Today is the Chinese new year and 2014 is the Year of the Horse – one of my favourite animals, so I am especially excited about this year and wanted to share some of the traditions and recipes for Chinese New Year. Usually the run-up new year will be spent cleaning the whole house to welcome in a fresh new year and decorating the home (in a similar way to Christmas decorations) with red and gold garlands, lanterns and paper-cutting decorations. Similar to Dec 31st, New Year’s eve on 30th January is the biggest day of the Chinese new year celebration when most families will have a big reunion dinner to celebrate, traditionally serving fish and dumplings.
I’m using Chinese new year as an excuse to share a photo of my Maneki Neko collection – even though they are of Japanese origin, they are also a popular good luck charm for Chinese businesses here in the UK and you’ll see windows full of lucky cats if you head to any Chinatown! Also – worth a mention – just as I inserted this photo into the blog post ‘Turning Japanese’ came on the radio! I picked up a red paper lantern just before the Chinese new year last year when I was in Manchester and I will be hanging this on my window to welcome in the New Year while enjoying a nice (if somewhat tacky!) Chinese takeaway! Here’s my take on a sweet n sour recipe:
Ingredients: 500g chicken breast, Low calorie cooking spray, Salt and black pepper, 1 large onion, 1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper and 1 green pepper, 2 large carrots, ¼ tsp Chinese 5 spice, 2 garlic cloves, 1 level tbsp cornflour, 4 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 4 tbsp light soy sauce, 150ml chicken stock, 400g pineapple.
Slice the chicken and spray with low calorie cooking spray and season well. Stir-fry your chicken for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through before setting aside.
- Spray the pan with low calorie cooking spray and add sliced onion, chopped pepper, carrot matchsticks or rounds and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until piping hot.
- Mix 2 tbsp water with the chinese 5 spice in a bowl and add the crushed garlic, cornflour, tomato puree, white wine vinegar, soy sauce and stock. Pour this mixture into the pan, stir and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the sauce has thickened, then add the pineapple chunks.
You can serve this yummy sweet n sour dish with boiled rice or egg noodles and you can always add any extra veg you have such a sugarsnap peas, mangetout, beans, even broccoli. Plus you can try using strips of pork or prawns instead of chicken or give the meat a miss altogether and have a veggie version!
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