Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Year of the Rabbit

The Year of the Rabbit officially began on 3 February, so Jonathan's friend Eric, here visiting from China, said he would cook dinner.  We already had two kinds of soy sauce and some of the other things he needed, including a wok. But he did all the main shopping himself at the local supermarket, except for the frozen dumplings - they came from Yan's in Hopper Street.

I was terrifically impressed by the calm, ordered way he went about getting everything ready in a foreign kitchen - much less drama and panic than would be usual for me when cooking four different dishes, plus of course rice, which he prefers to be stickier than the separate grains I'm used to producing.

Jonathan and I set the table nicely with the appropriate red cloth, chopsticks (and knives and forks), and my flowery Chinese teacups.

Everything was delicious - quite delicate, subtle flavours all going very well together. First we had the jiaozi, dumplings, filled with meat and vegetables. They're seen as lucky because they look like ancient Chinese money, dumpling-shaped silver and gold ingots called yuan bao. They symbolize wealth and hopes for a profitable future.

Jonathan loves salad, and recently was very happy to find that Northern Chinese have very good salads, so we had one of those. It's made of cooked rice noodles (the very thin stiff white ones you buy in a bundle), finely chopped cucumber, red pepper and coriander, plus pieces of cooked omelette, dressed with a mixture of garlic, oil, vinegar and salt.

The secret is to cook the noodles ahead of time, mix them with the veges and dressing and leave them to stand in the fridge for at least two hours, before mixing in the omelette and serving.

For the main dish omelette, Eric cut up mixed seafood and stirred it into seasoned beaten eggs, adding chopped onion and tomato on top while it was cooking. This is a beautifully light dish which would make me a lovely supper on its own.

Eric comes from the Hubei area, and fish was a feature of the food he had as a child. But no Chinese New Year dinner would be complete without meat, so he adapted a local dish of gently spiced meat and carrots by using lamb instead of beef, and adding potatoes. He had a few mussels from his seafood mix, so they went in too. It all worked very well.

We drank sparkling sauvignon blanc, and the lovely delicate green tea Eric brought me from China, and watched astonishing acrobats performing in the famous New Year Gala showing on the locally available Chinese TV channel,  and generally felt we'd seen in the Year of the Rabbit in splendid style.


Alexia said...

It all sounds delicious. I'm going to try that salad!

mel said...

Happy Chinese New Year, Anne ;-)

Mary McCallum said...

llucky you! what a feast

Karen said...

What a lovely feast. And lovely to share with friends

Happy Chinese New Year to you :-)

Sasa said...

I'm like you - I get all panicky when I have to cook in someone else's kitchen...looks wonderful ^_^

Plain Jane said...

Just got in late from an enjoyable tango lesson and am starving. Looking at these pictures was torment. Does Eric home deliver?