Happy New Year! Today, January 23, is the Chinese New Year and year of the Dragon! Will you be doing anything fun or educational today? Well you can do both! Below is an article I wrote from meal planning/recipe site Food on the Table a few weeks ago about celebrating the Chinese New Year and learning a little about popular ingredients found in Chinese cooking. Hopefully I can help educate you some today and help clarify a few things regarding to Chinese food. Also be sure and check below for some recipes to make Chinese food at home, making a great alternative to pricey take-out!
Chinese New Year is just weeks away and is the most important of traditional Chinese holidays. It is known as the ‘Spring Festival’ and marks the end of the winter season. Celebrating other cultures’ traditions is a great way to learn more about their beliefs, history, and of course food!
To learn more about some common ingredients found in Asian cooking, continue reading!
- A Wok is commonly used to prepare Chinese foods. Due to its large size, high sloping sides, and ability to handle high temperatures, a wok is a great tool used to stir-fry, deep-fry, braise, roast, steam, and simmer. The kind of oil used to cook in a wok is crucial. Oil that may be heated to a high temperature without smoking is essential; peanut oil and corn oil both work well. Due to the intensity of the heat used for wok cooking, a gas range with instant heat control is most efficient.
- Hoisin sauce is a popular condiment in Chinese cooking and is sometimes referred to as Chinese barbecue sauce. Hoisin sauce is a reddish-brown sauce that is salty, sweet, and spicy. Hoisin can easily be found in most grocery stores, but if unavailable, a mixture of equal parts molasses and ketchup can be substituted.
- Sesame seeds are common in all Asian cuisines and typically used as a garnish. White sesame seeds have a strong nutty flavor, which is enhanced when toasted. Black sesame seeds are less flavorful and are used mainly for color.
- Chinese Rice vinegar is typically milder and less acidic than regular vinegar. Three common types of rice vinegar include black, red and white. White rice vinegar is most common and is similar in flavor to regular vinegar. Red vinegar is sweet and tart in taste. While black rice vinegar is similar to balsamic vinegar. These vinegars are used in dipping sauces, soups and noodle dishes. If rice vinegar is unavailable dry sherry or white wine vinegar may be substituted.
The recipes below are a great way to celebrate the year of the dragon and use several of the ingredients described above.
Stir-Fried Chicken (Kitchen Concoctions)
General Tso’s Chicken (Taste and Tell Blog)
Kung Pao Style Ramen Noodles (Kitchen Concoctions)
Homemade Fortune Cookies (Our Best Bites)
Chicken Lettuce Wraps (Kitchen Concoctions)
Sesame-Crusted Salmon (Annie’s Eats)