Chinese New Year Recipes

Chinese New Year is fast approaching. While January 1st is easy to remember, the specific date of Chinese New Year changes each year, as it falls on the first day of the lunar calendar. In 2007, the first day of the new lunar year is February 18th. The New Year season is also called the Spring Festival as it begins at the start of the Spring term according to the Chinese calendar.

According to Chinese astrology, 2007 is the year of the pig. People born in pig years are happy and honest. Famous Pigs include David Letterman, Hillary Rodham-Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Elton John.

Most of the dishes served during Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival) are symbolic of something positive and hopeful. Chicken and fish, for example, symbolize happiness and prosperity–especially when served whole. Dishes made with oranges represent wealth and good fortune because they are China’s most plentiful fruit. Noodles represent longevity; therefore, they should never be cut! Duck symbolizes fidelity, while eggs signify fertility. Bean curd or tofu, however, is avoided because its white color suggests death and misfortune.

Dishes are also chosen based on homonyms–words that either are spelled the same or sound the same as other words. Fish (yu) is served because it sounds similar to the Chinese word for plenty; whole fish represents abundance. Turnips are cooked because their name (cai tou) also means “good luck.”

Another popular Chinese New Year dish is jiaozi, dumplings boiled in water. In some areas of China, coins are placed in the center of jiaozi. Whoever bites into one of these dumplings will have an exceptionally lucky year.

Crispy Fish with Sauce

4 large Chinese dried black mushrooms
1 tbsp. peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/3 C thinly sliced carrots
1/3 C thinly sliced bamboo shoots
1/3 C snow peas, cut in half lengthwise
1 tbsp. rice wine
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 C oyster sauce
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/3 C soy sauce
2 tsp. rice vinegar
3 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. peanut oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
shake of white pepper

Soak the dried mushrooms in water to cover, and set aside. Minceginger and garlic and put into a small dish. Cut carrots, bamboo shoots, and snow peas and combine in a small bowl. Combine rice wine, chicken broth, oyster sauce, sat, sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar in a small bow. Combine cornstarch with water in a small dish.

Remove dried mushrooms from bowl and squeeze aout excess liquid. They should be fully hydrated, if not, let them soak longer. Trim and discard stems. Cut into 1/2" wide strips and place in dish with carrots.

Heat wok over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add vegetable oil and heat 30 seconds. Move the wok around so the oil coats the sides. Add ginger mixture and stir 15 seconds. Add vegetables and stir quickly. Add chicken broth mixture and simmer briefly then add cornstarch. Bring to a boil. Add sesame oil, a little white pepper (black can be substituted) and pour over hot fried fish.

Fish: Buy firm fillets and cut into serving sizes. Soak in salt
water for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse. Pat dry. Dip in beaten
egg and coat well with cornstarch. Fry in hot oil to cover until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain briefly and transfer to serving platter. Ladle sauce over fish.

Crispy Orange Beef

1 lb. flank steak, partially forzen
1/4 to 1/2 C cornstarch, approximately
2 to 3 cups peanut oil
6 to 8 pieces of dry orange peel, about 1/2" square
1 dozen dry hot pepper pods, about two inches long, or to taste
1/4 small onion, cut in 1/2" squares
1/4 C water chestnut slices
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. minced green onion
1 tbsp. rice wine
1/4 C sugar
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 C chicken broth
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil

The flank steak should be frozen, but still pliable for
easier slicing. Cut it into 3 lengthwise pieces, then cut across the horizontal to make small pieces, about 1/2" by 2" (sizes will vary, but those are ballpark figures). Coat the meat completely with cornstarch and set aside.

Cut up dry orange peel into small pieces and combine in a small dish with hot pepper. Cut onion and combine in another small dish with water chestnuts.

Mince garlic and green onion.

Combine rice wine, sugar, soy sauce, chicken broth, and oyster sauce in a small bowl. Set a metal strainer over a large receptacle (not plastic) in kitchen sink.

Heat wok for two minutes over highest heat. Add oil and heat until it is very hot. Add beef and stir to break it up. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until beef gets a yellowish cast to it and the outside is crispy. Transfer to strainer in sink and pour oil and beef into it.

Place empty wok back on high heat and add garlic and green onion. Add hot pepper and orange peel. Stir briefly. Add onion and water chestnuts and stir 30 seconds. Add sauce and stir well to coat. Let Mixture boil until it thickens slightly. Add hot beef and then sesame oil. Stir once or twice and place on a warm plate. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 8 as part of a larger meal.
Serve with steamed rice.

General Tso’s Chicken

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut in large chunks
1/3 C cornstarch
1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. chopped green onion
1/4 C chicken broth
1 tsp. oyster sauce
1/4 tsp. hot pepper paste
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice wine
3 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 1/2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. sesame oil

Cut the chicken and coat it with cornstarch. Set aside (discard any extra cornstarch). Slice the zucchini on a shallow diagonal about 1" wide. Roll the zuchhini halfway and slice the same way to form chunks that are shaped like
trapezoids. Set aside.

Combine garlic and green onion in a small dish. Combine broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, hot pepper sauce, wine, and vinegar in a small bowl. In another dish or small glass, mix cornstarch with water. Place a metal strainer in a large
receptacle (not plastic) in the kitchen sink.

Heat wok over high heat for two to three minutes. Add vegetable oil; heat until VERY hot. Add chicken; stir to break it up. Fry until golden brown - the color of fried chicken. Transfer chicken to strainer.

Place empty wok back on high heat for 30 seconds. Add garlic mixture and fry for several seconds. Add zucchini and toss a minute over high heat. Add sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add cornstarch and boil until thickened. Add chicken and sesame oil and heat through. Serve with hot steamed rice.

Serves 4 to 8 as part of a larger meal.

Kung Pao Chicken

2 boneless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons cold water
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon black or red rice vinegar, or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chicken broth or water
3 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
a few drops sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch

6 to 8 small dried red chili peppers, or as desired
2 garlic cloves,
1/2 cup skinless, unsalted peanuts
3 - 4 cups oil for deep-frying and stir-frying

Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Mix in the soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, water and cornstarch. Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients, whisking in the cornstarch last.

Remove the seeds from the chile peppers and chop.

Peel and finely chop the garlic.

Heat the oil for deep-frying to between 360 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully slide the chicken into the wok, and deep-fry for about 1 minute, until the cubes separate and turn white. Remove and drain on paper towels. Drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from the wok.

Add the chilies peppers and stir-fry until the skins starts to darken and blister. Add the garlic. Stir-fry until aromatic (about 30 seconds). Add the deep-fried chicken back into the pan. Stir-fry briefly, then push up to the sides of the wok and add add the sauce in the middle, stirring quickly to thicken. Stir in the peanuts. Mix everything together and serve hot.

Pork Dumplings

100 (3.5 inch square) wonton wrappers
1 3/4 pounds ground pork
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 egg, beaten
5 cups finely shredded Chinese cabbage

In a large bowl, combine the pork, ginger, garlic, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, egg and cabbage. Stir until well mixed.
Place 1 heaping teaspoon of pork filling onto each wonton skin. Moisten edges with water and fold edges over to form a triangle shape. Roll edges slightly to seal in filling. Set dumplings aside on a lightly floured surface until ready to cook.
To Cook: Steam dumplings in a covered bamboo or metal steamer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Egg Foo Yung

8 eggs, beaten
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup diced fresh mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
1/3 cup cooked and crumbled ground beef
1/3 cup chopped cooked pork
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add the celery, onion, bean sprouts, mushrooms, chicken, beef, pork, salt and pepper. Mix together.
Heat oil in a medium skillet or wok and brown egg mixture 1/2 cup at a time. When all of the mixture is browned, set aside.

To Make Sauce: Dissolve the bouillon in the hot water in a small saucepan; add sugar and soy sauce and blend well over medium heat. Add cold water and cornstarch and stir until thick and smooth. Serve with Egg Foo Yung.

Jiaozi - Chinese Dumplings

These round dumplings signify family reunion. In northern China families traditionally spend New Year’s Eve together preparing the dumplings, which are eaten at midnight. One lucky person may find a gold coin inside! Crescent-shaped Jiaozi are a symbol of wealth and prosperity because of their resemblance to ancient Chinese money (silver ingots).

Jiaozi dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
up to 1 1/4 cups ice cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup ground pork or beef
1 TB soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 TB Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, or to taste
3 TB sesame oil
1/2 green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
4 tablespoons shredded bamboo shoots
2 slices fresh ginger, finely minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to form a smooth dough. Don’t add more water than is ncessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients.

Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine and white pepper to the meat, stirring in only one direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well.

To make the dumpling dough: knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter.

Place a small portion (about 1 level tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumplings.

To cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don’t stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. Drain and remove. If desired, they can be pan-fried at this point.

Longevity Noodles

Symbolizing a long life, this is a popular dish on birthdays and other celebratory occasions.

8 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound dried thin egg noodles or spaghetti

3 cups chicken broth or stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water

2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 green onions, sliced diagonally into thirds
2 - 3 tablespoons cooked ham, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Oil for cooking

Bring the salted water to a boil and parboil the noodles, using chopsticks to separate them. (If substituting spaghetti, cook according to package directions). Rinse the noodles repeatedly in cold water and drain thoroughly.

Divide the noodles equally among four soup bowls.

Bring the broth or stock to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil. Add the cornstarch mixture last, stirring to thicken.

Heat wok and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the eggs and stir. Add the broth or stock mixture and bring to a boil but don’t allow the eggs to set. Pour the mixture over the noodles and garnish with green onion and ham.

Variations: Instead of using a wok, lightly stream the beaten egg into the heated sauce mixture with a fork. Pour the mixture over the noodles and garnish with the green onion and the sliced ham as in the recipe above.

Another variation I’ve seen calls for using the wok to poach the eggs. The poached eggs are placed on the noodles and the sauce is poured over.

For a contrast in texture and color, add a green vegetable.

Lo Han Jai

Also known as “Buddhist Vegetarian Stew,” is traditionally served on the first day of the lunar Chinese New Year, to cleanse the body. Since ingredients for Lo Han Jai are not easily available in most food markets, this is a simplified version. Although the list of ingredients appear lengthy, once everything is gathered, the cooking is easy.

2 T. vegetable oil
8 Chinese black mushrooms, soaked in hot water for ten minutes, squeeze excess water, remove stems, leave whole - save soaking water
1/2 c. dried fungus (cloud ears), soak in warm water, cut into smaller pieces
1/2 c. sliced bamboo shoots
8 fresh Chinese water chestnuts, peeled, cut into quarters
1 whole carrot, peeled, cut to julienne strips
2 c. Napa cabbage, torn into small pieces
1 c. vegetarian or chicken broth
2 oz. bean thread - boil in water to cover for 5 minutes. Drain.
1 c. firm bean cake (tofu), cut to 1/2" cubes
8 snow peas, remove strings, cut to thin slivers
2 c. fresh bean sprouts
2 T. soy sauce (low-sodium best)
1 T. cornstarch mixed well with 2 tsp. cold water
1 tsp. sesame oil

Heat wok until hot; add vegetable oil. Stir-fry mushrooms, fungus, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, carrot, cabbage; cook for 3-4 minutes over high heat. Add broth; cover and cook for 5 minutes over low heat. Add bean cake, bean sprouts, snow peas and soy sauce. Cover and simmer for two minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture to form a light gravy, adjusting if necessary. Drizzle with sesame oil.

Note: Traditional Lo Han Jai ingredients might include: ginkgo nuts, lotus root, dried oysters, lily stems, seaweed hair, fried tofu, and dried bean curd sticks.

Traditional Mandarin Fried Rice

It is recommended to use day-old rice so that the drier rice can soak up the flavors.

Canola oil
3 eggs
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 bunch chopped scallions, green and white separated
1 lapchang, diced (Chinese sausage), can substitute with 4 strips of cooked bacon
8 cups cooked, day-old long grain rice
3 tablespoons thin soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste

In a wok, add 2 tablespoons of oil and quickly soft-scramble the eggs. Remove the eggs. In the same wok, coat with oil and stir-fry garlic and ginger. Add white scallions and lapchang. Add rice and mix thoroughly. Add soy sauce, white pepper and scrambled eggs. Check for seasoning. Serve immediately.

Chinese Whole Fish with Black Bean Sauce

Peanut oil or vegetable oil, for frying
2 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) Petrole soles, scaled and eviscerated, head off
2 tablespoons Chinese fermented black beans, rinsed well and drained
4 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Red Pepper Dipping Sauce, recipe follows, accompaniment
Steamed white rice, accompaniment
1/4 cup green onions sliced on the bias, garnish

In a large wok or pot, heat the vegetable oil to 400 degrees F.

Make 2 or 3 slashes diagonally across the flesh of each side of the fish.

In a small bowl, mash the black beans and garlic. Add the rice wine, oil, ginger, sugar, pepper flakes, and salt, and whisk to combine. Rub the mixture over the outside of the fish, rubbing onto the slashes.

In a shallow bowl, combine the cornstarch and flour. Dredge the fish in the mixture and shake to remove any excess. Carefully slide the flour-coated fish into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes, turning as necessary with tongs. Remove and drain on paper towels.

To serve, arrange the fried fish on a platter with the red pepper sauce and rice. Garnish with the chopped green onions and serve immediately.

Red Pepper Dipping Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried red chile flakes
4 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Combine all the ingredients in a decorative bowl and mix. Set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.

Yield: about 1/3 cup

Steamed Dumplings filled with Shiitake Mushrooms

3 cups (135 g) minced fresh shiitake mushrooms
3 scallions, white part and 1 inch (2.5 cm) green, minced
1 1/2 cup (105 g) minced Chinese cabbage
2 tablespoons (12 g) minced fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon (0.6 ml) dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) five-spice powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1.25 to 2.5 ml) crushed hot pepper flakes, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons (6 g) minced cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons (22.5 ml) reduced-sodium soy sauce
45 wonton wrappers
small leaves of flowering kale
Hot Mustard Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

Combine all ingredients except wonton wrappers, kale and sauce. Stir-fry in a well-seasoned wok or nonstick skillet over high heat until all liquid is absorbed.

Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, trim off corners of each wonton skin to form a circle. Moisten the edges of 1 wrapper with water. Place 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the mushroom mixture on half of the circle, leaving a 1/4-inch (.75 cm) border. Fold the other half of the wrapper over the filling and seal the edges. Make pleats around the edge by folding over tiny sections of the sealed edge to form a border. Repeat, filling remaining wonton wrappers.

Place the dumplings on a damp cloth or piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a Chinese bamboo steamer placed over a wok, or lay on a piece of parchment paper over a wire rack set into a large skillet. Steam over boiling water for 10 to 12 minutes.

Arrange on a heated serving platter. Garnish platter with small leaves of flowering kale. Set a bowl of the Hot Mustard Dipping Sauce nearby.

Makes 45 dumplings

Hot Mustard Dipping Sauce
(makes about 3 cups)

3/4 cup (96 g) powdered Chinese mustard
1 cup (240 ml) water
1/2 cup (120 ml) + 1 tablespoon (15 ml) white wine vinegar
1/2 cup (120 ml) + 1 tablespoons (15 ml) reduced-sodium soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing well to form a smooth sauce. Let sit for at least 1 hour before serving at room temperature.

Transfer to a serving dish and offer a small spoon for serving the sauce. Serve alongside the steamed dumplings.

Lo Mein with Beef

1/2 lb. fresh Chinese lo mein noodles
3 large dried black mushrooms
3/4 lb. flank steak
1 to 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup peanut, vegetable, or corn oil
1/2 cup shredded bamboo shoots
1/2 cup any kind of chopped cabbage
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1/2 cup chives, cut into 2-inch lengths
3 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained

Drop noodles into a large quantity of boiling water — at least 2 quarts — and cook 3 1/2 to 5 minutes until tender. Do not overcook. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Set aside.

Place the mushrooms in a bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes or longer, then drain and squeeze the mushrooms to extract most of their moisture. Cut off and discard the tough stems and thinly slice the cap.

Place the meat on a flat surface and cut it across the grain into the thinnest possible slices. Place the slices in a bowl and add the oyster sauce, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Mix to coat meat with the oyster sauce mixture.

In a wok or skillet, heat the 1/2 cup peanut, vegetable, or corn oil, and when it is warm, not hot, add the beef and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Drain the beef in a sieve-lined bowl and keep the drippings; remove oil from wok and reserve.

Heat 2 tablespoons of this reserved oil in the wok to almost smoking. Then add the bamboo shoots and mushrooms and cook, stirring, over high heat about 15 seconds. Add the cabbage, sugar and salt. Cook, stirring, about 1 minute, remove vegetables from wok.

Add the beef drippings and an additional 3 tablespoons of reserved oil to the pan. Turn the heat to high, and when hot add the noodles. Cook, stirring, about 20 seconds. Add the bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and light soy sauce. Cook about 15 seconds, stirring, and add the chicken broth and dark soy sauce. Cook, stirring, about 8 minutes, then add the chives, bean sprouts, and beef. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.

Add the remaining sesame oil, toss to blend, and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Yau Gwok (Deep Fried Puffs)

5 oz plain flour
1 tablespoon grated coconut
1 1/2 tablespoons roasted pounded peanuts
1 tablespoon fried white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons water

Sift the flour and separate it into two portions. Add the water into one portion and knead till it is a dough. Add the oil to the remaining portion of flour and knead till it is a soft dough. Mix the two doughs together and knead the dough mixture till it is soft. Roll into a thin sheet. Make into round shapes using a pastry cutter.
Mix together the coconut, peanuts, sesame seeds and sugar with a little oil and water, place portions on the individual round sheets of dough mixture, fold over to make a crescent shape and seal the sides.
Deep fry on a medium heat till golden brown. Drain and serve.

Black Pepper Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 small head cabbage, shredded
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, and add oil. Saute garlic for about 5 seconds, then add ground beef. Stir-fry until beef is evenly brown. Stir in cabbage and pepper, and cook until vegetables are tender, and beef is fully cooked. Stir in soy sauce. Mix together cornstarch and water, and stir in. Season with pepper. Cook, stirring, until sauce has thickened.

Servings: 4

Citrus Carp

1/2 peel of small mandarin orange
3 pounds whole carp, cleaned and scaled
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups sesame oil
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white sugar
6 tablespoons chicken stock

Soak the orange peel in warm water for 20 minutes or until it is soft. Drain, and rinse the peel under running water. Squeeze out extra liquid. Chop the peel and set aside.
Make 3 or 4 slashes on either side of the fish and rub the fish with salt. Sprinkle the fish on both sides with cornstarch.
Heat oil in a frying pan or wok. When the oil is hot, deep fry the fish on both sides for approximately 4 to 6 minutes per side; both sides of the fish should be browned. Remove the fish from the pan and let it drain on paper towels
Dispense of all but 2 tablespoons of the oil (leave that oil in the pan or wok). Bring the oil back to a high heat, mix in the orange peel, garlic, ginger, and scallions. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Add sherry, bean sauce, soy sauce, sugar and chicken stock. Mix well, then add the fish to the mixture. Cover and let cook for 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Clams in Black Bean Sauce

2 dozen clams, such as littleneck or cherrystone
2 tablespoons fermented black beans
1 tablespoon ginger
1 clove garlic
2 leeks
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon chile paste with garlic
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 4 teaspoons of water
3 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Use a stiff brush to scrub the outside of the clams under cold running water. Drain.

Steam the clams for 10 minutes, or until the shells open. Discard any clams with unopened shells. Shuck the clams and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces.

Rinse the fermented black beans, and chop finely.

Mince the ginger. Combine the beans and ginger and mash.

Peel the garlic and finely chop. Wash the leeks and cut on the diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

In a small bowl, mix together the chicken broth, light and dark soy sauce, sugar and chili paste with garlic. Set aside. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and set aside.

Heat the wok over medium-high to high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is hot, add the leeks and stir-fry until they turn a light brown (about 2 minutes). Season the leeks with a bit of soy sauce or salt during stir-frying if desired. Remove the leeks from the wok.

Add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the black bean and ginger mixture. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes, then add the clams. Cook for a minute, mixing the clams in with the black bean sauce. Push up to the sides and add the sauce in the middle. Add the cornstarch and water mixture, stirring to thicken. Add the leeks back into the pan. Cook for a few more minutes. Remove from the pan and stir in the sesame oil. Serve hot.

Pearl Balls

Pearl balls are frequently served at Chinese New Year celebrations. The round meatball signifies reunion, and this is traditionally a time for families to come together.

1 cup glutinous rice
1 pound pork or ground pork
1 - 2 green onions
2 slices fresh ginger
1 egg
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Soak the glutinous rice in water for at least 6 - 8 hours (preferably overnight). Drain well in a sieve or colander. Make sure the rice is dry before using.

Mince or grind the pork if not using ground pork.

Mince the ginger and chop the green onions finely. Lightly beat the egg and combine in a bowl with the light soy sauce, sherry, water, cornstarch, sugar, and the salt.

Take about 1 tablespoon and form into a ball. Continue with the rest of the pork mixture. Roll the pork balls lightly over the dried glutinous rice until they are completely coated.

Place the porkballs on a heatproof dish 1/2 to 1-inch apart. Place the dish on a rack in a pot, cover, and steam over boiling water for between 25 - 35 minutes. Pearl balls are normally served with soy sauce.

Variation : Add a few Chinese black mushrooms or water chestnuts to the pork mixture.

Clam Sycee

Clam sycee originated in Shanghai, on the coast of eastern China. A popular New Year’s dish, it symbolizes good fortune and prosperity, as the stuffed clams resemble the gold or silver bouillion originally used as money in China.

2 dozen clams, such as littleneck or cherrystone
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry, divided
1 slice ginger
1 green onion, cut on the diagonal into thirds
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup chicken broth or stock
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3/4 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt, to taste

Use a stiff brush to scrub the outside of the clams under cold running water. Drain.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil, wine, 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or sherry, ginger, and green onion and the clams.

Cover and cook just until the clams open (about 10 minutes). Use a slotted spoon to remove the clams from the pan. Do not clean out the pan.

While the clams are steaming, mix the cornstarch and water into a paste. Combine the chicken broth, oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and sugar.

Shuck the clams, setting aside the shells for later. Mince the clam meat and combine with the ground pork. Stir in 1 tablespoon sherry, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and salt to taste.

Stuff this mixture into the clam half shells. Rub the cornstarch/water mixture paste over top. Reserve any extra cornstarch paste to add to the sauce later.

At this point you can either deep-fry or stir-fry the clams. If deep-frying, be careful to deep-fry only a few clams at a time, meat side up, sliding them carefully into the wok so that the oil doesn’t splatter. Deep-fry until golden in color and drain on paper towels or a tempura rack if you have one. If stir-frying, place the clams in the wok with the meat side down. Stir-fry in 2 tablespoons heated oil until golden.

Add the sauce ingredients into the pan with the wine. Add the clams back to the wok and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Add any remaining cornstarch/water paste, stirring quickly to thicken. Serve hot.

Lettuce Wraps

The Cantonese word for lettuce sounds like rising fortune, so it is common to serve lettuce wraps filled with other lucky food.

1 head iceberg lettuce or romaine lettuce leaves (whichever you prefer)

1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon sugar

Remaining Ingredients:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 slice ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1 lb meat from chicken breasts or sliced white chicken meat
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 can water chestnuts, rinsed in warm running water and chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

Wash the lettuce, dry, and separate the leaves. Set aside.

Mix together the sauce ingredients. Heat the sesame oil in a non-stick frying pan on high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and green onions and fry until the garlic and ginger are aromatic.

Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the red pepper, water chestnuts, and celery to the frying pan. Add the sauce ingredients and cook at medium heat, Give the cornstarch/water mixture a quick restir and add to the sauce, stirring to thicken. Add the chicken back into the wok. Cook for 2 - 3 more minutes, stirring, to heat through and finish cooking the chicken.

Lay out a lettuce leaf and spoon a heaping teaspoon of the chicken and vegetable/sauce mixture into the middle. The lettuce wraps are designed to be eaten “taco-style,” with the lettuce/chicken mixture folded into a package. Continue with the remainder of the chicken and lettuce leaves. Serve.

Steamed Chicken (Zheng Ji) With Ginger-Scallion Dipping Sauce

Chicken rubbed with salt and then steamed, served with a ginger-scallion dipping sauce to bring out its full flavor. Serve with steamed rice. Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as part of a multi-dish Chinese style dinner.

1 (3 1/2 lb) roasting chickens
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Dipping Sauce:
1 pinch sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons gingerroot, peeled & finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Rinse the chicken in cold, running water, and blot dry completely with paper towels.

Rub the salt all over the skin of the chicken and inside the cavity.

Place the chicken, breast-side down, on a heat proof platter, and set aside for 15 minutes.

Set up your steamer, or place a rack inside a wok or other deep pan.

Fill with about 2 inches of hot water.

Cover tightly and gently steam over medium heat for 1 hour, replenishing the water from time to time.

Remove the platter of cooked chicken and pour off all of the liquid.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and scallions.

In a small pan, combine the oils and heat until they smoke.

Pour the hot oils over the ginger-scallion mixture.

Chop the chicken into serving sized pieces and serve with dipping sauce.

4-8 servings