Home > Uncategorized > Happy Year of the Dragon!

Happy Year of the Dragon!

The recipes from our Italian Dinner are on hold for a few days.  The first two recipes are Matt’s creations and I need to get his input this weekend. So, thought I’d be somewhat timely with this post about the Chinese New Year, even though we were late celebrating it this year.  The New Year kicked off on January 23, 2012 and continues until February 9,2013.  This year is a Water Dragon Year and according to things I’ve read, it is supposed to be a lucky year!  Wishing everyone good fortune and a happy year! On Wednesday, I had some extra time and decided to make some dishes from my childhood.  Matt came home to hot and sour soup and fried rice.  The original recipes came from a Chinese cookbook my parents had back in the ’70s.  We’ve modified the recipes over the years.  Just once, I wish I could have egg rolls like the ones we used to make…they were so good, I found some notes in the book that might be part of their egg roll recipe, it’s something to experiment with in the future. But I digress, back to soup and rice…

Both of these recipes are very customizable.  They can easily be made vegetarian (even vegan if you want). Don’t eat pork?  Use chicken, tofu, or mushrooms.  Don’t like tofu? Use meat or vegetables. Don’t like water chestnuts?  Use bamboo shoots or onions.  No dried mushrooms?  You can use fresh.  Want more veggies?  Add carrots, corn, or mushrooms.  Substitute brown rice for long-grain white rice. You can also change the spiciness of either dish. We like things spicy, so these recipes are geared towards our tastes (I add even more pepper than the recipe). Feel free to omit the hot pepper and use less black pepper, white pepper, or cayenne.  Start with a little and add more as you see fit.  Same with the salt, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil (you can even use hot pepper sesame oil instead of toasted sesame oil).  Start with a little then increase as you want.

One more note – this is about ingredient size:  When making the soup, you want all the ingredients cut into thin matchstick shapes. For the fried rice, you want the ingredients cut into cubes, everything roughly the same size.  Having ingredients that are of uniform shape and size helps everything cook evenly, plus it looks nice (please don’t look too closely at the photos, I was in a hurry!) 

Ok, enough about customizations and ingredient sizes, you get the point. These recipes are just a guide…have fun with them and make them your own! 


 

Hot and Sour Soup 

4 dried Chinese mushrooms (this is about an ounce)

1 tablespoon canola oil (or peanut oil)

½ cup lean pork, sliced thinly

1 small piece (½”-1”) fresh ginger, peeled and grated (optional)

1 small hot finger pepper, thinly sliced (optional)

½ cup canned bamboo shoots, sliced into thin matchsticks

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons white vinegar (I use 3-4 tablespoons) or rice vinegar if you prefer

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white pepper, ground

½ teaspoon black pepper, ground

¼ teaspoon cayenne, ground

32 ounces chicken stock

1 block firm tofu, drained and sliced into ¼” strips

2 tablespoons cornstarch

4 tablespoons water

1 large egg, beaten

½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

3 green onions, sliced, for garnish

 

Put the mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse the mushrooms and slice into thin strips.

 

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, pork, ginger, hot pepper, and bamboo shoots. Stir and cook for a few minutes.  Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and peppers in a small bowl.  Pour this mixture into the pot with the pork and veggies. Add the chicken stock and bring the soup to a boil.  Simmer for 9 minutes. Lower the heat and add the tofu. Cook for another 3 minutes.

 

Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth (a cornstarch slurry). Mix this slurry into the soup, stir constantly until the soup thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat, and slowly pour in the beaten egg.  Egg strands should form immediately (looks kind of like egg drop soup).  Add the sesame oil and stir gently.  Garnish the soup with chopped green onions and serve.

 


Fried Rice

4 cups cold cooked long-grain rice

4 large eggs

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon water

3 tablespoons canola oil (or peanut oil)

1 small white onion, chopped

1 small hot finger pepper, thinly sliced (optional)

½ cup lean pork, diced into cubes

½ cup chicken breast, diced into cubes

½ cup cooked ham, diced into cubes

4-6 fresh mushrooms, chopped

6 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped

4-6 water chestnuts, diced into cubes

½ cup frozen peas, thawed

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil

3 green onions, sliced, for garnish

 

Cold rice tends to get clumpy, so use your fingers or chopsticks to separate the rice.  In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the salt and water.  In a small frying pan, scramble the eggs until just set.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

 

Heat the oil in a wok or a large skillet (you want it very hot, but not smoking or burning). Add the onion and pepper, and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the pork and the chicken.  Stir fry for about 2 minutes.  Add the ham and mushrooms.  Stir fry for another minute.  Add the shrimp and water chestnuts.  Stir fry another minute.  Add the rice, soy sauce, and sesame oil.  Stir fry 1-3 minutes.  Add the peas and the scrambled eggs.  Stir gently and make sure everything is heated through.  Garnish with green onions.

 

 

 

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