Monday, January 30, 2017

Happy Year of the Rooster!

Goodbye to the Monkey and hello Rooster!

For those that dont know, Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) is a huge holiday filled with festivities and lots of superstitions!

Growing up in NY, we were lucky enough that we were able to celebrate with other Chinese and Asian folks. We had access to all the decorations and the parades, lion dances, red envelopes, and more! Our family follows the basic rituals and traiditons but we don't follow them all. If we did, we probably would need the two weeks off that the Asian countries have! This was and still is always a time where my sister and I looked forward to. Nowadays, we really enjoy meal planning and throwing the party!

This year, my sister decided to host and about two weeks before the CNY dinner, we began to furiously plan. We knew we needed an entire chicken, a whole fish, noodles, meat, and dessert. We ended up with Hainanese chicken, whole steamed fish, Turnip cakes, Taiwanese mee fun, sweet and sour pork ribs, salt and pepper fried head on shrimp, fish cake soup, pan fried bottarga from Taiwan, and Taro tapioca dessert. Believe it or not, we made all of this from scratch!

Few days before the dinner, we were debating on where to order the Turnip cakes from. At the end of our debate... we just decided to make our own!

Let me just preface and say... turnips do not smell the best! My apartment smelled like turnip for a few hours... but it was so worth it!

I knew that getting the consistency of the turnip cakes was the most important part so I had to very careful in all my measurements. Another pro to this recipe is that I used the Instantpot to steam the turnip cakes. Here is my recipe and ingredient list:

2lbs coarsely shredded Daikon/Turnip, about 2.5- 3C (always buy a bit more because of water weight and you wont want to shred your fingers)
1 Chinese Sausage steamed and finely diced
Handful of Dried Shrimp
5 dried Shiitake Musrooms, finely diced
2.5 C Rice Flour (do not use glutionous rice flour)
2 C water (split into 2 1 cups)
Salt to taste
White Pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:
- Rehydrate the mushrooms and dried shrimp in lukewarm water. You can do this in the same or separate bowls.
- Peel and shred daikon. I used a scale to measure grams to pound which is 453.5g to 1 pound
- Mix the rice flour with  1 cup water and make sure the mix is smooth and not lumpy
- Heat oil in a pan/wok/skillet, and stir fry the sausage, mushrooms, shrimp for a few minutes. Add the daikon, 1 c water, salt, white pepper.
- Once the daikon starts to cook down and the liquid is bubbling/boiling, turn off the heat.
- Since my pan wasnt big enough, I moved my daikon mix into a bowl and began to add the rice flour mixture. Stir thoroughly.
- Grease lightly an aluminum loaf pan and pour the mixture in the pan.
- Add two cups water to the Instantpot, make sure the steam rack is in the pot and place the loaf pan on top of the steam rack. I was able to fit two loaf pans criss crossed.
- I steamed in the Instantpot for 40 minutes with a natural release (10 min)
- After I took them out, I let it cool down and harden a bit.

The best would be to prepare this in advance and let the turnip cakes harden so it would be easier to pan fry. I found that the results two days after it was made  was the best!

Once pan fried, garnish with cilantro and enjoy with soy paste!

Of course, photos below!