Skye’s Scran for SCAN: Chinese New Year

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Pineapple Tarts: Photograph - Skye King

Hi everyone! My inspiration for this week’s food column is Chinese New Year, which this year starts on the 8th February, and is celebrated for a further fifteen days!

 

The recipes below are just a few of the many delicacies enjoyed around the world during the Chinese New Year festive period. Anyhow, I hope you like these recipes, and I would like to wish you ‘Gong Xi Fai Cai’ (wishing you prosperity this year).

 

Chinese Tea Eggs

In North China tea eggs represent golden nuggets for the Chinese New Year feast, and symbolise prosperity!

Serves: 8 | Prep time: 1 hour | Cook time: 5 hours – Overnight

 

Ingredients

8 eggs

180ml soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese black tea leaves

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon mandarin orange zest

 

Method

  1. Place the eggs in a medium pot and fill it with water, enough to cover the eggs plus an extra inch.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat, simmering for an additional 20 minutes.
  3. Use a ladle to remove the eggs from the pot and let them cool under running cold water.
  4. Then use the back of the spoon to lightly tap the eggs all over, gently cracking its shells, but do this delicately to ensure the shell is intact (do NOT remove the shell!).
  5. Return the cracked eggs into the boiled water. Add all the other ingredients in to the pot and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low.
  6. Simmer for an additional 40 minutes, cover with lid and let the cracked eggs soak for a few hours or overnight. The longer you soak the eggs, the more tasty and marbled the tea eggs will turn out.

 

Recipe inspiration source:

http://steamykitchen.com/2147-chinese-tea-eggs-recipe.html

 

Jiaozi (Dumplings)

Chinese families traditionally eat jiaozi on Chinese New Year’s Eve as the dumplings symbolise longevity and wealth, because their shape is similar to gold Chinese ingots (how Chinese currency looked like in ancient times).

Serves: makes approximately 24 dumplings | Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients

For the dumpling filling:

230g Chinese cabbage, finely chopped

230g ground pork

60g spring onions (green and white parts), finely chopped

115g chopped chives

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1 knob (1-inch) fresh ginger, grated

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

230g round wheat dumpling wrappers

 

For the dipping sauce:

60ml soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon thinly sliced scallions, white part only

1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Method

  1. To make the dumpling filling, in a large bowl stir together the cabbage, pork, spring onions, chives, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil, until combined.
  2. Next shape the dumplings by holding a dumpling wrapper flat in the palm of your hand and in the center of the wrapper place 2 teaspoons of the filling.
  3. Wet the edges of the wrapper and fold the dumpling in half to create a half-moon shape. Ensure to press out the air to seal the dumpling and use your fingers to pinch little pleats around the edge of the half circle. Repeat until you have used all the dumpling filling up.
  4. Now to cook the dumplings, there are three different ways to do so: boiling, steaming and frying. The most traditional way is to boil them which is what we are going to do. So first bring a large pot of water to a slow boil and then add the dumplings cooking until they float to the surface.
  5. Then add about a cup of cold water and when the water returns to a boil, add yet another cup of cold water. When the dumplings float to the surface again, use a slotted spoon to remove them.
  6. Lastly, to make the dipping sauce, combine the soy sauce with the rice vinegar, scallions, sesame seeds, and black pepper in a small bowl.

 

Recipe inspiration source:

http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-classic-chinese-dumplings-jiaozi-228007

Wonton Soup

Though this soup is not strictly a Chinese New Year’s dish, it is a staple Chinese comfort food, as it is a hearty and nourishing and something everyone loves all-year round.

Serves: 3-4 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes

 

Ingredients

225g peeled and deveined big shrimp

28g spring onions, chopped finely

15 wonton wrappers

Water, for boiling wontons

 

For the seasonings:

1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder

1/4 teaspoon fish sauce

Pinch of salt

3 dashes white pepper

1/2 teaspoon corn starch

 

For the soup: 

750ml chicken broth

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste

Sesame oil to taste

 

Method

  1. Rinse the shrimps, pat them dry with paper towels and then cut each into 4 pieces.
  2. Add half of the chopped spring onions into a bowl with the shrimp and marinate with the seasonings for an hour.
  3. Place a wonton wrapper on your palm and in the center place 1 teaspoon of the filling.
  4. Gather the corners of the wrapper with your other hand and pinch in the middle to seal the wonton. Make sure the wontons are sealed tightly. Repeat until the filling is used up.
  5. Next to prepare the soup, bring the chicken broth to the boil. Then add the salt, white pepper, and sesame oil and remaining spring onions.
  6. Heat up another pot with water and as soon as it boils, put all wontons into the water. To ensure the wontons don’t stick together, stir gently.
  7. Continue to boil until the wontons are completely cooked and float to the top.
  8. Take the wontons out of the water with a slotted spoon and add into the soup.

 

Recipe inspiration source:

http://rasamalaysia.com/wonton-soup-recipe

 

Pineapple Tarts

Pineapple tarts are not a traditionally Chinese snack, however in Malaysia (where I was born) and Singapore, these moreish little treats are almost always served during Chinese New Year gatherings, along with other snacks. So here’s a sweet taste of my home!

Prep time: 40 minutes | Cook time: 2 hours (pineapple jam) Bake time: 20-25 minutes

 

Ingredients

For the pastry:

350g all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch (corn flour)

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons icing sugar

225g butter

2 egg yolks

 

For the pineapple jam filling:

2 fresh pineapples

10 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tablespoon cloves (optional)

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a tray with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the skin off the pineapples, cut them into pieces and transfer the chunks into a blender. Blend the chunks for roughly 10 seconds.
  3. Move the blended pineapple into a deep pan and add the sugar and cloves.
  4. Stir well and cook the mixture on medium to low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated, and the pineapple mixture has turned into a jam texture and is golden in color.
  5. Once your jam is done, remove the cloves if used and let it cool in the fridge.
  6. In a big bowl sieve the flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar then soften the butter to room temperature.
  7. Next combine the flour mixture, butter, and egg yolks all together, kneading to form a dough. You’ll know it is ready when it doesn’t stick to your hand.
  8. Divide the dough into portions (approximately a tablespoon) and flatten with the palms of your hand to form the tart base. Alternatively use a round cookie cutter.
  9. Then divide the pineapple jam filling into equal portions (approximately a heaped teaspoon) and roll them into round balls with your palms. Lastly place the rolled pineapple jam filling on top of each tart.
  10. On the prepared tray place the tarts at least 1/2 inch apart of each other and bake for 20-25 minutes or until light brown.

 

Recipe inspiration source:

http://novice-baker.blogspot.co.uk/2008/02/time-flies-faster-in-kk-and-pineapple.html