Sunday, January 22, 2012

Year of the Dragon

How cool is that.  The Year of the Dragon.  Kind of sounds like a movie.

But it's really not a movie, because if it were, this would be an entirely different post.  You see, I am no Asian chef.  Asian cuisine is absolutely not my strong suit.  I can barely cook rice.  Risotto, sure, I make a mean risotto, but white rice - NO.

So what's a gal like me do for Chinese New Year?  Wing it, baby.

My husband and I went to the Asian supermarket today to look for Chinese New Year (CNY) decorations for our CNY dinner.  Wow, $15 for a cardboard lantern with a dragon on it.  Sure, I like to wing it but not crash and burn.

What we did find was that you can get carp - to eat - at Asian markets.  Do not misunderstand me with what I say next - I respect all cultures...but...poor carp!  If we ever build a koi pond, Pete and I know how we'll stock it.  Be free, poor carp, be free!  Moving on...

At home, I put together my mixed-matched version of a CNY.  A spicy shrimp stir-fry, jasmine rice, pineapple and tangerines, and yes - sparkling Sake.

Yes, I am aware that's Japanese, not Chinese.  No judging here.

Anyhow, time to decorate.  But with what?  When you wing it with a themed dinner, you do what you must. You take anything you have in your home and switch it around.  So with the chocolate Chinese dragon coins we bought at $.25 a piece (steal!), and some bamboo from our garden, I was good to go.  

I find that if you have candles, you can pretty much make anything look fab.  Those black votive holders?  Not votive holders - they're tea cups.  The buddah was from San Fran and the foo dogs were from an internet sale.  Red tea lights were a Target Valentine's Day deal from 2011.  Decorations, done!

The stir-fry was my biggest challenge.  We don't eat much in the way of stir-fry in my house and mostly because I don't care for rice or the bother of Asian noodles.  I am at a culinary loss with these things.  I think I lack patience.  I've boiled too rinse-and-eat kinds and rinsed the boil-only sorts of Asian noodles.  Jasmine rice to me is sticky and gelatinous, yet my family loves jasmine rice.  A mom's gotta do what she's gotta do.  I put on my big girl panties and got to work.

The scent of ginger is heavenly...

That oil wasn't hot - it was nuclear

In the end, it wasn't half bad.  Spicy, with a hint of fresh ginger.  Nice!  

So will I try again next year for an improved CNY dinner?  Sure, why not!  If you have a great, tried and true stir-fry recipe, please send it my way.  I love that with stir-fry meals, you can put in lean proteins and loads of fresh veggies and in minutes, you have a meal.  Winning!  

Enjoy your Chinese New Year, even if your stir-fry is more like scrambled eggs.  Just get cookin'!

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