Sunday, February 06, 2011

Recipes to celebrate Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is a centuries old celebration that did not pass unnoticed at my place this year. Friends promptly arrived at 7 p.m. to help ring in the Year of the Rabbit with food, wine and good cheer. And later in the evening, we helped ring in the new year with a few rounds of hedbanz, a classic party game. I blame the sweet Chinese "ice wine" for that.

But keeping with the myths and traditions of Chinese culture, we had a red tablecloth and tulips for good fortune and joy and kumquats to symbolize happiness and wealth. Although, I think it was only me who enjoyed the Kumquats... and maybe Amy. A good time was had by all, and hopefully, we've started a new tradition amongst us for years to come.

Because no Chinese New Year dinner would be complete without them, we had homemade vegetarian spring rolls with a sweet chili sauce to start. I was pleased with how these turned out - tasty, crispy and baked not fried. The recipe came from the February 2011 issue of Alive Magazine. Next up, we had Kung Pao Shrimp and Long Noodles (also from this month's Alive Magazine) and Szechuan green beans for the main course. And dessert? Why fortune cookies of course!

My favorite dish of the evening were the Szechuan green beans, although the spring rolls were a close second. I used regular green beans but next time will try Chinese long beans. The beans were bright and full of flavour, sauteed in garlic, ginger and chili garlic sauce. I'll definitely make these again, they're a versatile side dish and would taste great with halibut, sauteed prawns or steak and rice. Kung hei fat choi!

Szechuan Green Beans (serves 4-5)

1 pound green beans, washed and trimmed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 green onions, diced
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (found it Chinatown)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the green beans and trim the ends. Chop the garlic, ginger and white part of the green onions.

In a hot fry pan, add the green beans and stir-fry until they start to shrivel or "pucker" and turn brown (5 - 7 minutes). Remove the green beans and drain in a colander.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the wok on high heat. Add the garlic, ginger and scallions. Stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the chili sauce and stir-fry for a few more seconds until aromatic.

Then add the green beans and remaining ingredients. Stir fry a few more minutes and serve hot.

No comments: