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The Year Of The Rabbit
Chinese food is one of the most popular styles of cuisine in the world and not just because there are so many Chinese people, it also tastes good.This week is the start of the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit.
The Chinese Zodiac is a 12 year cycle and each year of the cycle is named after an animal and each animal has a different personality and characteristic. It is this animal that is believed to be the main factor in determining the personality, traits, success, and happiness of those born within that year. This year’s symbol, the rabbit, symbolizes graciousness and good manners; they tend to be lucky in business and astute at striking bargains. If you were born in 1997, 1975, 1963 and 1952 you are a ‘rabbit’!
The Chinese believe that each food ingredient has either yin (cooling) or yan (heating) or neutral properties and that there is a direct correlation between the food you eat and the yin yang balance in your body. Season and weather also play their part. Heating food in winter reduces the yin; cooling food in summer counters the yan. The majority of meats – beef, lamb, chicken and goose- are said to be yang or heating foods though duck is yin, fresh water fish is neutral and herbs and vegetables such as ginger, garlic, spring onion, coriander, chilli pepper and celery are yang. However bean sprouts, green beans and spinach are yin. Again, balance and harmony of the yin and yan in what you put together is the secret to blending flavours.
Below is one of my favourite Chinese dishes
Sesame Salmon Toasts
This is a version of the classic Chinese appetiser that is normally made with the prawn, but for this recipe I have replaced it by salmon. The beauty of this recipe is that not only is it so quick but it can be made in advance and reheated just prior to serving.Ideally serve it with other oriental snacks as part of a full Chinese meal.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 8 – 10
225g fresh salmon – skinned
1 medium egg white
2 spring onions – trimmed and chopped
1 cm piece fresh ginger root – peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove – peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon corn flour
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon – fresh red chilli – finely chopped or dried chilli powder
8 slices of firm-textured white bread
5 tablespoons sesame seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
300ml vegetable oil – for frying
Garnish: Sprigs of coriander
1) Place the salmon into a saucepan of simmering water. Cover and cook for 5- 10 minutes until the flesh is firm and no longer pale pink. Drain and set aside.
2) Put the salmon, spring onions, ginger, garlic, corn flour, chilli and sugar into the food processor. Season with about ½ teaspoon of salt and black pepper.
3) Process until the mixture forms a smooth paste.
4) Using a knife spread an even layer of paste over the bread slices. Sprinkle each slice generously with sesame seeds, pressing gently to bury them in the paste.
5) Trim the crusts off each slice, then cut each slice diagonally into 4 triangles. Cut each triangle in half again to make 8 pieces from each slice.
6) Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok to 190C/375F or until a small cube of bread browns in about 30 seconds. Working in batches, fry the salmon toasts for 30 – 60 seconds or until they are golden on both sides.
7) Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Keep warm in the oven – 180C/350F – for 10 minutes To serve the stylish way: Arrange them on a large serving plate and garnish with sprigs of coriander. Serve immediately.