The Chinese New Year starts on February 1st, the Year of the Tiger. Here are a couple of fun recipes to try for the festival which lasts until February 15th.
Fortune cookies are synonymous with Chinese food although they originated in Japan as a ‘tea cake’ and are in fact an American adaptation. In baking terms, the recipe makes a folded ‘tuile’ with a paper message or fortune inserted. They aren’t too hard to make but you can have extra fun by writing your own fortunes.
- Parchment paper or a silicone mat
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 tsp orange-blossom water
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 80 g plain flour
- 1.5 tsp cornflour
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 120 g caster sugar
- 3 tsp water
Preheat the oven to 170C
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Make your fortunes either by writing them or on the computer. They should measure about 6cm x 1cm.
Beat the egg whites, orange-blossom water and oils together in a bowl until frothy.
Sift the flour, cornflour, salt and sugar into another bowl. Add the water to this mixture. Then add the egg mixture to the batter, stirring until smooth.
Bake these in 3 batches of 5 or 6 at a time. Place tablespoons of the batter on to the prepared baking sheet. Use the back of a metal spoon to swirl out the mixture into 10cm circles. Leave space between each as they will spread a little during cooking.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until light golden brown, then remove from the oven with a spatula. Place a rolled up fortune in the centre of each one. Do this quickly while the cookie is still soft and pliable. Fold it in half and pinch the edges together to seal. Place the folded edge of the cookie over the rim of a cup and gently pull the 2 corners down to form the classic fortune cookie shape. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
If the cookies have softened by the time you come to serve them, crisp them up in the oven for a few minutes.
Vegetarian Pot Sticker with dipping sauce
These stuffed dumplings seem to exist in some version in almost every cuisine. In Japan they are called Gyoza, in Tibet they are momo, in Turkey 'manti' and in Italy they are ravioli.
Make sure the stuffing isn't too wet, give it a good squeeze before filling the dumplings. Don't overfill, only use a teaspoon in each.
For dipping, you can make a sauce (plum, or chili crisp or Chinese black vinegar with sesame oil) or buy one from an Asian supermarket such as sweet chilli sauce.
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Thumb fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp Chinese five-spice
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 200 g firm tofu, drained
- 4 spring onions, sliced, white and green parts set aside separately
- 250 g shiitake or other mushrooms, finely sliced (If using dry mushrooms, reduce to 80g and soak in hot water for an hour before cooking, then drain, reserving the water for cooking.)
- freshly ground white pepper to taste
- 1 packet of 24 gyoza skins (round) or wonton wrappers (squares, but cut them into rounds for better pleating) (Buy in an asian supermarket)
- rice or plain flour for dusting
- 3 tbsps vegetable or groundnut oil for frying
- Few drops toasted sesame oil for last minute dressing
- Dipping sauce of your choice.
- Green part of the spring onions.
For the filling:
Put the sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, five-spice and cornflour into a hot wok or frying pan and sizzle for a couple of minutes.
Drain and dice the tofu, then add to the wok and fry for 5 minutes.
Add the white part of the spring onions, the mushrooms and fry for 3-5 minutes. They will release a lot of liquid.
Place a sieve over a bowl. Tip all the mixture into the sieve and let the excess liquid drain out. Set aside as you can use this for the cooking.
To construct the dumplings:
Set up a pot sticker stuffing station on a table: a small bowl of water, a stack of gyoza skins, the cooled filling, a teaspoon and a tray sprinkled generously with flour so that they don't stick when you remove them to cook.
Lay out a gyoza skin, dip your finger into the water and run it around the border of the circle. Put a teaspoon of the filling into the middle, then bring up the sides. Traditionally, you work from one side towards the middle, 3 pleats, then the other side, another 3 pleats. Only pleat one side, the other side of the crescent will be flat. Press together to seal into crescent shape dumplings.
Set aside each dumpling on the floury tray until you have shaped them all.
Take a flat non-stick or seasoned cast iron frying pan and heat. Add a little cooking oil. Have a cup of the filling mixture water to hand and a tight-fitting lid or cover for the pan.
Carefully lay the pot stickers in the pan (don't overcrowd)and fry for a couple of minutes until the bottom is a light golden colour.
Then add 50ml of a quarter cup of the liquid to the pan, then replace the lid or cover. Cook for a few minutes until the water has evaporated and bottom is lightly browned. Add a few more drops of oil (toasted sesame is nice) then serve with the green part of the spring onion and a dipping sauce.