Welcoming the rooster

The Chinese zodiac year of the Fire Rooster started on January 28, 2017.  Together with a few friends I decided to welcome the year of the rooster, by cooking a Chinese meal.  Our host had selected the dishes for us to cook and done all the shopping!

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As you can tell, we started proceedings with a glass of bubbly – just one glass though, there was work to be done yet!!  We cooked five dishes in total:

Simple Thai-style Lemongrass Shrimp Soup:

The soup only required two ingredients which might not be in your cupboard:  fish sauce and chili paste with garlic.  You should be able to find both of them at an Asian grocery store or in the speciality section of a larger supermarket.  The remaining ingredients are easy to find.

The finished soup was delicious, wonderful flavours of ginger and lemongrass.  Definitely one I will make again!

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Duck pancakes with hoisin sauce:

Preparing that dish was fairly straightforward, but different to the classic way of using crispy duck.  In this recipe, skinless duck breast was cut into strips, then stir fried and finished off with hoisin sauce.  We decided to substitute lettuce leaves for the pancakes, which made the dish lighter and gave it a bit of a crunch.

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King prawn and scallop stir fry:

The king prawn and scallop stir fry required a fair amount of preparation, but it was very quick to cook!  We substituted sherry for the rice wine, and there were some asparagus spears, so they went in as well! :).

It tasted every bit as good as it looked!

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Chicken and cashew nut stir-fry:

The chicken and cashew nut stir fry is an old favourite, which was easy to make.  It was great in that it required no special ingredients.

Once all the vegetables and ingredients were prepared, the cooking was very quick!  Another delicious dish!

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Mandarin Oranges with Grand Marnier and Mascarpone:

We finished our celebratory meal with a light and refreshing dessert.  It was a perfect ending to a delicious meal!

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Kung Hei Fat Choy – Happy Chinese New Year!!

Our cookery group gathered on January 31 and, as that day was marked as the start of Chinese New Year, there was no question as to what the theme for our session would be!!  Our hostess had decided on the following menu:

  • Crab meat soup
  • Chicken with green peppers and cashew nuts
  • Sweet and sour pork
  • Special fried rice
  • Choi sum in oyster sauce
  • Carrot salad with sesame seeds
  • Aromatic and crispy duck
  • Fruit salad

When we arrived two tables had been set:  the kitchen table with all the ingredients and recipes we would need, and the dining table in readiness for our feast!  Since this new year is the Year of the Horse, our hostess had placed a beautiful sculpture of a black lacquer horse at the centre of the dining table.

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P1080305The very first task was to cut the duck in half and to get it simmering in a broth which contained all kinds of wonderful ingredients: fresh ginger, soy sauce, yellow bean paste, sherry, star anise, five spice powder, sugar and stock.

Once the duck was on the stove we ran through the menu and recipes, and decided on who would cook what.  Soon everyone was busy, peeling, chopping and slicing.  I had taken on the task of preparing the special fried rice, and was to help with the aromatic and crispy duck later.

You can see how much progress we were making!  Of course a glass of champagne helped speed the preparations along nicely!! 🙂

Our hostess decided that we would start our meal with the crab meat soup,  follow that up with all of the other dishes, except for the duck, which was to be eaten last.  So that’s what we did.  Here is the soup:

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It was very delicious, with just the right balance of flavours and textures!  Next came some more cooking;  first the sweet and sour pork,

…then the special fried rice.

IMG_8931Here is the chicken with green pepper and cashew nuts,

… and finally it was the turn of the Choi sum:

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And what a feast it turned out to be!!

Each dish had a very different character, but they were all equally delicious!!  We didn’t gorge ourselves too much, being mindful of the aromatic and crispy duck that was yet to come!  After having been simmered until tender and left to cool, the duck halves were deep-fried to crisp the skin.

And after only about 12 minutes in the bubbling oil, the duck was ready to serve!!  Our hostess thought that pancakes might be a little on the heavy side to wrap the duck in, and had opted for leaves of iceberg lettuce instead.  Good move!

IMG_8963The duck was as yummy as it looks, the meat shredded and wrapped in lettuce with shreds of spring onion and cucumber, and with a dab of plum sauce – heavenly!

And here is the fruit salad to end our New Year’s feast!!

IMG_8965We all felt very happy that we’d been able to mark the start of the Year of the Horse in such a splendid way!!