal to celebrate, I would definitely recommend phoning to book (and to check that they are in fact open and not celebrating in Chinatown with their friends and family!).
There are also umpteen Asian meal deals available in major supermarkets this weekend for the lazier ‘stay-at-home’ types, but actually, cooking Chinese nosh from scratch isn’t always as difficult as one assumes.
Aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables and with so many people now being vegetarian or vegan, I thought this recipe (which serves two) from award-winning London chef Andrew Wong (courtesy of wonderful website greatbritishchefs.com) for Sichuanese Aubergine would be ideal to serve as a side dish or in larger quantities for the main course.
300g of baby aubergine
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
1 1/2 tbsp of fermented chilli bean paste
1/2 tbsp of black bean sauce
3 dried red chillies, cut widthways in half
1 pinch of chilli flakes
2 tbsp of Shaoxing wine
2 tbsp of Chinese red vinegar
100ml of vegetable stock, (or chicken stock)
4 tsp sugar
1. To begin, remove the tops of the aubergines and cut them in half lengthways.
2. Add the oil to a hot wok and lightly fry off the chilli bean paste, black bean sauce, dried chillies and chilli flakes – you want to get the oil to change into a glowing red colour.
3. Add the aubergine halves and lightly fry before adding the Shaoxing wine, red vinegar, stock, and sugar.
4. Cook until the sauce has reduced slightly and the aubergine is tender
Here are a couple more nice recipes, this time courtesy of Wing Yip, the giant Chinese emporium, which also has an online shop. Don’t forget that we have the Food Sanctuary on Richmond Road here in Twickenham, which has an amazing selection of Asian delicacies. There is also the Asian supermarket on the Kew Road at Richmond Circus, and another in Kingston near to John Lewis. And, of course, most supermarkets have a reasonable range of Asian ingredients.
Steamed salmon in ginger and spring onion sauce (serves 4)
4 pieces/portions salmon fillets
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4tbsp Wing Yip Ginger & Spring Onion Stir-Fry Sauce
1. Using a piece of foil large enough to create a parcel, place the salmon into the middle of the foil, scatter 1/4 of the shallots around the salmon and spoon 1 tbsp of the Ginger and Spring Onion Sauce on top. Wrap up the parcel and repeat for the other 3 pieces of salmon.
2. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180c for 10 minutes depending on the size of your fish.
3. Check after 10 minutes, and if the fish is cooked all the way through, serve immediately.
Ping Coombes’ Chinese New Year Cookies ‘Hup Toh Soh’
600g flour sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp bicarb
2 tsp salt
250g icing sugar
250g cashews, lightly roasted
375ml vegetable oil
2 egg yolks
1. Preheat oven at 180 fan and roast the cashews for 10 mins. Cool and roughly chop.
2. In a large mixing bowl, place all ingredients except for the egg yolks. Mix well. The dough will feel a little crumbly but it is normal and will come together when rolled out.
3. Working in small batches, place on flat surface to form a dough and roll out about 1cm thick, cut out the cookies with your favourite cookie cutter.
Place on a baking tray with spaces in between.
4. Brush with a beaten egg yolk. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes on 150 fan.