Chinese new year

February 09, 1999

Chinese New Yearmaterials courtesy of Kikkoman International Inc.

The dishes on the menu employ a variety of cooking methods so you can produce seven dishes to serve at once. The trick: Three of the dishes can be made ahead, one roasts unattended in the oven and the rice steams on the stovetop, leaving just the side dish for a last-minute stir-frying before you sit down to enjoy a multicourse feast with your guests. For a simpler dinner, just make two or three of the dishes, instead of the entire menu.

All of the spices and seasonings used in this menu should be available in your supermarket. If your spices are more than a year old, consider buying new ones to ensure optimal flavor.

[cont. from lifestyle]

Some of the dishes are seasoned with soy sauce. When selecting a soy sauce, look for the words "naturally brewed" on the label and check the ingredient list for water, wheat, soybeans and salt in that order. Light soy sauces also can be naturally brewed, but salt is removed after fermentation, making it a lower sodium alternative.


Set the Mood

When you set the table, have chopsticks for each guest and use a lot of red, a celebratory Chinese color, in the table settings.

Since it's the Year of the Rabbit, porcelain bunnies or other decorative rabbit accessories could be incorporated in your decor. Narcissus, peonies, plum blossoms and azaleas are traditional flowers of the Chinese New Year.

Do as the Chinese do and set out trays of candy for guests to help themselves. Also, arrange mounds of oranges and tangerines in pretty bowls.

Not authentic, but fun anyway, is to string up paper lanterns in your dining room or hang a paper dragon kite from the ceiling to create a party atmosphere.

Spicy Beijing Pecans

  • 3/4 pound pecan halves
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons naturally brewed soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

Bring 1-1/2 quarts water to boil in large saucepan. Add pecans and boil 2 minutes; drain thoroughly. Meanwhile, spray large, shallow baking pan with cooking spray; set aside. Combine corn syrup, soy sauce, onion and garlic powders and red pepper in same saucepan. Cook, over medium-high heat, until mixture begins to boil, stirring constantly. Stir in pecans and cook, stirring, 3 to 4 minutes, or until sauce is absorbed by nuts. Turn pecans out onto prepared baking pan, spreading to separate pecans in a single layer. Bake in 250-degree oven 40 minutes, stirring and turning nuts over every 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven; stir pecans to spread in single layer. Cool completely, in pan, on wire rack. Store in tightly covered container.

Makes 3 cups.

Note: If nuts become soft, bake in single layer in 250-degree oven 5 minutes. Cool completely, in pan, on wire rack.


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