Food & Drink

Add Chinese flair to fish, shrimp for Year of the Fire Rooster celebration

Put together a complete Chinese New Year feast.
Put together a complete Chinese New Year feast. Special to the Star-Telegram

Happy Chinese New Year — now, let’s eat.

The Chinese New Year is Saturday, and it’s the Year of the Fire Rooster. Fire Roosters, and those born in the Year of the Fire Rooster, are said to be trustworthy, punctual and responsible. (Lucky clucks!)

As with most celebrations, there are traditional Chinese New Year foods and traditions. A zodiac watcher and horoscope reader myself (please don’t judge on that last part), I’ve put together a festive family dinner menu that honors these traditions.

Whole fish symbolizes prosperity. I steamed whole branzino with ginger, garlic and green onion in a traditional bamboo steamer. If you don’t own one, never fear. You can steam fish in a skillet just by elevating the fish up out of the water and covering.

Dumplings symbolize wealth. The chefs at the critically acclaimed Cannon Chinese Kitchen on the Near Southside of Fort Worth shared their very special recipe for har gow, or shrimp dumplings. (I asked them if you can buy the outer dough for the dumplings pre-made, and unfortunately, you can’t. They must be made from scratch — get the kids involved.)

I’ve also shared two sides to accompany the whole fish and dumplings — my fried rice with shrimp and green beans with garlic.

Have some fun. Try something new. And here’s wishing you a prosperous and healthy Year of the Rooster.

Steamed whole branzino

Serves 2

  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 2 9-inch long, whole branzino, already cleaned and descaled (select a size to fit in your bamboo steamer or skillet)
  • 1 knob of fresh ginger, sliced into 12 thin circles
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced into 12 thin circles
  • 1 small bunch green onions, sliced into 4-inch-long pieces
  • Parchment paper
  • Bamboo steamer

For the marinade:

Mix together soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, grated ginger and chopped green onion in a glass baking dish. Set aside.

To prepare the fish:

1. Cut 3 slits into each side of the fish. Inside each slit, place 1 piece of sliced ginger, 1 piece of sliced garlic, and 1 piece of green onion. The pieces will stick out of the slits. Place fish into the marinade and spoon marinade over fish, being sure to let it seep into the slits. Let set for up to 1 hour, spooning marinade over fish every 15 minutes.

2. Place a piece of parchment paper in the steamer basket. Place the fish onto the parchment paper, folding the tail under if needed to fit. Fill a wok with 3-4 inches of water and place covered bamboo steamer on top of the water, making sure the water is not deep enough to touch the fish. Spoon remaining marinade over the fish inside the steamer. Steam covered for 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Add more water as needed during cooking. (If using a skillet in place of a bamboo steamer, place water into the skillet and elevate the fish in a vegetable steamer basket. No parchment paper is needed.) Remove from steamer and, working with 2 forks, gently remove the fish from the bones to serve. (If you’ve never done it, there are great online videos on how to fillet a whole fish).

Nutritional analysis per serving: 229 calories, 5 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams protein, 62 milligrams cholesterol, 676 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 20 percent of calories from fat.

Fried rice with shrimp

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  •  1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 2 cups chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 5 cups cooked rice (basmati or jasmati, or any long-grain white or brown rice)
  • 1 pound medium cooked shrimp, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas, defrosted

Stir together broth, mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok. When hot, add eggs and cook while stirring for about 30 seconds. Add onions and ginger and cook for another minute. Add rice, chopped shrimp and peas and combine. Heat thoroughly and add liquid mixture. Stir well and let simmer on low heat for another 5-10 minutes to let all the flavors combine. Serve alone as a main dish, or as a side dish.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 408 calories, 9 grams fat, 54 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 186 milligrams cholesterol, 663 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 20 percent of calories from fat.

Green beans with garlic sauce

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  •  1/2 pound fresh green beans, ends cut
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoonlow-sodium soy sauce

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet on medium-low heat. Add garlic and turn heat down to low so as not to burn. When garlic is lightly browned, add green beans. Add 1 tablespoon water, and cover to steam. Cook until slightly tender, about 4-6 minutes. Add salt and soy sauce and stir. Add more soy sauce and salt as needed. Serve immediately.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 83 calories, 7 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 320 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 74 percent of calories from fat.

Har gow (shrimp dumplings)

Makes about 20 dumplings

For the dough:

  • 1 cup wheat starch
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  •  1/2 cup boiling water

For the filling:

  • 1 pound cooked shrimp, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon green onions (white ends only)
  • 2 tablespoons bamboo shoots, minced
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shao Xing cooking wine (available in most Asian markets)
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  •  1/2 teaspoon sugar
  •  1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg white
  • Pinch of pepper

To make the dough:

1. Mix the wheat starch, tapioca starch and vegetable oil together in a bowl. Add boiling water and mix thoroughly. Work in a warm area so the dough does not cool down too quickly. Knead the dough for 3 minutes and ensure that the dough is not too sticky. Add more wheat starch in small amounts as needed. The dough should look white. (Once dumplings are steamed they will turn semi-transparent.) Let the dough sit for 5 minutes in a warm area.

2. After 5 minutes, roll the dough out into a 1-inch-thick rope and cut into 1-inch pieces. Using a small rolling pin, roll each piece out into a small circle.

To make the filling:

Place all filling ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times just until all ingredients are blended. Should not be smooth or liquidy.

To assemble:

Use a small spoon to scoop about  3/4 ounces of filling and place in the center of each dough circle that you rolled out with the rolling pin. Do this on a nonstick surface or use parchment paper. Fold the dough by forming small pleats and use your finger to press and seal the dough at the top. There should be about 8 pleats on each dumpling. Be sure to seal completely.

To steam:

Place a banana leaf or parchment paper inside the bamboo steamer basket. Place dumplings on top of the banana leaf or parchment, making sure dumplings don’t touch each other. Place 3-4 inches of water inside a wok and place covered bamboo steamer basket on top of the water. Water should never touch the dumplings. Steam for 8 minutes until outside is translucent. Dumplings will be very hot. Let cool before eating. Serve with soy sauce or Chinese dipping sauce.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 57 calories, 1 gram fat, 6 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 45 milligrams cholesterol, 103 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 16 percent of calories from fat.

Cannon Chinese Kitchen, 304 Cannon St., Fort Worth, TX 76104


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