I have cookbook to share and giveaway in celebration of Chinese New Year: *Chinese Soul Food: A Friendly Guide for Homemade Dumplings, Stir-Fries, Soups, and More, by Hsiao-Ching Chou (Sasquatch Books, January 30, 2018)
Chinese Soul Food is classic comfort food you can’t resist, and in this cookbook you’ll find 80 recipes for favorites you can easily make any night of the week.
Chinese food is more popular than any other cuisine and yet it often intimidates North American home cooks. Chinese Soul Food draws cooks into the kitchen with recipes that include sizzling potstickers, stir-fries that are unbelievably easy to make, saucy braises, and soups that bring comfort with a sip. These are dishes that feed the belly and speak the universal language of “mmm!”
You’ll find approachable recipes and plenty of tips for favorite homestyle Chinese dishes, such as red-braised pork belly, dry-fried green beans, braised-beef noodle soup, green onion pancakes, garlic eggplant, and the author’s famous pot stickers, which consistently sell out her cooking classes in Seattle.
You will also find helpful tips and techniques, such as caring for and using a wok and how to cook rice properly, as well as a basic Chinese pantry list that also includes acceptable substitutions, making it even simpler for the busiest among us to cook their favorite Chinese dishes at home. Recipes are streamlined to minimize the fear factor of unfamiliar ingredients and techniques, and home cooks are gently guided toward becoming comfortable cooking satisfying Chinese meals.
The daughter of immigrants, Chou was raised in Columbia, Missouri, where her parents ran a Chinese restaurant, and is an award-winning food journalist, a cooking instructor, and is a member of the James Beard Foundation cookbook committee and Les Dames d’Escoffier.
You can find your favorites Chinese dishes in this cookbook, like General Tso’s Chicken, Cashew Chicken, Beef with Broccoli, along with pot stickers, dumplings, wontons, egg rolls, rice, noodles and sauces. I was intrigued by the Dry-Fried Green Beans recipe which was a popular dish at her parents’ restaurant.
Dry-Fried Green Beans
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
3/4 pound green beans (haricots verts or regular)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
4 ounces unseasoned ground pork or ground beef (about 1/4 cup)
1 stalk green onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Trim the green beans and cut them in half. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels. Set aside.
Preheat a wok over medium-high heat until wisps of smoke rise from the surface. Add 1/3 cup of the oil and heat for 30 to 60 seconds, or until it starts to shimmer. In batches, add the beans to the oil in a single layer. Quickly stir-fry the beans, gently swishing them around in the oil. The skins of the beans will start to blister. Once you see that most of the beans look lightly wrinkled but not necessarily browned, about 1 to 2 minutes, using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to the prepared paper towel–lined baking sheet to absorb the residual oil. Repeat with the remaining beans. Use a wad of paper towels to absorb any residual oil in the wok and brush away any charred pieces.
Return the wok to the stove over high heat, and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the pork and, using a spatula, break up the pork. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, or until brown and cooked through. Add the onions, ginger, and garlic, and stir and toss for a few seconds to combine. Add the soy sauce, water, and sugar, and stir to combine.
Add the beans, and stir and toss for a few seconds to combine. If it doesn’t taste salty enough, add an additional splash of soy sauce, and stir to incorporate. Serve with steamed rice.
There is a celebration section in the cookbook for Chinese New Year, along with a sample menu. Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, (also known as Spring Festival), falls in the period from January 21 to February 20, beginning with the first new moon of the year. It is celebrated around the world, but the main festivities are in China as well as other Asian countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Korea.
According to tradition, each year of the Chinese calendar is associated with one of the twelve zodiac signs: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, or pig. You can read more about the attributes and the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, here.
2018 is the Year of the Dog with the New Year arriving February 16th. As the year ends with an eight, it’s been considered a lucky year by the Chinese, since eight is a lucky number.
Gracie wants to know if she gets some extra treats and it’s a lucky Year of the Dog for her. :)
Chinese New Year festivities start the day before the New Year and traditionally last 15 days, ending with the Lantern Festival. Family members are expected to return home, with businesses going on holiday and students getting extended time off.
In celebration of Chinese New Year, I pulled together a little table inspiration from the archives. You can see the entire table the Year of the Rooster, here, with Ralph Lauren Mandarin Blue and a themed Chinese New Year table runner with oranges, red votives, mini orchids, narcissus bulbs, fortune cookies, sparklers and Good Fortune chocolate coins, parading down the center of the table in celebration.
The Chinese New Year is full of dragon dances, fireworks, feasts, gift-giving, and lantern festivals. Red is the Chinese national color and represents happiness, beauty, success and good fortune. Red envelopes containing money are also given out to children by their families to wish them longevity and a happy New Year. Because eight is a lucky number, you will see eight represented in different ways, including dishes that include eight ingredients or menus that include eight dishes.
Here’s a fun fact that I learned in Chinese Soul Food:
In the U.S. you can order ‘lucky money’ from the Treasury Department, which are dollar bills printed with a serial number that starts with four eights. The bills arrive sheathed in plastic and set in a large red card and matching envelopes.
Orchids are considered to be symbolic of ‘many children’ or fertility and abundance in Chinese culture, and signify refinement, luxury and innocence.
Fish is considered a lucky food to eat during Chinese New Year, to bring an increase in prosperity and wish for a surplus in the new year.
Resembling the sun, oranges are aligned with the yang (positive) principle, being an auspicious symbol of abundance and happiness. Oranges and tangerines are among the good luck foods, said to bring wealth and luck.
Narcissus or Water Fairy Flowers are a symbol of good fortune and prosperity, and a common flower of the China New Year festival. The growth springing from the brown bulbs, symbolizes the beginning of a new year.
For a chance to win a copy of Chinese Soul Food, leave a comment telling me your favorite Chinese dish or restaurant.
This giveaway is open to those living in the continental US. A winner will be chosen February 23rd.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.
“Chinese New Year ultimately is about reuniting the family around the table, honoring the elders and the departed, and celebrating our collective good fortune to be in this world.” ~ Hsiao-Ching Chou, Chinese Soul Food
Excerpted from Chinese Soul Food by permission of Sasquatch Books.©2018 by Hsiao-Ching Chou. All rights reserved.
*Thank you to Sasquatch Books for providing a copy of Chinese Soul Food.