poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie

Year of the Tiger


It’s embarrassing to be posting this so SO late, but here it is anyway. Some of you may recall last year’s Chinese New Year dumpling party. I was pretty much dumpling-ed out, as I spent almost the entire evening frying up potstickers instead of enjoying the company of my lovely guests. This year, I decided to host Chinese New Year dinner again, but on a much smaller scale. First, only 5 guests instead of 20. Second, dumplings were still on the menu, but they would be served as a starter, and they would be steamed instead of fried so I could cook all of them in one batch. Third, I added some more traditional items (see below). Finally, it was more relaxed dinner party instead of last year’s dumpling free for all.


  1. Pickled cucumbers. I should really write down the recipe for these things, because they are the bomb. Alas, I always make it up as I go along. I chop up 3-4 pounds pickling cucumbers + goodly amount of vinegar, sugar, chili sauce, garlic, salt, and ginger. Let it stew overnight in the fridge. Don’t worry if they look a little dry — by the powers of osmosis, plenty of water will leave the cucumbers and get into the pickling juice.  This particular batch was a big hit, even though I went a little overboard on the chili.

    My very own homemade pickled cucumbers.

  2. Veggie dumplings. They’re the same ones I made last year, with the same substitutions. I really love these — the flavors are awesome together. As I mentioned, I cooked them in my ginormous steamer and they turned out wonderfully, with so much less effort.

    The filling for the veggie dumplings.

    My hardworking dumpling wrapping team.

    Pre-steam. Pretty good wrapping job, wouldn't you agree?

    Cooked and ready to go!

  3. Hot and sour soup. I adapted a recipe that my sister gave me. If I can find it, I’ll post it later. Anyway, it was hella bomb and much better than last year’s soup.

    Hot and sour soup. Delish!

  4. Turnip cakes. I did not make these from scratch, but instead picked up a pack from the 99 Ranch, sliced them up and fried them. They were delicious.

    Turnip cakes in the pan. Sizzle sizzle.

Main Course:

  1. Steamed fish. Forgive me, but I don’t remember the kind of fish I bought. (Bonus points for the first person who can identify said fish!) It was some sort of flaky white fish, and I waited in the mayhem that is pre-Chinese New Year 99 Ranch fish line for a good 20-30 minutes to obtain it. I had never cooked a whole fish like this before, and to serve it whole was also a very memorable experience. No one ate the eyeballs, FWIW.

    Steamed fish. Totally worth the effort at 99 Ranch.

    I steamed the fish and then made a sauce of soy, sugar, ginger, garlic in a separate pan. After pouring the sauce over the cooked fish, I garnished it with cilantro. The reason it’s auspicious to eat fish on Chinese New Year is because the Chinese word for fish sounds like part of the phrase for “plenty.” So, to eat fish is to have a plentiful and prosperous year.

  2. Stir-fried rice cakes. Not pictured. These are like Chinese gnocchi. The Koreans also cook them, and they are sold in the store as “ovalettes.” I stir fried them with Napa cabbage and pork. It was delicious… so much so that I didn’t get to take a photo before we ravaged it.
  3. Veggies. I made my usual, go-to vegetable dish of baby Bok choy and shiitake mushrooms. It was a hit. There’s no photo of this dish because I’ve featured it a couple of times already.

Dessert: I let JA take care of this, since I was already pretty stressed about the appetizers and entrée. He made miniature flourless chocolate cakes with homemade ginger reduction and served with a few slices of orange. A sweet ending to a great meal!

Flourless chocolate cake. Not very Chinese but definitely very yummy.

Here's to a prosperous and happy New Year!

Author: Jen

Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

10 thoughts on “Year of the Tiger

  1. Tilapia! Damn was that good. All together, one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

  2. This looks amazing! I wish I had been there to eat the fish eyes!

    • Next time you’re in SF, I’ll cook the fish again and you’re going to have to eat the fish eyes! And of course this will be documented. 🙂

  3. Looks delicious! I’m always impressed with your cooking abilities, Jen. Just wish I was close enough to be one of the Elite 5. Notice I ASSUME I’d be in the top 5 ;)…

  4. is anybody else singing “Eye of the Tiger” in her head while reading this?

  5. I have to say, I’m REALLY impressed by the dumpling wrappers!

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