Tuesday, February 7, 2012

VH Chinese New Year Blog Tour - Recipes and Giveaway!

I like to keep a cooking mindset that food should not be boring.  We love to try food from other cultures and 'theme it up' once in a while for different celebrations; pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, Roast Lamb for Easter and most recently, a Chinese Feast for Chinese New Year!
When we were living in Toronto, we were most fortunate to have become friends with a pair of sisters who were originally from Hong Kong.  One of our most treasured memories was being their guests at an authentic Hong Kong Chinese Dim Sum.  We were the only table in the room with non-Chinese guests at it.  Our hosts ordered for us as the menu was only in Chinese.  The food was fantastic and I've had a longing to recreate those dishes now that we live elsewhere.
(our family at Dim Sum in Toronto last summer)

While I've never been able to recreate those recipes (yet) - we still do enjoy creating our our Canadian Chinese food at home.  That is why I was so happy to be asked to join the VH Chinese New Year Blog Tour.  What better way to celebrate the Year of the Dragon than to have a family feast?  
Whenever dining Chinese it always strikes me how family and friend oriented the meal is.  At a Dim Sum restaurant, the tables are usually round so there is no head.  Dishes are served in large portions so to be shared with the entire table.  We all partake in the meal together.  Chinese tea is often featured, traditionally, you do not pour your own tea, someone else at the table serves you, just as you would serve them.  It is a great reminder of friendship, family and community.

At home, we try to remember this act of family dining by creating many large dishes to share.  Having small children (ages 7, 4 and 2), we also try to find food that will please their choosy palates, while still satisfying our own need for unique and tasty dishes.  The menu we came up with for this Chinese New Year was greatly assisted by the sauces to try out from VH.  We feasted on: Sweet and Sour Shrimp, Pineapple Chicken, Mushroom Chow Mein, Beef & Broccoli and Steamed Rice.

The Giveaway!
Thanks to the generosity of VH and Mom Central Canada you, I invite you to join in on the fun of having your own Chinese New Year Celebration!  Leave a comment below telling your favorite Chinese Dish and you will be entered to win a Chinese New Year Gift Pack valued at $60! Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only.  One name will be drawn at random at the end of the day, February 10th.  Please include your name and contact info (email address) in your comment so I can reach you should you win.  Readers may enter this giveaway on multiple blogs, but may only win one prize.  Prizes will be sent out from Mom Central Canada on behalf of Crafty Kris.

The Recipes!

Mushroom Chow Mein

drizzle of canola oil - heat in large frying pan or wok - add:
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
cook over medium heat until heated through and just beginning to soften - add:
a couple of Tbsp of VH Hoisin Sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp chicken stock powder
1/4 C water
stir it all in together and turn heat up to medium high to get everything really hot! - add:
 4 oz chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup sugar snap peas
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 can bamboo shoots, drained
a generous drizzling of soya sauce
1 cup bean sprouts
2 cups of chow mein noodles, uncooked
mix it all together, add a bit more water to get some steam going in the wok (1/2 cup).  Cover and allow noodles to steam cook.  This cooks fast so check often and keep stirring to prevent sticking.  Top with green onion slices for garnish when serving.
 *on a happy eating side note - my picky eating boys both ate the noodles (and unknowingly the bean sprouts) from this dish as well as tried the bamboo and water chestnuts and thought it was pretty good!

Pineapple Chicken
By far the easiest of the dishes I made!

drizzle of canola oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp flour
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 jar VH pineapple chicken sauce
1/2 can pineapple tidbits

Heat oil in medium cooking pot - medium heat.  Toss the chicken pieces with the flour to coat the chicken.  Put coated chicken and red peppper in the cooking pot, stir frequently.  Add the jar of sauce.  Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce starts to bubble.  Add the pineapple.  Continue to cook until the pineapple is heated.
*my kids loved this dish 

Sweet and Sour Shrimp

My husband's contribution to our feast.  He used a Buttermilk Batter recipe from Food.com (originally intended for onion rings).  

16 shrimp (tails on) - he let the shrimp marinate a little bit in a mix of a little bit of Thai Fish Sauce with a pinch of salt before battering
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
canola oil
VH Sweet and Sour Sauce - to serve over the shrimp once cooked.

Whisk together the flour, buttermilk, sugar, baking powder and salt until smooth.  Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a dutch oven.  Heat to 375*.  Dip shrimp in batter, coating well.  Fry a few shrimp at a time until golden.  Drain - (my husband uses a 2 step draining process, first in a metal strainer, then onto paper towels.)  Repeat with remaining shrimp.  *We had enough batter to fry up some onion rings as well, which isn't very Chinese Food-ish, but still delicious with the sweet and sour sauce.
Seriously yummy!  The Sweet and Sour is our favorite VH Sauce to use!

Beef & Broccoli
This recipe comes from Stephen Yan's Cookbook on Chinese Cooking from the late 70's or early 80's.  He was the charismatic host of Wok With Yan - a Canadian Chinese cooking program that ran for 15 years or more.  This recipe is simple and very tasty.  
1 pound of fresh broccoli, sliced into bite sized pieces
1/2 pound beef flank steak, sliced thinly across the grain
1 tbsp light soy sauce
dash of pepper
1 tbsp tapioca starch or cornstarch
a few drops of sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 tbsp sesame or peanut oil

Marinate the beef with light soy sauce, pepper, few drops sesame oil and starch for 15 minutes.  In a wok or skillet, help up 2 tbsp of oil until smoke begins to rise.  Put in broccoli, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 cup of water.  Mix and cover with lid.  Cook with high heat for 4 minutes, until steam escapes from the edge of the lid.  Remove to a plate.  Use high heat and 2 tbsp of oil; when hot, brown garlic for a minute.  Then add beef, stir fry until the color of the meat changes.  Return broccoli and mix.  Serve hot.
A sprinkle of sesame seeds on top makes a nice garnish!

*This was the first time we used our new rice cooker and I'm in love with it - super easy and perfect rice!  I highly recommend you get one too.

Still in the mood for Chinese, but not so much up to cooking tonight?  Look out for VH Steamers in the freezer section of your local grocery store. 

Disclosure – I am participating in the VH Chinese New Year Celebration program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of VH.  I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.


Michelle B said...

My favorite Chinese Dish is chicken curry with rice

Glogirl said...

I love chicken stir-frys made with VH Sweet & Sour sauce!