Year of the Dragon – The Feast

Earlier I posted about the outfit I wore for Lunar New Year’s Eve, but I’m just now getting to the real New Year’s Eve story: the feast.

My husband and I joined several of our friends at his parents’ place for an absolutely amazing 12-course, all-day feast.

We started out with 4 courses of appetizers:

  • Gow Choi Gau Zi (shrimp and chives dumplings)
  • Lo bak go (daikon cake)
  • Trio appetizer platter: 5-spice beef, jellyfish, BBQ pork
  • Minced chicken in lettuce wrap
Clockwise from upper left: gow choi gau, lo bak go, trio appetizer platter, and minced chicken with lettuce wraps

Clockwise from upper left: gow choi gau, lo bak go, trio appetizer platter, and minced chicken with lettuce wraps

Then moved on to the main courses:

  • Dried scallop soup with chives and crab meat
  • Sautéed prawns and scallops in XO sauce
  • Beef and broccoli florets in oyster sauce
  • Stir-fried crab with green onions & ginger
  • Steamed whole fish
  • Pea sprouts in garlic sauce
This picture is just dying for a funny caption - any suggestions?

Clockwise from upper left: dried scallop soup with chives and crab meat, sautéed prawn and scallops in XO sauce, beef and broccoli florets in oyster sauce, and roasted crab with green onions & ginger

And finished up with 2 courses for dessert:

  • Don tats
  • Fortune cookies and orange slices
Fortune cookies and orange slices

Fortune cookies and orange slices

Keep reading for the recipes!

Gow choi gau, getting steamed

Gow choi gau, getting steamed

Gow Choi Gau Zi
recipe adapted from Flavor Explosions

Crystal Dough:
2 1/4 c wheat starch, plus extra for dusting the rolling-pin and board
3 tbsp tapioca starch
1 1/2 c boiling water
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable shortening
Filling:
12 oz raw shrimp, shelled and deveined (size 31/40 shrimp)
4 oz garlic chives, blanched, minced to make 1 cup
1/4 cup (2 oz) canned bamboo shoots, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
6 tbsp cilantro, minced
1 tbsp slivered spring ginger
dash white pepper
dash 5 spice salt
Seasoning:
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine or pale dry sherry
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
Dipping Sauces:
Sriracha
Soy sauce mixed with some rice wine vinegar

To prepare the crystal dough:
Combine the wheat starch and the tapioca starch. Form a well in the center. Gradually add the boiling water (must be *boiling*, as the starch needs to be cooked to turn it into the gooey mixture that forms the binding for the dough.), stirring until a ball forms.
Cool slightly. While still warm, stir in the shortening, a little at a time. Transfer to a lightly floured board and knead for a few minutes until soft and smooth.
Divide the dough into 4 balls. Cover dough with a damp tea cloth for 15 minutes.
To prepare the filling:
Chop/mince the shrimp with a cleaver on a cutting board until it becomes a rough paste. Place in a large bowl.
Cut the garlic chives into 4 inch pieces, blanched in a pot of hot water (20 seconds). Remove and squeeze dry between two plates. Chop the blanched chives finely. Finely chop the bamboo shoots and cilantro. Add to the shrimp.
Mix all the seasoning ingredients together. Mix well into the shrimp and chives mixture.
To make the dumplings:
Take a dough portion, work into a round ball, and flatten into a disc. Dust the rolling-pin and board with wheat starch. Roll out dough until the dough is uniformly 1/8 inch thick. Use a round 3 1/2 inch cookie cutter and stamp out round pastry skins. You should have about 40 skins. Cover dough with a damp tea cloth as you work.
Brush the edges of the pastry with a little water. Place the pastry skin in your palm. Place 1 tsp of filling into dough, being careful to avoid the edges. Fold sides over into a little ball and press the layers together to seal. Press down into a puck-like shape. Make sure seams are well-sealed and place on a tray dusted with tapioca starch.
Placed each dumpling onto a square of parchment paper and put into a steamer.
Steam over simmering water for 6-8 minutes or until the dumplings are translucent. Add water if necessary so that the pot doesn’t dry out.
Pan fry in peanut oil mixed with some sesame oil to brown on both top and bottom.
Serve immediately, with sriracha and soy sauce mixed with rice wine vinegar.

Lo bak go

Lo bak go

Lo Bak Go
recipe adapted from VVian Wai

2 1/4 lbs daikon
2 1/2 oz finest rice flour (add extra if needed)
3/4 oz dried shrimp
2 1/2 oz corn starch
1 1/2 Chinese sausages (Dollar Food Brand)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
dash of white pepper
approx. 1 bowl chicken broth added to juice from strained daikon

Soak dried shrimp so it’s soft enough to cut up (about 1/2 hour).
Shred daikon and let sit in a strainer while you work on the subsequent steps. Reserve the juices and mix with chicken broth.
Remove any thick casings from the sausages and chop into small pieces (about 1/4″).
Dice the shrimp.
Cook sausage medium-low heat until fragrant; add shrimp and remove from pan.
Cook daikon in the same pan used to cook the sausage until slightly transparent. Add seasonings and meats.
Pour daikon juice & chicken broth into a large bowl with the corn starch and rice flour. Mix until smooth. The texture should be like a sticky slurry.
Put the pan with the daikon mixture back on medium-low heat. Slowly, pour in the corn starch, rice flour, and juice/broth mixture, stirring constantly to make sure it’s mixed well and the bottom doesn’t clump up.
When all mixed, pour into square cake tins and let sit at least 1/2 hr to settle and dry a bit.
Put the tins in large bamboo steamers and steam for about 1 1/4 hours (it will look wet, but it dries & solidifies after cooling).
Let sit until cool. Use a plastic spatula to flip it out of the tins, then cut into rectangles.
Pan fry in peanut oil mixed with a little sesame oil to brown on both top and bottom.
Serve immediately, with sriracha sauce.

Trio appetizer platter with 5-spice beef, jellyfish, & BBQ pork

Trio appetizer platter with 5-spice beef, jellyfish, & BBQ pork

Trio Appetizer Platter with 5-Spice Beef, Jellyfish, & BBQ Pork
The goal of this platter was to present a dish that covers components from hot/warm (BBQ pork), room temperature (5-spice beef), and cold (jellyfish). The 5-spice beef was purchased from Dragon 2000 in Walnut Creek and the jellyfish was purchased from New Gold Medal Restaurant in Oakland’s Chinatown.

Minced chicken in lettuce wrap

Minced chicken in lettuce wrap

Minced Chicken in Lettuce Wrap

8 oz chicken, ground or cut into thin strips
2 oz black fungus (wood ear) cut into strips
2 oz cucumber, diced
2 oz carrots, diced
2 tbsp cooking oil
Green onions, slivered
12 lettuce leaves
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil

Heat pan, add cooking oil and chicken, and cook until half done. Add cucumber, carrots, and hoisin sauce. Stir-fry evenly. Add Sesame oil. To serve, wrap mixture in lettuce leaves. Serve additional hoisin sauce and slivered green onions on the side.

Dried scallop soup with chives and crab meat

Dried scallop soup with chives and crab meat

Dried Scallop Soup with Chives and Crab Meat

2-3 oz dried scallops
a bunch of yellow chives, cut into 2″ strips
a bunch of enoki mushrooms
2-3 Chinese black mushrooms, re-hydrated and cut into strips
Crab meat
Chicken broth (best if made from scratch)
Corn starch mixed with water

A day before dinner, soak the dried mushrooms and scallops in hot water to re-hydrate. Reserve the liquid. Shred scallops when softened. Repeat a few times until scallops are shredded to desired fineness. Refrigerate for later use.
Bring the chicken broth to a boil, add dried scallop with reserved liquid, black mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, yellow chives, and crab meat. Bring back to boil, and add 5-spice salt to taste. Thicken with corn starch/water mixture. Serve immediately.
You can prepare everything ahead of time, and heat the soup a few minutes before serving.

Sauteed prawns and scallops in XO sauce

Sautéed prawns and scallops in XO sauce

Sautéed Prawns and Scallops in XO Sauce

1/2 lb pawns, peeled and de-veined
1/2 lb med scallops
1/2 lb snow peas (blanched)
2 oz bamboo shoots, cut into strips
2 oz carrots, cut into strips
3 tbsp XO sauce
3 tbsp cooking oil

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp cooking oil and add the bamboo shoots and carrots. Stir to heat through. Add snow peas. Remove from pan. Add the remaining cooking oil at med heat, then add the prawns and scallops and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the XO sauce, return cooked vegetables to pan, and stir well. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Beef and broccoli florets in oyster sauce

Beef and broccoli florets in oyster sauce

Beef and Broccoli Florets in Oyster Sauce

1/2 lb flank steak, cut into super thin strips
1/2 lb broccoli florets (blanched)
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
3 tbsp Oyster sauce
3 tbsp cooking oil
Corn starch mixed with water

Toss the beef with soy sauce, corn starch/water mix, and sesame oil. Set aside to marinade for 15 minutes. Arrange broccoli florets in oval or round plate. Heat cooking oil at medium-high heat in a pan. Add beef and stir until almost done (you can cook this ahead of time and set aside the beef until ready to finish cooking and serve). Add oyster sauce, heat through, and add to plated broccoli florets. Serve with steamed rice.

Stir-fried crab with green onions & ginger

Stir-fried crab with green onions & ginger

Stir-Fried Crab with Green Onions & Ginger
recipe from “It’s Finger-Lickin’ Crab Time” by Janny Hu, San Francisco Chronicle

2 large fresh Dungeness crabs
1 tbsp coarsely chopped Chinese fermented black beans
3 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 1/2 tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp finely minced garlic
1/4 c thinly sliced green onions
3/4 c unsalted chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp peanut oil
2 oz coarsely ground pork butt
1/2 tsp paper-thin rings of red Fresno chile
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp cold water
Silvered green onions, for garnish

In a medium bowl, combine the black beans with the with the rice wine or sherry; set aside for 20 minutes to infuse the wine. Drain the beans and reserve the wine. Combine the black beans, ginger, garlic, and green onions in a bowl, cover and set aside. In another bowl, combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, and sugar; set aside.
Par-cook the crabs in rapidly boiling water for about 1 minute, until they stop moving. Let crabs cool until they can be easily handled and cleaned. To clean each crab, turn it belly-side up. Tear off the apron, then firmly grasp the top shell at the rear end and pull it off. Discard the top shell and the gills in the body of the crab, then thoroughly rinse the crab with cool water.
To portion the crab, snap off the legs and claws and crack them lightly with a mallet or the handle end of a cleaver, which will allow the seasonings to penetrate. Then with a cleaver or heavy knife, chop the body into 2 or 4 pieces, depending on the size of the crabs.
(All of the above steps may be done a night in advance, but make sure to seal and refrigerate the ingredients, and bring to room temperature before cooking.)
About 15 minutes before serving, heat a wok or large heavy skillet until hot enough to evaporate a bead of water on contact. Add the oil and swirl to glaze the pan. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a green onion ring, add the black bean mixture and stir until fragrant, about 20-30 seconds, adjusting the heat so it foams without browning.
Add the pork and stir-fry for about a minute; add the chili rings and crab, and toss to combine. Splash the reserved wine in the pan, tossing the crab several times to evaporate the wine. Stir the chicken stock mixture and add to the pan. Even out the crab in the pan and raise the heat to bring the liquids to a boil. Cover the pan and cook until the liquids are reduced by three-fourths and the crab is cooked through, about 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to moderate, stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine, then add to the pan. Toss until the remaining sauce turns glossy, about 15 seconds, and clings to the crab. Serve the crab immediately, piled on a large platter and garnished with the slivered green onions.

The feast continued with steamed fish and pea shoots with garlic, but alas, I didn’t snap any photos before we dug in. For dessert, we had baked don tats (they went too quickly too!), and finished with fortune cookies and orange slices.

My fortune for the year? “Your thoughts are highly regarded.” I’ll take that! :)

Fortune cookie with orange slices.

Fortune cookie with orange slices.

Gung hay fat choy!

Recipes from my mother-in-law, unless otherwise noted. Photos by me.

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