In Asia, New Year is one of those ongoing celebrations, amongst the most important of the year. It can last up to 2 weeks or even longer, and it is becoming more and more popular in the Western world as well. Original products are becoming freely available in normal supermarkets, when just a few years ago the only place to find them were in the specialist Chinese shops. Here are a few recipes to have some fun with.......................
En Asie, les fêtes de la Nouvelle Année sont les plus importantes de l’Année. Ça peut durée plus que deux semaines, chaque jour autres chose sur la table "estivale"......Depuis peu, on trouve les spécialités en Europe aussi, dans les magasins normaux, au prix raisonnable. Avant il fallait aller dans des petites magasins spécialisés, avec des prix "spécialisés".... Voici quelques propositions avec lesquelles on peut s'amuser......
Guess what 2011 is in the Chinese Calender........Yes - it's "WABBIT".....now I don't know if that means you can't EAT them this year or if you SHOULD eat them this year, so I think I'll just keep on as usual, with a few little changes from "Rabbit in mustard sauce".........
..I've never had the chance to travel to China or Japan or those other countries that celebrate, a definate error in my upbringing, but if any of my readers has a free place in one of their private jets and a little room free in one of their homes or hotels, I could rapidly correct my error.
With the influx over centuries of Chinese people towards Europe, a lot of the "Oriental Mystery" is disappearing, and many European countries take the opportunity to celebrate with the Chinese residents in Europe.
I recall passing through Brussels in Belgium, many years ago, and deciding with my wife to just take a Chinese meal - for a change.
5 hours later, we stumbled out into the dark with presents under our arms....!
To be very honest, I am not a specialist or even a great liker of things like "saki" but when one is plied with the stuff, at no cost, then one has to be simply polite - close your eyes, think of the Queen and Country - swallow it down and get on to the next little thing!
Rice wine isn't my "cup of tea" either,..and the infamous rice wine with a snake inside the bottle was fascinating to see, and less fascinating to drink... but since no Red Burgundy was available - I suffered in silence....!
More to my taste was the Asiatique preoccupation with everything that comes in a shell - like me, they adore these things, and the cooking ideas are, refreshingly, kept very simple. No extremely complicated sauces, just dip the pieces, pre-marinaded in a soy sauce, into a thickish yeast coating batter, pop into either the "wok" or the deep fryer, and around 4 minutes later you have a succulent dish, just oozing the oriental taste....."Scampi" are ideally placed to give an Asian aspect to our tables in Europe - all year round.....As a starter course, with some of that crispy crackling wafer bread, or as a main course with some fried rice....yes please, I could happily spend time in Asia.....
My only problem, as a "traditionalist", is the wine to accompany such delights, and - if I can - I tend to stay with my traditional choice of wines - from Europe....!
But.......going back to the starter course, in Europe nowadays, there is a wave of sympathy and fashion for a certain thing called ..SUSHI....!
Impossible here to really go into the subject in depth - it's inexhaustible...both in variety and quality and in price as well...but it is within the price range of just about everyone with a touch of inventiveness in the kitchen. Surely - not the absolute best of the immense choice, but then......we don't eat caviar all the time either - or do you.....?
Sushi is different, attractive, relatively simple to make to the standard of the normal European. Certainly there are huge differences between the luxury preparations and the normal "household" preparations, but even in Japan there are a few million people who are not millionaires....!
..Main courses - Well, after our Scampi style deep batter fried lobster, shrimps, these are similar to those we eat in Europe.
Apart from the occasional mistake of eating dogmeat (a taste shared incidentally with the Swiss!) the main meat dishes are from rabbit, poultry, pork, occasionally beef.
The main difference seems to be the application of rice, soya or other similar sauces, very often in fact presented more in the fashion of a thin liquid, more like (for our Western eyes) a "garnished soup".....there are so many specialities that it would be presumptious of me to pick out any in particular...
And so you can go on and on.....for many hours......and for many days.....you'll always get caught up with the famous and sometimes infamous "cookies" or "fortune cookies" beleive or beleive not - as you wish, just one tip......if that little piece of paper says "you are entitled to a free meal" - order the most expensive, eat it with relish......When you've finished the washing up, you can always reflect on a sparkling Chinese New Year........
iwmpop (mr le marquis) - Vauvert, France - Février 2011