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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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!