Hi Food-blog followers!!
I am on time for once! Amazing! Having a fantastic Chinese New Year FEAST with my little family, some friends from work (and their spouses and kids) this weekend and my dad. I usually celebrate with my family, but this year I had a conference on the CNY weekend and was away and unfortunately missed it!! Boooo!! But no matter! No use sitting around moping about it, I decided to create a new tradition!
Preparing some fairly traditional dishes but hoping to make things “not-too-hard” for myself, given that I am so busy otherwise. There is one dish in particular that will take several hours to make. This dish is called “Loh Han Zhai” or “Jai” or “Buddha’s delight.” It has about seventy-billion (obscure) ingredients that (I would only cook with once a year and can only be obtained in Chinese grocers – and even then sometimes I have trouble finding EVERYTHING I need) have to be prepped in a certain way, then each ingredient has to be pan fried in a wok with a little bit of oil and some burnt sugar, and added to a big pot, with a special Chinese masterstock and cooked for a further few hours. It takes ages… but is the centrepiece of the table. It is completely vegetarian too. I am setting aside the day tomorrow to prep this dish and a have a cheeky bottle of champers to be my company as a do so ;P
BUT today, the dish I wanted to share the recipe for today is a much simpler dish (prep/cook time around 15-20 min tops) that I will prep fresh on the day. Fish with ginger and shallots. Traditionally this dish is prepared by steaming the fish, but I like the flavour I get from getting a little bit of char on the fish fillet itself, so that’s why I do it this way. Traditionally also, the fish is cooked WHOLE, but given my little people (aged 2 and 4 at present) also love to eat fish, I like to buy fish fillets as I feel that it is less likely that they will choke on a fish-pinbone whilst they are eating. My favourite fish to use is fresh barramundi, but if I can’t get that for whatever reason, any other fish with a firm white flesh will do (eg snapper, trevally, cobia, mahi mahi are my Aussie favourites, but less expensive alternatives might be cod or Nile perch).
In Chinese, “fish” (鱼 Yú /yoo/) sounds like ‘surplus’. Chinese people always like to have a surplus at the end of the year, because they think if they have managed to save something at the end of the year, then they can make more in the next year. So in essence, fish represents an increase in prosperity! Each dish on the menu is symbolic of something and has meaning, but given CNY is all about tradition, thankfully I don’t have to think too hard about the menu because the dishes stay much the same each year.
Charred barramundi with ginger and shallots
This dish is really easy and quick to prep. A great, easy traditional dish to add to your CNY banquet menu, but also an easy dish to prep for dinner any night of the week whilst you steam the rice in the rice cooker! This recipe would probably serve about 4 people if it were the only dish you were having with vegetables and rice.
- 1 tbs light soy sauce
- 2 tbs caster sugar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbs Shao Xing cooking wine (or dry sherry)
- 5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into matchsticks
- 600g of fresh Australian wild-caught barramundi (or alternative firm white fish fillets)
- 2 cups of green vegetables to serve on the side (my kids love broccoli, but it isn’t typically Asian! For presentation reasons you can use bok choy, pak choy or choy sum)
- 2 spring ondions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
- 1 long fresh red chilli, sliced thinly on diagonal (for garnish – optional)
- Fry the ginger in the wok in a hot oil until crispy, then remove to paper towel and put aside
- Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and whisk lightly with a forl until sugar dissolves
- Chop the fish into pieces of desired size (I like them to be about 2x3cm; easy to pick up with chopsticks! But whatever you like) and season with salt and pepper.
- Use the same oil (hot) as the ginger and pan fry until golden brown and almost cooked through.
- Add the soy sauce mixture and simmer for a further 1-2 minutes (until fish cooked through)
- Remove to a serving plate, garnish first with spring onion, then with chilli
- Serve with steamed rice.
Simple, fresh and delicious.
Gotta love it!!!!!!!
Let me know if you try it and post me a pic!
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Keep cooking and stay cool!