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Where does the time go? Seems like just yesterday it was 4704! February 18 marks the start of the 15-day Chinese New Year festival, ushering in lunar year 4705, the Year of the Boar.

It's a perfect opportunity to shake off the winter blues and enjoy the fun and flavors of Chinese cooking. Why not invite friends and family over for a big New Year's feast? And what better way to kick it off than by serving up some crowd-pleasing pork dishes. Choose one of these--Braised Black Bean Pork, Hoisin Glazed Pork or succulent Year-of-the-Boar Ribs. Round out the menu with Crispy Bags of Gold appetizers and a refreshingly light and silky Almond Gel for dessert.

The secret's in the sauces

Preparing great tasting Chinese dishes is easier than you might think. The trick is to let high-quality prepared sauces do most of the heavy lifting for you--products like Kikkoman's Black Bean Sauce with Garlic, Hoisin Sauce, Stir-Fry Sauce, Sweet & Sour Sauce, Plum Sauce and Thai Style Chili Sauce. Made with premium ingredients and perfectly balanced for authentic flavor, these sauces can hold their own as the starring flavor ingredient in easy Chinese dishes perfect for New Year's or any time of year.

Create a mood to match the food

Red and gold, symbolizing long life and prosperity, are the traditional colors for Chinese New Year. Set the table and buffet with red tablecloths, or white linens with red runners. Add red and gold accents, such as gold confetti, gold-coin candies, candles and flowers.

Ready to put more fun in your February? A little imagination, a few good recipes and some premium sauces are all it takes to create a Chinese New Year celebration that's anything but "boar-ing." Gung Hay Fat Choy! Here's to a year of good fortune, good eating and good times shared with friends and family.

For more Chinese New Year entertaining tips and recipes, download Kikkoman's official Chinese New Year Celebration Guide at kikkoman-usa.com.


Year-of-the-Boar Ribs

2 1/2 pounds pork baby back ribs
Salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can (20 oz) lychee in syrup
1 bottle (11.5 oz) Kikkoman Sweet & Sour Sauce
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 red bell pepper, chunked
1 green bell pepper, chunked
1 small onion, chunked

Cut ribs into one-rib pieces; lightly salt all sides. Brown ribs and ginger together in hot oil in Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Drain lychee; reserve 1/4 cup syrup and stir into pan with sweet & sour sauce and sugar. Turn ribs over to coat with sauce. Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add bell peppers and onion; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in lychee; heat through. Makes 4 servings.


Almond Gel

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
3 cups Pearl Unsweetened Organic Soymilk
2/3 cup sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons almond extract
1 can (15 oz) fruit cocktail in syrup

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water in small bowl; let stand 10 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, combine soymilk and sugar in saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until hot and steaming; do not boil. Remove from heat; blend in gelatin and extract. Cool slightly and pour into 8-inch square glass baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight until firm. To serve, cut gel into 1-inch cubes; place in individual bowls and top with fruit cocktail and syrup. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Crispy Bags of Gold

3/4 pound ground pork
1/4 cup Kikkoman Stir-Fry Sauce
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup minced green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package (12 oz) refrigerated round wrappers for potstickers and dumplings
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
1/2 cup Kikkoman Plum Sauce
2 tablespoons Kikkoman Sweet & Sour Sauce
1/2 cup Kikkoman Thai Style Chili Sauce

Thoroughly mix pork, stir-fry sauce, carrot, green onions and salt in medium bowl with fork. Working with about 6 wrappers at a time, moisten edges of each circle with water. Place 1 teaspoon pork filling in center of each circle. Pull edges up together, pinching to enclose; tap bottom gently to flatten to resemble drawstring purse. Place on large baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap while filling remaining wrappers. Heat oil in wok or large saucepan over medium-high heat to 380 F. Deep-fry filled wrappers, about 5 to 6 pieces at a time, until brown and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels; keep warm. Combine plum sauce and sweet & sour sauce. Serve "bags" with plum sauce mixture and Thai style chili sauce. Makes 60 appetizers.


Hoisin Glazed Pork

1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup Kikkoman Hoisin Sauce, divided
1/4 cup plus 1/4 teaspoon Kikkoman Soy Sauce, divided
2 pork tenderloins, each about 1 pound
1 tablespoon apple juice

Combine 1/2 cup hoisin sauce and 1/4 cup soy sauce; pour over pork in large plastic food storage bag. Press air out of bag; close top securely. Let stand 30 minutes. Place pork on rack of broiler pan. Bake in 375 F oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers 155 F. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Cut across grain into thin slices; place on platter. Meanwhile, blend 1/3 cup hoisin sauce, apple juice and 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce. Just before serving, drizzle sauce over pork slices. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Braised Black Bean Pork
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Kikkoman Black Bean Sauce with Garlic, divided
3 tablespoons Kikkoman Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 pound lotus root or 12 canned baby corn ears
1 pound carrots
3/4 pound turnips
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths, separating tops from whites
Hot cooked rice

Cut pork into 1-inch cubes; coat lightly with cornstarch. Heat oil in Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat; add pork and brown on all sides. Stir in 1-1/3 cups water, 1/4 cup black bean sauce, soy sauce and sherry; bring to boil. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Meanwhile, peel lotus root, carrots and turnips; cut into 1-inch chunks. Add lotus root to pork mixture; simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Stir in carrots and turnips; cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in

2 tablespoons black bean sauce, white parts of green onions and corn (if using); simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Add green onion tops; cover and simmer 1 minute longer. Serve over rice. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


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