This Sunday its Chinese New Year – celebrating happiness, forgiveness and looking to the future. This year we wave good bye to the Dragon and say hello to the Snake. I heard on Radio 2 that ancient Chinese wisdom says a Snake in the house is a good omen because it means the family never starve. I like this and thought maybe I’m a Snake seeing as I love to feed people! I looked it up and alas – I’m a rat- compassionate, flexible, intellectual and creative traits but with a tendency to be passive-aggressive and sometimes even self destructive. Oh dear!
Anyway, in honour of Chinese New Year and to welcome the year of the (well fed) Snake, here’s my Chinese Feast. I received a £10 voucher from Midlands Co – op which I used to pay for some of the ingredients. They have an offer on Chinese ingredients running until 26 Feb including 3 Blue Dragon stir fry sauces for £1 and 2 for £2.50 on exotic veg.
I chose two recipes from Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen for my feast. He’s so well travelled and his recipes are authentic and delicious, although the pork belly dish took a long list of ingredients and was tricky to do.
Red Braised Pork Belly
Ingredients, serves 4-6:
- 800g pork belly
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp rock sugar (or caster sugar)
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 3 cm knob of fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 dried chillies
- 200ml water
- 3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
- Bring a wide pan of water to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly. Lower the pork belly into the pan (cut in half if it doesn’t fit) and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Skim off the scum and froth from the surface; there will be a lot of it. Drain the pork belly and leave to cool slightly. Rinse out the pan and return to the hob.
- Cut the belly pork into 2cm cubes. Heat the oil and sugar in the pan over a medium heat. Once the sugar is melted and beginning to caramelise, add the pork piece, skin side down and fry for a few mins until the skin begins to caramelise. *You really need to do this for a while – be sure to really render the fat as it makes a difference later on!*
- Add the soy sauces, ginger, star anise, cinnamon and dried chillies to the pan and pour in enough water to just cover the meat. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 50-60 minutes until the pork is very tender.
- Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Boil the sauce until reduced and syrupy, then taste and adjust the seasoning adding a little more sugar if you find it too salty. Stir in the spring onions, reserving a handful for serving, and return the pork to the pan to warm through.
- Pile the pork into a warm bowl, sprinkle with the remaining spring onion.
Chinese Broccoli with oyster sauce
Trim 450g Chinese broccoli (I used normal broccoli), wash and drain well, then cut into finger lengths. In a bowl, mix 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry), 1/4 tsp caster sugar, 3 tbsp oyster sauce and 1/2 tsp sesame oil with 60ml veg or chicken stock. In a large wok or frying pan heat 1 tbsp groundnut oil over a medium heat. Add 3 lightly smashed garlic cloves and fry until lightly golden, then added a grated 3cm knob ginger and fry for 30secs. Tip in the broccoli and stir fry for 30secs. Pour in the sauce, put the lid on and let the vegetables steam for 2-3 mins until tender. Serve immediately.
The finished thing: