February 19 marks the start of the Chinese New Year. As the Chinese use the Lunar calendar for the date of their festivals,the date of the Chinese New Year changes from year to year. The date corresponds to the new moon (black moon) in either late January or early February.
One in every six people in the world celebrate Chinese New Year. Customs vary, but the main idea is to remember family and wish everyone peace and prosperity in the coming year.
Here is a delicious menu for four to celebrate the Chinese New Year at a fraction of the price of a takeaway!
Chicken and sweetcorn soup
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 100g boneless skinless chicken breast chopped
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1cm fresh ginger finely chopped
- 1 tbsp maizena/cornflour
- 600ml hot chicken stock
- 100g sweetcorn
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- shredded spring onions
- dark soy sauce
- toasted sesame seeds
- Heat the oil in a deep pan and gently cook the chicken, garlic and ginger for 3-4 minutes without colouring.
- Blend the cornflour with a little stock and add to the pan with the remaining stock and sweetcorn. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
- Beat together the lemon juice and egg and slowly trickle into the soup pan stirring with a chopstick to form egg strands.
- Season to taste, garnish with spring onions, toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of soy sauce.
Honey Ginger Chicken
- 1 large shallot diced
- 1 clove garlic finely minced
- 1 minced red chili (optional)
- 3 large chicken breasts cut into strips
- 1tsp maizena / cornflour mixed with 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- ¼ cup (60ml) light soy sauce
- 2 tbls oyster sauce
- 1 ½ tbls runny honey
- 1 tbls sesame oil
- 3-4 bunches pak choy sliced
- 1 orange pepper sliced
- Pour the cornflour soy mix over the chicken and leave for 10 mins in the fridge
- Heat your wok til hot and then add 1 tbls oil (groundnut or sunflower) and the garlic, chili (if using) and shallot stirring so the garlic doesn’t catch.
- Add the chicken and ginger and stir-fry for 2 minutes
- In the meantime mix together the light soy sauce, honey, oyster sauce and sesame oil then add to the pan and let it bubble for 8 minutes
- Add the pak choy and pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
- Serve with rice or noodles
And for desert try these almond biscuits:
Ingredients – makes 30 biscuits
- 1 cup flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 ½ tsp almond extract
- 30 whole blanched almonds (one for each biscuit)
- 1 egg lightly beaten to glaze
- Preheat oven to fan 160°
- In a large bowl sift flour, baking powder and soda and salt. In a medium bowl use a mixer to combine the butter and sugar then add the egg and almond extract until well blended. Add to the flour mixture and combine. It will be crumbly at this point.
- Use your hands to form a dough and then roll into 2 logs 10 -12 inches long. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Remove from the fridge and cut each log into 15 slices. Roll into a ball and place on a lightly greased tray, place an almond in the centre and press down lightly. Leave about 1 ½ inches between each biscuit.
- Brush lightly with beaten egg and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Once cooled store in a sealed container.
They go really well with toffee and sesame bananas, this is a lighter version than the traditional deep fried toffee version:
- 3 bananas peeled and quartered
- 4 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp butter
- 100ml double cream
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- good quality vanilla icecream to serve
- Toss the bananas in 1 tbsp of the sugar. Heat a griddle pan to medium then cook the bananas a few pieces at a time until sticky and showing griddle marks. Keep warm in a low oven.
- For the sauce put the remaining sugar, butter and cream into a saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has melted. Stir in the sesame seeds. Can be made up to a day ahead.
- To serve, put a few pieces of banana into 4 serving dishes, spoon over some of the caramel and top with a scoop of icecream.
請 吃 Please eat!
Text and food photo by Alison Korter Lacki, Chinese New Year’s photo by Anje Kirsch, February 2015