The Chinese New Year is on January 31, 2014. I was planning a grand party to celebrate – complete with a parade-worthy dragon flecked with gold sparkling fabric, red envelopes filled with gift cards, lanterns and firecrackers.
Notice the word ‘planning.’ In reality, my Chinese New Year celebration will probably be a less glamorous, scaled down affair with only a few good friends. Life has gotten busier than I thought it would these past few weeks!
The good news is that I have been experimenting with a lot of Chinese inspired recipes. With my limited exposure to Chinese cuisine, I cannot begin to cover the diverse history and regional dishes of China, but I can borrow some simple cooking techniques. My favorite Chinese cookbook is Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong. It is approachable enough that you can flip to any page and cook the recipe with relative ease. It is still complex and rich enough that there are details on equipment for the Chinese kitchen and “Eating Chinese-style.”
The below recipe is from the book , modified only slightly. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did. We will be making it again this weekend.
Sung Choi Bao of Pork (Lettuce Wraps)
4-6 small iceberg lettuce leaves
1 small carrot, finely diced
2 T. canola oil
1 T. ginger, julienned
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 lb. + ground pork
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
4 fresh shitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced
2 T dry sherry
1 T low sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp. white sugar
1 tsp. oyster sauce
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1 can water chestnuts, roughly chopped
3/4 c. fresh bean sprouts
3 green onions, thinly sliced into rounds
2 T. cilantro, roughly chopped
extra soy sauce, for serving
Soak lettuce leaves in cold water for 30 mins. Drain well. Set aside, covered in refrigerator.
Whisk together dry sherry, soy sauce, sugar, oyster sauce and sesame oil in a small bow. Set aside.
Heat a large wok or rounded-bottom frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 T Canola oil and swirl in wok until hot. Add pork and stir-fry, breaking up into little bits with wooden spoon, 2-3 minutes. Add ginger and garlic. Stir-fry 30 seconds more. Add onions and mushrooms and continue stir-frying for 3-4 minutes more, until pork is cooked through. Pour in soy sauce blend. Stir-fry 2 minutes. Add carrot, water chestnuts, bean sprouts and green onions. Stir until heated and combined with pork and other vegetables. Remove from heat.
Transfer to a medium-sized serving bowl. Place on a platter with lettuce leaves, cilantro and soy sauce.
Optional: Buy some plum sauce or hoisin to serve on the side if you want. I happen to like the soy sauce just fine!