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Happy New Year!

China ushers in year 4707 with the ox

January 20, 2009
By Mary Ann Menendez - Staff Writer

The Chinese New Year is fast approaching and may this next year be as "strong as an ox!"

Perhaps our Chinese friends know how to welcome in any new year as it is the longest and most important celebration of the entire year for this ancient Asian culture.

Speaking of year, this will mark the beginning of the Chinese year 4707 on Monday, Jan. 26. This New Year celebration lasts for 15 days. It is at that time when the moon is the brightest.

According to Chinese legend, 2009 may be an obstinate year. It was Buddha who invited all in the animal kingdom to meet with him on Chinese New Year.

Only 12 arrived. In their honor Buddha glorified each by naming a year for them and noted any person born in each animal's year would have something of the animal's personality.

Anyone born in the year of the ox is stable, fearless, obstinate, hard-working and friendly. Some careers of persons born include painter, engineer and architect. The last time it was the Year of the Ox was in 1997.

Famous individuals born in the Year of the Ox include: President Barack Obama, actor George Clooney, boxer Oscar De La Hoya and soccer star Wayne Rooney.

The Chinese celebrate this time as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving.

Embrace the Year of the Ox with one or all of the following recipes.

New Year Meatballs

2 pounds ground pork butt

3 scallions, finely chopped

2 slices ginger root, finely chopped

2 tablespoons dry sherry

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons vegetable shortening

1 pound Chinese cabbage (bok choy), quartered lengthwise

1 cup chicken stock

Mix together the pork, scallions, ginger, sherry and cornstarch. Shape the mixture into 6 to 8 meatballs. Melt shortening in a deep pan. Add the cabbage and remaining salt and fry for 30 seconds. Place the meatballs on top of the cabbage and pour the stock over the top. Bring to the boil, then cover tightly and simmer gently for 30 to 45 minutes. Serve hot on top of the cabbage.

Szechuan-Style

Pork Dinner

Boneless pork chops, three-eighths-inch thick

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons dry sherry

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon brown sugar

One-fourth teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Brown chops on one side in oil with garlic in nonstick pan over medium heat; turn. Combine sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper; pour over chops. Cover and simmer gently for 12-15 minutes. Combine water and cornstarch; add to pan and cook until thickened. Serve with hot cooked noodles or rice, if desired.

New Year

Chicken Dish

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 1 pound

1 egg white

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon dry white wine or sherry

4 green onions

1 teaspoon minced ginger root

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons oil

Hot cooked rice

Sauce:

1 tablespoon ketchup

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons dry white wine or sherry

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Place chicken breasts in freezer for 1 to 2 hours or until very firm but not frozen solid. Slice crosswise into thin shreds. In small bowl, lightly beat egg white, Mix in 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon wine, stirring until cornstarch is dissolved. Add chicken and mix well to coat all pieces. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, slice green onions on the diagonal into very thin slices. Mince ginger root and garlic. Combine sauce ingredients, mixing well. Heat wok or frying pan, add oil and stir-fry chicken until no longer pink. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon. Add onions, ginger and garlic to wok and stir fry about 30 seconds, until ginger and garlic are fragrant but not brown. Return chicken to wok, continuing stirring sauce ingredients and add to wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is well combined, hot and bubbly and thickens slightly. Serve over hot rice.

Chinese

Pepper Steak

1 1/2 pounds flank steak

Marinade:

5 teaspoons Chinese dry sherry

4 teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Sauce:

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons barbecue sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 small tomatoes

1 green bell pepper

1 orange bell pepper

2 cloves garlic

2 green onions

6 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed

Cut the beef across the grain into 1-inch cubes. Add sherry, soy sauce and cornstarch. Marinate the beef in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil and marinate for another 30 minutes. While the beef is marinating, prepare the sauce and vegetables. Combine sauce ingredients and set aside. Wash the vegetables as needed. Peel the tomatoes and cut into 6 equal wedges. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and cut into cubes. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Cut the green onions on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces.

Heat the wok over medium-high to high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add half the beef. Brown briefly, then stir-fry until the beef changes color and is nearly cooked through. Remove from the wok. Cook the remaining beef, adding 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and green onion. Stir-fry until aromatic (about 30 seconds). Add the green pepper. Stir-fry for 1 minute, and then add the orange bell pepper. Stir-fry for another minute, and add the tomato wedges. Stir-fry until the vegetables are softened. (Total cooking time is about 3 to 4 minutes). Push the vegetables up to the side of the pan. Add the sauce in the middle of the wok. Heat briefly then add all of the beef back into the pan. Mix everything together. Taste and add extra sugar or soy sauce if desired. Serve hot over rice.

Citrus Chicken

2 tablespoons dry sherry

4 green onions, chopped

1 piece of root ginger, shredded

1 pound boned chicken, cut into 1-inch strips

2 celery stalks, sliced

4 ounces button mushrooms, quartered

1 green pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

Shredded rind of 2 lemons

A few lemon slices to garnish

2 tablespoons oil for stir-frying

Put the sherry, onions and ginger in a bowl. Add the chicken, toss well to coat, then leave to marinate in the bowl for 15 minutes. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Add the celery, mushrooms and green pepper. Stir-fry for one minute. Add chicken and marinade. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and lemon rind then cook for one minute. Pile into a warmed serving dish and garnish with lemon slices.

New Year

Sponge Cake

4 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 cups self-rising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons shortening

3 tablespoons oil

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is thick and pale in color. Stir in the milk. Sift the flour, soda and salt together and fold into the egg mixture. Melt the shortening and allow to cool. Mix with the oil. Gently stir into the egg mixture. Pour into a greased 8-inch round cake tin and steam for 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin while still hot. Cut into 6 to 8 wedges and serve hot or cold.

 
 

 

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