Thu11202014

Food & Wine

Ring in the rooster: Chinese dishes served for good fortune in the new year

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Feb. 9 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year 4703 - or the Year of the Rooster - and 12 days of celebration centered on family and the eating of symbolic food. The Chinese follow a lunar calendar. Each year is named after one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. The New Year starts with the new moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later on what the Chinese call Lantern Day.

Food plays such an important part of the celebration some say the Chinese consume more food during the New Year than any other time of the year.

Every dish in the Chinese culture has special significance. The more items served, the more blessings one is believed to receive.

The following small plate menu offers something for everyone:

Mandarin Pork Back Ribs

Makes 8 appetizer servings

Ingredients:

3/4 cup orange marmalade, divided

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided

2 tablespoons dry sherry

4 cloves garlic, pressed

3 pounds pork loin back ribs, cut into

1-rib pieces

Combine 1/2 cup each orange marmalade and soy sauce, sherry and garlic; pour over ribs in large plastic food storage bag. Press air out of bag; close top securely. Turn bag over several times to coat ribs well. Refrigerate 1 hour, turning bag over once.

Arrange ribs, meaty side down, in large, shallow foil-lined baking pan; discard marinade. Cover pan with foil and bake at

350 F for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 F. Discard foil cover from pan. Drain off excess fat; turn ribs over.

Combine remaining 1/4 cup orange marmalade and 2 tablespoons soy sauce; brush ribs with half of mixture. Return ribs to oven and bake 10 minutes. Brush ribs with remaining mixture; bake 5 minutes longer.

Full Moon Pastries

Makes 16 pastries

Ingredients:

1/2 pound ground pork

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon five-spice powder

1/4 cup Kikkoman Stir-Fry Sauce

1/3 cup chopped green onions and tops

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Cook pork in hot oil in large skillet over medium-high heat 1 minute. Sprinkle flour and five-spice over pork; cook and stir 1 minute, or until pork is just done. Stir in stir-fry sauce.

Remove from heat and cool; stir in green onions. On lightly floured surface, roll each pastry sheet into 12-inch square. Using 3-inch cookie cutter, cut each sheet into 16 circles. Brush circles with egg mixture; spoon 1 tablespoon pork mixture evenly onto 16 circles. Cover filling with remaining circles, pinching edges together to seal. Cut 2 small slits in center of each.* Place pastries 2 inches apart on two greased baking sheets. Brush tops with egg mixture. Bake in 400 F oven 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

*Pastries can be made and frozen up to 2 weeks. Thaw pastries for 30 minutes; prepare as directed.

Firecracker Prawns

Makes 8 appetizer servings

Ingredients:

1/4 cup teriyaki marinade

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided

1/4 cup water

1 red jalapeño pepper

1-1/2 pounds (16 to 20 count) extra-large fresh or thawed prawns, peeled and deveined

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 green onions and tops, sliced

Combine first 3 ingredients with 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 1/4 cup water.

Cut jalapeño lengthwise in half; discard half of seeds.

Chop jalapeño with remaining seeds and combine with shrimp, garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch.

Stir-fry shrimp in hot oil in wok or large skillet over high heat 2 minutes; remove. Stir teriyaki sauce mixture and pour into same pan.

Cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens.

Stir in shrimp and green onions and cook just to coat with sauce.

Golden Phoenix Nests

Makes 8 salad cups

Ingredients:

1 cup diced, cooked chicken breast

3/4 cup diced Fuji apple

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup thinly sliced deli ham, cut into 1/2-inch squares

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Tangy Honey Dressing (recipe below)

8 iceberg lettuce leaves, cut into 5-inch circles

Combine chicken, apple, celery, ham and almonds in bowl. Prepare dressing; pour over salad and toss to coat all pieces.

Fill lettuce leaves with about 1/3 cup chicken mixture and arrange salad cups on serving platter.

Tangy Honey Dressing: Blend 1/3 cup sweet & sour sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon honey.

Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon thinly slivered fresh ginger root, 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon Oriental sesame oil. Serve heated frozen potstickers and egg rolls with sauce. Makes 1/3 cup sauce

Empress Pink Pear

Lanterns

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

8 firm, ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears

3 cups white zinfandel wine

1/2 cup sugar

4 slices fresh ginger root, each about 1/4 inch thick

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup orange juice

1 carton (8 oz.) crème fraîche

Leaving stems attached, core and peel pears. Cut thin slice off bottom of each pear. Combine wine, sugar, ginger and cinnamon in Dutch oven or large saucepan; bring to boil. Add pears. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 to 25 minutes, or until pears are tender when tested with toothpick, turning pears over occasionally. Remove pears; cover and chill.

Meanwhile, add orange juice to saucepan; bring to boil. Cook until sauce is reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard spices. Pour sauce into bowl; cover and chill. Cut pears in half crosswise. Remove top halves and fill centers with crème fraîche, spreading to edges; replace tops. To serve, spread 2 tablespoons wine sauce onto dessert plates; place pears on sauce.

Setting the Scene

Set tables with red and gold linens for fortuity and success.

Decorate with paper lanterns; use fresh flowers and bamboo to signify rebirth and growth. Place dishes strategically around the room to encourage mingling.

Greet guests with "Gung Hay Fat Choy," which means "Wishing you happiness and prosperity!"

Present guests with tangerines, leaves attached, for luck and abundant joy.

-Courtesy of Family Features and Kikkoman.

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