By Suzanne Corbett, Travel / Food Editor
It took several days — 72 hours to be exact–before the USA Olympic team got their first gold medal. Lindsey Jacobellis started the gold-medal winning party when she became the oldest American woman to place at any Winter Games in the snowboard cross final. Figure skater Nathan Chen and snowboarder Chloe Kim added to America’s gold medal count a day later with wins in the men’s free skate program and the women’s halfpipe, respectively. Maybe they should have tried some of our good luck foods– especially since the Olympics are in China.
February has brought two stand out events involving China: The Chinese New Year and the Beijing Winter Olympics. Two events I welcomed and continue to celebrate. That said, to ensue Team USA, good luck and medal count continues to climb, I’ve decided to keep eating for luck as the Chinese do during their new year. Indulging in dishes that promise prosperity, success and a long life.
Topping menu, noodle dishes. Noodles promise happiness and a long life. Fish lovers who aren’t taken back by having the whole fish served on their plate can cook up serve up their catch Chinese style. Cooked and served whole, complete with the head, which represents a good beginning and a good end. A good beginning and good end is what any athlete aims for in their performance or game. And let us not forget about having enough money in your pocket. Eating dumplings can help with that. A staple dish for the Chinese new year, dumplings represents future wealth and a filled purse.
Chinese cuisine is a varied, with cooking styles reflecting each region. In Beijing the cooking style is Mandarin and Peking, also known as Jing style. The most famous dish, Peking duck.
Cantonese cuisine, one of the first Chinese cuisines to become popular in the US, brought spring rolls, sweet and sour pork and chow mein to the table.
Those who wish to step back from take-out and try your hand recreating some of your favorite Chinese dishes, Michele Cuccovillo, co-founder of bottowmlessbrunch.com can help. Chef has shared recipes for Chow Mein and Vegetable Spring Rolls. Both are simple and classic. Recipes I consider gold medal standards.
Chicken Chow Mein
8 ounces fresh egg noodles
1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus 1 tsp
100g chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
2½ tbsp groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 ounces snow peas, finely shredded
1 carrot, finely shredded
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine
½ tsp freshly ground white pepper
½ tsp golden caster sugar
In a pan of boiling water, cook the egg noodles for 3-5 mins, then drain and transfer them to cold water. Remove them and drain thoroughly, toss them with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and put to one side.
In a bowl combine your chopped chicken breast with 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 2 tsp rice wine, ½ teaspoon white pepper and ½ tsp salt for the marinade, mix together and leave to marinate.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add in 1 tbsp groundnut oil and add the chicken, stir-frying until cooked.
In another wok, add 1½ tablespoon of groundnut oil and wait until hot, add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and stir-fry until fragrant, before adding the finely shredded snow pea and finely shredded carrot, stir fry for a minute.
Add in the noodles, 2 teaspoon light soy sauce, 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce,1 tablespoon rice wine, ½ teaspoon golden caster sugar, 2 finely chopped spring onions and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
Add in the chicken to the noodles and vegetables and stir-fry until everything is warmed through.
Add 1 teaspoon sesame oil and give everything a good stir, before putting it on a plate to
Makes four servings
Vegetable Spring Rolls
A packet of spring roll sheets
1/2 Chinese cabbage, finely sliced
1 handful of beansprouts
1/2 large carrot, finely sliced lengthways
2 ounces rice noodles
2 cloves of crushed garlic
½-inch slice ginger root, minced
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of rice wine
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
3 tablespoon cornflour, mixed with 3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Soak the noodles in warm water for around 10 minutes
Place a wok over a high heat and add your sesame oil, cabbage, carrots and beansprouts and stir fry for around a minute. Add in your crushed garlic and ginger and cook for a few more minutes, before adding the soy sauce, rice wine, spring onions and coriander.
Transfer everything from the pan into a bowl and leave it to cool slightly, draining off any excess moisture. Drain the soaked noodles well and then stir them into the vegetables.
To make spring rolls, place a layer of spring roll pastry on a clean work surface, with one of the corners facing you. Place around a tablespoon of the vegetable mixture on the corner of the pastry and slowly diagonally roll the pastry up tightly around the filling. When you get closer to the center of the pastry, tuck in the corners on either side, then brush a small amount of the cornflour mixture onto the remaining corner, finish rolling it up and press together to seal it.
Repeat this process with the rest of the mixture and pastry to form your spring rolls.
Finish by filling a saucepan with oil and heat to around 375 degrees. Fry the spring rolls in batches for 2–3 minutes, until golden and crispy. Drain and paper towels. Serve. Makes 10 servings.
Oven Steamed Chinese Style Sea Bass
(Photo at the top of the page)
2 ounce piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 whole large sea bass (1 ½ pounds), gutted and cleaned*
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp palm sugar
1 spring onion, diced diagonally
¼ cup coriander
½ fresh red chille, finely sliced diagonally
Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Place half the ginger inside the fish. Take a piece of foil large enough to wrap fish and place on a work surface. Place fish on foil, add a tablespoon of water, then and fold the sides of the foil up around the fish. Place foil on a baking sheet and place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until fish is flaky. Remove from oven.
As fish oven steams, make sauce by combining light and dark soy sauce, oil, palm sugar, and a tablespoon of water in a saucepan, heating until bubbling. Remove from heat.
To serve, place fish on serving plate. Top fish with the spring onion, chilli, coriander and the remaining ginger. Pour sauce over fish. Makes 2-4 servings
*Editor’s note: The recipe would work well using trout.