Braised E-Fu Noodles (Long Life Noodles) are a delicious addition to your Chinese New Year feast on Jan. 19.

Braised E-Fu Noodles (Long Life Noodles) are a delicious addition to your Chinese New Year feast on Jan. 19.

KItchen Wit & Wisdom: It’s time for double happiness

Chinese New Year — Spring Festival — is a chance to enjoy the tastiest feast and other traditions of China's biggest holiday

Spring Festival, widely known as Chinese New Year in the west, is the most important traditional festival for Chinese families.

This year it falls on Feb. 19 and will be the Year of the Sheep (goat, ram.) I was fortunate enough to be in downtown Vancouver  one Chinese New Year for the parade. The wonder and beauty of the dragons, the dancers and the drumming, which pounded into my soul, and the fireworks was something I’ll never forget.

While gifts, decorations and superstitions are all important aspects of this tradition, nothing takes centre stage quite like the food. From mushrooms, green vegetables, whole fish and chicken, to sweet soups and rice puddings, the traditional dish options are endless!

Today’s recipes come to us with permission from Loblaws. The ingredients for the following recipes and countless more can be found at the Real Canadian Superstore. Give one a try this Thursday. Happy Chinese New Year to all Chinese Canadians celebrating The Year of the Sheep.

Lion’s Head Meatballs

with Shanghai Bok Choy

450 g lean ground pork

100 g ground pork belly

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

2 Tbsp. water

1 cup finely chopped water chestnuts

1/3 cup finely chopped green onion

2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce

1 Tbsp. Chinese Shaoh-Tsing rice wine

1 Tbsp. corn starch

1 tsp. brown sugar

1/4 cup corn starch

2 Tbsp. safflower oil

1 cup chicken broth

1 slice peeled ginger (2” by 1/8” thick)

1 tsp. corn starch

1 lb. Shanghai Bok Choy, each halved lengthwise and rinsed clean

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil

Combine lean ground pork, pork belly and salt. Mix in water until absorbed by pork with hands. Add water chestnuts and green onions and mix well.

Stir together in small bowl soy sauce, wine, 1 Tbsp. corn starch and brown sugar. Mix into meat mixture for 2 minutes until well-absorbed. Form into 8 meatballs, about 91 g each; place on parchment-lined pan, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes up to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Coat meatballs lightly with cornstarch, discarding left-over starch.

Heat oil in wok or large frying pan on medium-high heat. Brown meatballs on all sides in two batches, about 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Transfer to plate. Wipe same wok or pan with paper towel. Add chicken broth and ginger, bring to boil. Return meatballs to hot broth and simmer 2 minutes. Transfer contents of wok to 1 L deep baking dish; cover tightly with foil and bake in centre of of oven 2 hours.

Remove meatballs to bowl to keep warm, cover with foil. Pour broth from baking dish into small saucepan.

Mix remaining 1 tsp. cornstarch with 2 Tbsp. water; whisk into broth and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Cook, whisking until sauce thickens. Meanwhile add sesame oil to large pot of boiling salted water. Blanche bok choy in batches, 30 seconds per batch. Remove with slotted spoon or wire strainer to plate. Serve bok choy with meatball and sauce.

Braised E-Fu Noodles

(Long Life Noodles)

1 cup chicken broth

1 Tbsp. Chinese Shaoh-Tsing rice wine

1 Tbsp. oyster sauce

2 tsp. light soy sauce

2 tsp. dark soy sauce

1 tsp. granulated sugar

1 pkg. 220 g dry E-Fu noodles

2 Tbsp. safflower oil

1 tsp. minced ginger

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. safflower oil

1 tsp. minced ginger

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 cup sliced re-hydrated dried shiitake mushrooms

1-1/4 cup julienned carrots

1-1/4  cup julienned snow peas

1 cup Chinese chives cut into 2” lengths

Stir together chicken broth, wine, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sugar to make sauce; set aside.

Submerge noodles 1 minute in large pot of boiling unsalted water, separating noodles as they soften. Do not over-cook. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain well. Reserve in single layer on baking sheet, set aside.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil on high heat in wok or large frying pan, add 1 tsp. each minced ginger and garlic, cook until fragrant, 10 seconds, add shiitake; cook until mushrooms are lightly browned about 4 to 5 minutes. Push to one side of pan, add noodles, let cook 1 minute. Turn noodles and mushrooms with wide spatula after 1 minute; repeat for 5 minutes or until noodles are lightly fried and hot. Remove to plate.

In same wok or frying pan heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil; stir-fry carrot, snow peas and chives until tender crisp, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to plate with noodles.

Add sauce mixture to same wok or frying pan and bring to boil on high heat. Return noodles and vegetables, mix and cook until sauce is absorbed by noodles, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Lettuce Wraps of Prosperity

1 head of lettuce (rinse and drip dry, cut 1” off head and then into 2 halves vertically for easy peeling)

1 Tbsp. cooking oil

6 button or brown mushrooms, small-diced

1 can water-chestnuts, drained and diced

A pinch of sea salt

2 cups barbecued duck or barbecued pork, diced

2 cups cooked shrimp, diced

½ cup crushed T&T unsalted cashew nuts (or peanuts)

½ cup hoisin sauce

2 Tbsp. T&T or PC Teriyaki sauce

1 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. brown sugar

Peel off lettuce leaves, which should be palm-shaped, and stack them on a plate. Reserve small leaves for future use.

Heat oil in pan on high. Add mushrooms, stir well. Add water chestnuts. Stir and cook for 90 seconds; add salt, mix well and place in a bowl.

Return wok to stove, add duck, stir and reheat on medium high for 20 – 30 seconds, place in a bowl. Reheat shrimp in wok for 20 – 30 seconds, place in a bowl. Place crushed nuts in a bowl.

To make sauce, mix hoisin or teriyaki, water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and empty into a sauce bowl.

Place lettuce and all the bowls of ready-to-eat ingredients on the table for individuals to fill their own lettuce wraps. Enjoy with sauce.

This appetizer was created by Vancouver food writer Stephanie Yuen especially for Chinese New Year; it takes 20 minutes to prep,10 minutes to cook and serves 6-8.


Vernon Morning Star