Celebrate Chinese New Year — the longest and most important festival on the Chinese calendar — commencing on February 12 and continuing for 15 days.
There are 12 different animal signs in the Chinese zodiac, one for each month of the year. This is the Year of the Ox. According to Chinese belief, those born under the sign of the ox are patient individuals — but when opposed, watch out!
Chinese astrologers maintain that the Year of the Ox will bring career advancement, success in business, prosperity and wellness for all born under this sign. Hurray!
If you were born in 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997 or 2009 you are in illustrious company. Former US president Barack Obama and actors George Clooney, Jack Nicholson, Jane Fonda and Anthony Hopkins were all born in Ox years.
Food plays a major role in this spring festival. ‘Lucky’ foods served during this period include: Spring rolls symbolizing wealth because their shape is similar to gold bars; noodles symbolizing long life —it is believed that it is bad luck to cut them; a whole chicken represents completeness; and fish, but take care to serve it whole to preserve the good fortune.
Kung Hei Fat Choi! Happy New Year.
Yummy, sticky and moreish.
Honey Sauce: finely grated rind and juice 1 large orange
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Prawns: 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons cornflour
400-500g large shelled and deveined raw prawns
3 tablespoons rice bran oil.
2 spring onions, sliced diagonally
Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl.
Combine the sesame seeds and cornflour in a medium bowl.
Pat the prawns dry and toss in the cornflour mixture.
Heat the oil in a wok. Stir-fry half the prawns until pink, about 2 minutes. Lift out and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining prawns.
Add the sauce to the wok and simmer for a few minutes until thickened. Return the prawns to the wok and heat through for 30 seconds ensuring they are well coated with the sauce. Serves 4.
FIVE-SPICE SALT & PEPPER SQUID
400g medium squid tubes
1 teaspoon each: Chinese five-spice powder, freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Wash the squid tubes and pat dry. Cut along one side of each tube and open it out flat. With the tip of a small, sharp knife, score the inner side in a diamond pattern and then cut into 4-5cm squares.
Combine the five-spice, black pepper and salt.
Heat a wok over a high heat. Add half the oil. Stir-fry half the squid for 1-2 minutes, until lightly coloured and curled. Lift on to a paper towel. Add the remaining oil to the wok and stir-fry the remaining squid.
Return the first batch of squid to the wok and add the five spice mixture. Stir-fry for about 10 seconds. Serves 4.
STIR-FRIED BEEF WITH NOODLES
Prepare all the ingredients and cook just before serving.
400g sirloin steak
1 tablespoon each: rice wine vinegar, cornflour
100g rice vermicelli noodles
1/2 cup dried Chinese mushrooms
1 cup snow peas, strings removed
2 tablespoons rice bran oil, divided
2 spring onions, cut into 3cm lengths
1 yellow or red capsicum, seeded and sliced
2 small Shanghai cabbages, sliced
1 tablespoon each: soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, water, sesame oil
Cut the sirloin steak into thin slices. Marinate in the combined rice wine vinegar and cornflour.
Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes. Place the Chinese mushrooms in a separate bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes. Drain the noodles and the mushrooms well and pat dry.
Slice the snow peas, if preferred.
Drain the meat and pat dry. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a non-stick wok or frying pan. Stir-fry the beef in batches until just cooked. Remove to one side. Wipe the pan clean.
Heat the remaining oil.
Stir-fry the spring onions, capsicum, Shanghai cabbage, mushrooms and snow peas until crisp tender. Return the beef to the pan with the noodles and add the sauces and water. Heat for 1 minute then stir in the sesame oil. Serves 3-4.