Chinese new year dinner

I don’t remember when Chinese new year became such a mainstream event in Australia but this year feels extra noticeable. I’m sure it’s been celebrated every year but I see that even the banks have decided to decorate their offices with copious amounts of Chinese advertising. I guess with every other festival, holiday etc., Chinese new year is another great commercial opportunity…however, it is also a good reason to catch up with friends and family around food.

For our Chinese new year dinner this year, we aimed to make dishes that were simple and quick to prepare. Having started full time work this year, I have come to realise the true meaning of tiredness* and the value of weekends after emerging from a 2 day uni schedule. Thus, I did not want to spend a precious week night slaving away in the kitchen.

Two dishes that I turned to on the night were wasabi beef and drunken chicken. Both take minimal time to prepare and taste delicious. With the wasabi beef, I resorted to velveting the meat with baking soda to eliminate any sinewy chewy bits. I’m still unsure whether this is a good idea as it feels like I’m altering the texture of the meat. However, it tasted alright in the end and went well with some wasabi mayo.

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Here’s the recipe

Ingredients 

  • 700-800 grams scotch fillet or other similar cut
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • Just under 1 tbsp wasabi paste
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 0.5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2-3 leaves iceberg lettuce sliced thinly

Wasabi mayo

  • 0.5 tbsp wasabi paste
  • 2.5 tbsp mayonnaise (i used whole egg im sure most are fine)
  1. Slice beef into 0.5-1 cm thick bite size pieces. Cut across the grain.
  2. Mix in the baking soda making sure it touches all the meat. Rest for 15-20 minutes
  3. After resting wash thoroughly. Very thoroughly… you don’t want an aftertaste of baking soda with your wasabi
  4. After drying and removing as much water as possible from the beef, mix in all the other ingredients with the beef except for oil and lettuce leaves. Let marinate for at least half an hour
  5. Heat oil in pan/wok on high heat. Scatter beef around the pan/wok and don’t touch. You don’t want to release the juices and end up stewing the beef.
  6. Fry for around 1 minute then mix around letting the other sides of the beef get some charring.
  7. Keep frying for around 4-5 minutes then taste one piece to see whether it needs any salt/sugar/pepper
  8. In the mean time of cooking, you could quickly lay some of the sliced lettuce nicely around your dish. It’s a bit kitschy but a bit of green looks better imo.
  9. After your beef is done dish out and place on top of lettuce.
  10. Mix the mayonnaise and wasabi paste together and serve. Enjoy!

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The other dish, drunken chicken, can be prepared the night before and is served chilled so no reheating required. I know that most recipes usually recommend shao xing wine, but recently I tried one prepared using a pickling wine concoction and it was really delicious and aromatic. Here’s a pic of the wine.. it may be found at your local asian grocer

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Here’s the recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 kg chicken wings cleaned
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A tray of ice cubes
  • 500ml bottle of pickling wine
  • 200 ml chicken stock
  • 5-6 goji berries (optional)
  • A bit of spring onion jullienned lengthwise to garnish
  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and steam for around 15-20 minutes until cooked. Turn halfway. You may want to check at 15 minutes to see whether they are just cooked. They taste a bit dry if overdone
  2. When your chicken is about done mix the ice with a bowl of water (enough to submerge the chicken in). When chicken is done take out and plunge into icy water. This will keep the chicken skin taught.
  3. Mix pickling wine and stock in bowl/pot (one with higher sides).
  4. Place chicken into liquid making sure they are all submerged in the wine mixture.
  5. Chuck in the goji berries
  6. Cover and place in the fridge overnight
  7. When ready to serve take out and arrange on plate and garnish with spring onion. Enjoy!

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