Kung Hei Fat Choy - that's Happy New Year in Chinese. In 2015 it falls on February 19th when the year of the Sheep (goat or ram - depending on where you are in the world) kicks off. I love Chinese food, or perhaps I should say that I love what we in the west consider to be Chinese food. I'm never sure how authentic our version actually is.
Edinburgh based Kwan's Kitchen produce a range of authentic stir fry meal kits. They specialise in restaurant quality without the use of msg, artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. I received all four of their kits to try - Sweet Chilli, Blackbean & Garlic, Aromatic Curry and Spicy Szechuan. Each kit is recommended to serve 2 although I had no problem eeking it out to serve the four of us by increasing the quantity of meat and vegetables. The 1,2,3 step process makes it all very quick and easy. Add seasoning to meat, stir fry and add paste, drizzle over oil or add garnish. I was somewhat wary of the Hot 3 Chilli warning on the Spicy Szechuan kit so passed it to a friend as I'm a bit of a woose however Stephen Kwan, MD at Kwan's Kitchen told me that I could have omitted the use of the Szechuan chilli oil just used a little at the end to customise my heat level. Useful to know. We thoroughly enjoyed both the Curry and the Sweet Chilli and following a recommendation on Instagram I'm going to try the Blackbean & Garlic with Scottish Salmon. Details of stockists can be found here. Delighted to see so many close to me in Aberdeenshire.
I loved the Gok Cooks Chinese series on Channel 4 a couple of years back and duly purchased the book. I've made quite a few of the recipes from it but our absolute favourite and the one I keep coming back to is Poppa Wan’s Simple Soy-Glazed Chicken. It really is simple, quick and very tasty. Its also just occurred to me that the Duck Breast & Plum Salad recipe I blogged last week for Valentine's Day could well be considered Chinese. Duck, plums, star anise, ginger, noodles and soy sauce. Now for one of my own, Chinese Chicken Pie. This is perfect for using up leftover chicken after a Sunday roast.
CHINESE CHICKEN PIE
150g Shitake Mushrooms
2 tsp Grated or Lazy Ginger
25g Plain Flour
300g Chicken Stock
100g Frozen Petit Pois
500g Cooked Chicken
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
142ml Single Cream
1 Sheet Ready Rolled Puff Pastry
1 Beaten Egg
1 tsp Sesame Seed
1 tsp Black Onion Seeds
Preheat your oven to 180c and grease a 1.5 litre ovenproof dish.
Melt the butter in a pan, add the finely chopped leek and cook for 5 minute. Add the sliced mushrooms and ginger and cook for a further couple of minutes until the mushrooms are softened.
Stir in the flour and cook for a minute before slowly adding the chicken stock, stirring all the time, until thickened.
Mix through the peas and chopped cooked chicken. Season with salt and pepper and the Chinese five spice. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly and mix in the cream.
Pour the filling into the prepared dish and top with the puff pastry, any extra pastry can be used for decoration.
Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame and black onion seeds.
Cook for 30-40 minutes until the filling is bubbling and pastry is golden.
Lastly somewhat of a novelty item for the year of the Sheep. These have been re-purposed from when they were originally created for Aberdeen FC's 2014 Scottish League Cup win and will no doubt also be putting in an appearance as Easter lambs.
TUNNOCK'S TEACAKE SHEEP
Giant Chocolate Buttons
Royal Icing Sugar or Ready made White Icing or White Chocolate
Melt your chocolate and brush it on to completely cover the teacake. Stick on the mini marshmallows in a single layer all the way round the bottom of the teacake. Continue in layers until the whole teacake is covered. Pop your sheep body in the fridge to set.
Make up icing, melt white chocolate or use ready made icing to draw sheepy faces onto the giant chocolate buttons. I used black nonpareils to give them pupils. Attach the faces to the marshmallowed bodies with either chocolate or icing. Herd them back in the fridge to set.
Enjoy Chinese New Year however you spend it and whatever you eat. Remember that it's traditional to ensure that your house is cleaned from top to bottom before the celebrations start. A thorough cleanse of the house will ensure that all bad luck that has gathered in the previous year is removed. I fear I may have failed on that part. However I did pay a visit to our local Chinese Supermarket last week and came back with loads of goodies, some of which I actually know what they are! Tomorrow may be somewhat of a lucky dip.