We’ve teamed up with Amoy to celebrate Chinese New Year this year, and they’ve given us some amazing recipes, including ones from top chef Ching-He Huang, as well as some top tips to help you create a fabulous, modern Chinese New Year celebration.
Ching’s Chinese New Year Top Tips
Always serve fish
‘Fish is always served at a Chinese New Year meal as it is an auspicious dish. Fish is pronounced ‘yu’ in Chinese, which sounds like the word for ‘plenty’ – so serving fish is a way of wishing your guests a plentiful year! Amoy has created a great steamed oriental fish dish, perfect for the occasion.’
Plan in advance
‘Creating a menu and time plan is a great way to stay organised when cooking for a large party. Keep the menu fairly simple, offering a variety of dishes that are tasty but can be made speedily. Plan out all elements of your cooking, allowing you enough time to mingle with your friends and enjoy the party too! Amoy has a great range of recipes and products that can help you create a truly authentic modern Asian meal, with very little fuss.’
Preparation is key
‘When hosting a dinner party, I always do as much preparation in advance as I can. I try and marinate my meat the day before the party, which not only frees up time, but also adds more depth of flavour. You could also cut your vegetables a couple of hours before you start cooking and store them in the fridge to keep them fresh. Preparation doesn’t necessarily have to be time-consuming; it could be as easy as removing Amoy Straight to Wok Noodles from their packets before you start cooking!’
Serve everything at once
‘Asian main meals tend to be several dishes served all at once. The easiest way to ensure everything arrives on the table piping hot is to cook them in advance and keep them warm in the oven or steamer. Make sure the heat isn’t too hot, and cover meats in tin-foil to stop them drying out.’
Key to the perfect rice
‘Cooking rice in stock is a great way to add flavour with very little work. When I serve my rice, I tend to top it with black and white toasted sesame seeds or sliced spring onions for a pop of colour. A really quick and easy way to add depth of flavour is to pour in a little Amoy Reduced Salt Soy Sauce after fluffing.
Ching He Huang’s Top Cookery Tips
Ching’s essential store-cupboard ingredients include: Amoy Light Soy Sauce, Amoy Dark Soy Sauce, Shaohsing rice wine, toasted sesame oil, five-spice powder, Sichuan peppercorns, Chinkiang black rice vinegar, clear rice vinegar, chilli bean sauce, chilli sauce
Look after your wok – stir frying requires high heat, which woks are specially designed to withstand. Let your wok cool down after cooking, if you submerge in water straight away the metal can distort. To clean, wipe with a soft sponge in warm soapy water and rinse. Dry carbon steel woks on the hob before wiping with oil to keep ‘seasoned’.
Ensure your ingredients are roughly the same size for even cooking. The most common mistake with stir frying is to throw all the ingredients in at the same time – the ingredients that take the least time to cook, such as pak choy, go in right near the end.
Preparation is key to ensuring a successful stir fry. Make stocks, chop vegetables and have spices to hand before turning on the heat.
Cutting on the diagonal cutting exposes more of the vegetable’s surface area to the heat, making it cook quickly and allowing it to absorb more of the sauces and seasonings.
Use the holy trinity of Chinese cooking – plenty of garlic, ginger and chillies. These are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, just a few seconds in the wok stir fried with your favourite ingredients will keep your immune system on track.
Cooking wine – many Chinese recipes contain cooking wine in the ingredients – the genuine article is usually Shaoxing rice wine, but if you don’t have any to hand you can use pale dry sherry as a good replacement.
Make sure you choose the right oil. Oils with a high heating point work best, such as sunflower, groundnut and vegetable oil. Avoid toasted sesame oil as it has a low heating point and burns quickly – use this for seasoning your dishes instead
Get your wok hot enough before cooking. Heat it to a high heat until it starts to smoke before adding your oil.
Keep meat moist when stir-frying by sprinkling with a few drops of Amoy Dark Soy Sauce and dusting in a light coating of potato flour or cornflour before adding to the wok
Ching-He Huang is a British Chinese food writer and TV chef who has appeared in a variety of television cooking shows. Huang has starred in eight popular TV series and is the author of five best-selling cookbooks. Her television series include Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure, Chinese Food in Minutes and Chinese Food Made Easy.