Kung Hei Fat Choy. Happy New Year!
For the Chinese, the New Lunar Year generally falls on the arrival of the second new moon after the start of the northern hemisphere winter — this year, on February 16. Traditionally celebrations continue for 15 days and 2018 heralds the Year of the Dog.
According to Chinese belief, those born under the sign of the dog — 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018 — possess the best traits of human nature. They are usually honest, friendly, faithful, loyal, smart, straightforward, venerable and have a strong sense of responsibility. On the negative side, they can be self-righteous, cold, terribly stubborn, slippery, critical of others and not good at social activities.
Donald Trump was born in the Year of the Dog!
Days before the New Year celebrations, Chinese families give their homes a thorough cleaning. It is believed the cleaning sweeps away bad luck and readies the house for good luck to enter. Brooms are put away on New Year's Eve so the good luck cannot be swept away.
Here’s wishing you good health and prosperity during the Year of the Dog. And enjoy the following Chinese-style recipes, whatever your nationality.
CRISPY CANTONESE ROAST CHICKEN
The perfect wine match for these Asian flavours is Kungfu Girl 2016 Riesling from www.charlessmithwines.com.
2kg whole chicken
Marinade: 4 cloves garlic, sliced
3cm knob root ginger, sliced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons each: Shaoxing wine, sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.
Combine the marinade ingredients in a jug. Place the chicken in a large ziplock bag — legs up. Pour half the marinade into the cavity. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and zip up. Refrigerate for 12 hours, turning once.
Remove the chicken from the marinade. Place on a rack on a tray and pat dry. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours, until the skin is very dry.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a roasting pan with foil. Place an oiled roasting rack on top.
Tie the chicken legs together with string then place, breast-side up, on the rack. Bake on a low rack in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours, until cooked. Wrap the wing and drumstick tips in foil if they start to brown too much.
Rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serves 6-8.
STIR-FRIED BEEF WITH NECTARINES
For Chinese people, fresh fruits symbolize life and new beginnings.
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
400g trimmed sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 nectarines, halved, stoned and sliced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
Combine the soy sauce, sugar, pepper and 1 teaspoon of canola oil in a bowl. Add the beef and mix well. Marinate for 10 minutes.
Heat half the remaining oil in a wok. Stir-fry the shallot, garlic and nectarines until just cooked. Place aside. Add the remaining oil and stir-fry the beef for 1 minute, until just cooked. Return the nectarine mixture to the pan and heat through. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Marbled eggs symbolize fertility and wealth.
4 large eggs
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 black tea bags
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sugar
Place the eggs in a small saucepan and add enough hot water to cover by about 2cm. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes.
Retain the cooking water in the saucepan. Using a slotted spoon remove the eggs and cool under running water.
Using the back of a teaspoon, gently tap the eggshells so they crack all over. Keep the shell intact. Return to the saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. Cover, cool and refrigerate for several hours.
Carefully remove the shells to reveal the marbled effect on the eggs. Serve as part of a meal, a snack or add to a salad. Makes 4.
PORK WITH SHIITAKE & SPRING ONIONS
Shaoxing wine is prepared from fermented rice and has a taste resembling that of dry sherry.
Marinade: 1 egg white
1 tablespoon each: cornflour, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Stir-fry: 500g lean NZ pork steaks
1/2 cup sliced, dried shiitake mushrooms
2-3 tablespoons peanut oil
4 spring onions, sliced
1 tablespoon finely grated root ginger
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons each: hoisin sauce, Shaoxing wine
Whisk the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Thinly slice the pork and add to the marinade. Mix well. Marinate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, soak the mushrooms covered in warm water for 20 minutes, until softened.
Heat half the oil in a non-stick wok or frying pan.
Drain the mushrooms well. Stir-fry in the oil with the spring onions, ginger, garlic and salt, until just tender. Place aside.
Drain the pork. Heat the remaining oil and stir-fry the pork in batches for 2-3 minutes, until just cooked.
Return the mushroom mixture to the pan, add the hoisin sauce and rice wine and heat through. Serve on rice. Serves 4.