Yet another Valentine's Day where I celebrate solo. Instead of being bummed about not having a boy toy, I'm doing what I do best: hosting a dinner party! Luckily, Chinese New Year happens to fall on Valentine's Day, so I'm inviting a select group of single friends to join me for a Chinese-inspired feast. The menu starts with shiitake and scallion lo mein and pork and chive dumplings. Noodles are a staple at Lunar New Year because they symbolize longevity. The main course consists of spicy Sichuan peppercorn shrimp, stir-fried Chinese greens, and steamed white rice. To enjoy these festive and delicious recipes with your loved ones,
1 pound wide lo mein noodles
1/4 pound snow peas, halved diagonally
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
6 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the noodles until tender; add the snow peas to the noodles in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain the noodles and snow peas and rinse under cold water until cool.
- In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce with the mirin and sesame oil.
- In a very large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil until shimmering. Add the shiitake and cook over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil, the scallions and ginger and stir-fry until the scallions soften, about 3 minutes. Add the water and cook over moderate heat, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, 1 minute. Add the noodles, snow peas and soy sauce mixture to the skillet and cook, tossing the noodles until heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Add the cilantro, transfer to banana leaf cones or bowls and serve.
- Other, Appetizers
For dipping sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1/2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/8 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 garlic clove, smashed
3 (2-inch) dried red chiles, wiped clean
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound fatty ground pork
1/2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon Vietnamese chile-garlic sauce (preferably Huy Fong brand)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar (not seasoned)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of white pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems
3 tablespoons finely chopped flowering chives, flat Chinese chives (garlic chives), or scallions
24 to 30 round dumpling wrappers (preferably with egg)
- Make sauce: Stir together all ingredients and let stand at room temperature at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
- Make dumplings: Combine all ingredients (except cilantro stems, chives, and wrappers) in a large bowl, then stir in cilantro stems and chives. Set bowl in a larger bowl of ice to keep chilled while forming dumplings.
- Place a slightly rounded teaspoon of filling in center of a wrapper and moisten area around filling with water. Fold in half to form a crescent and press to seal. Moisten one corner and bring corners together, pressing them, to form a tortellini-shaped dumpling. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.
- Cook dumplings in a large pot of gently simmering water until pork is just cooked, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a platter.
Makes 8 servings.
Make ahead: Dumplings can be formed (but not cooked) 2 hours ahead and chilled; or 1 month ahead and frozen on a tray, then transferred to a freezer bag. Cook frozen dumplings in 3 or 4 batches, 7 to 8 minutes per batch.
- Appetizers, Finger Foods
1 1/2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
1 pound large shrimp—shelled, deveined and butterflied
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 scallions—2 coarsely chopped, 1 thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
1 dried pasilla or small ancho chile, seeded and very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Chile-sesame oil, for drizzling
- In a small skillet, toast the peppercorns over moderate heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds; let cool. Transfer the peppercorns to a mortar or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Put the shrimp in a bowl, toss with 1 teaspoon of the ground peppercorns and season with salt.
- In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Add the shrimp and stir-fry over moderate heat until almost cooked through, 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the skillet. Add the chopped scallions, garlic, jalapeños and chile and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the scallions and garlic are softened, 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of ground peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Add the shrimp and lime juice and stir until the shrimp are just cooked through, 1 minute. Season with salt and transfer to a bowl. Garnish with the sliced scallion, drizzle with the chile oil and serve.
- Main Dishes, Shellfish
11 - 14 ounces mixed Chinese greens--bok choy, Chinese broccoli (gai larn), baby spinach
3 tablespoons walnut oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon thinly sliced ginger
4 scallions, finely shredded
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 pinches of sugar
juice of 1 lime
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Remove any blemished outside stalks from the greens. Put the spinach to one side so that you can add it to the wok or pan at the last minute, as it cooks very quickly. Prepare the rest of the Chinese greens; cut the Chinese broccoli into strips and the bok choy into quarters. Plunge the greens into boiling water for about 1 1/2 minutes until just tender, and drain well.
- Put the oil and the ginger into a very large, hot wok or other suitable pan and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the scallions and the rest of the ingredients apart from the seasoning. Stir, then add the spinach and toss so that everything is coated in sauce. The vegetables will sizzle and stir-fry. The oyster and soy sauce will reduce, just coating the greens. At this point season to taste. Stir-fry for a further minute and serve immediately.
- Side Dishes, Greens