Thursday, February 17, 2011

Iron Chef: Lunar New Year

So my new editor, the one from Union City Patch, called me to ask if I had any photos for my latest article on Lunar New Year.

"" I admitted, then hastily added, "But I can get some for you. I, uh, was planning to make an Asian style dinner tonight." (I'd actually planned to make burgers, but an impromptu LNY dinner was much more intriguing-- and a heck of a challenge.

After the conversation, I quickly Googled a bunch of recipes on my Blackberry. One shopping trip to my local Ranch 99 and some advice from one of the ladies that worked there ("You want the red bean cakes, not the moon cakes. That's another festival."), I had all the ingredients. Two hours after that, dinner was ready.

We ate Steamed Red Snapper (a recipe I tweaked),Longevity Noodles, and gyoza (store bought). In an attempt to recognize the Vietnamese side of things, I tried to find banh chung, but no luck--I ended up with the regular kind. But I have to admit, that and the brown sugar cake was pretty darn tasty. The pictures looked pretty good too--my editor was very pleased.

The whole experience taught me a lot about Lunar New Year and how it's celebrated. Who knows? Next year, maybe I'll celebrate it with some friends. :)

Note: The original recipe comes from Everyday Chinese Cooking: Quick and Delicious Recipes from the Leann Chin Restaurants.

Steamed Red Snapper


* 1 1/2 pounds whole walleye or red snapper, well cleaned
* 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon sugar
* 1 teaspoon soy sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
* 2 green onions, with tops

1. Slash the fish crosswise 3 times on each side. In a small bowl, mix the ginger, vegetable oil, garlic, salt, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil; rub the cavity and outside of the fish with the mixture. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or longer.
2. Cut the green onions into 2-inch pieces; shred lengthwise into fine strips. Place in a bowl with ice water to cover; let stand 10 minutes, or until the strips curl. Place the fish in a steamer, if you have one and cook for 10 minutes. If not, place on a cooling rack (See note below). Place the rack over a pot of boiling water and cover with a lid until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 10 minutes. (Add boiling water if necessary). Garnish with the green onions.

Note: If you want to cook this fish in the microwave, cover the fish with plastic wrap on a microwave dish and cook for 3 minutes on high. Let stand for 2 minutes and rotate the dish. Cook an additional 2 minutes on high.

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