The holiday season, or really any holiday for that matter, screams tradition, whether or not you celebrate Christmas. One non-Christian friend of mine always gorges on Chinese take-out with her family and hits up Disneyland on Christmas Eve, for example. And yet, despite living here all my life, my family never really established any traditions for the holidays–definitely not for Christmas at least. It has always been just another day… New year’s Eve, on the other hand, had a decent run. For a good many years, we would invite a couple of my aunts and cousins over, pop open Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider, and force all the uninterested boys to watch the ball drop on TV. ‘Twas good times.
But that also dwindled over time… and last year I actually spent New Year’s Eve with my then-fiance and some friends. This year was just as unpromising as far as establishing a tradition is concerned, because we had wanted to cook up something supremely amazing (and simple), watch a film, and do the whole new year’s shtick in Maryland, except the lunch we had was too fulfilling and left us cringing at the thought of eating anything substantial for the rest of the night. That didnt keep up from ice cream however, and while we were ordering at Baskin Robbins that evening, I suddenly chimed with excitement! A tradition was born! We had enjoyed the finer taste of BRs last year as well! of course no one seems to make my apple pie a la mode ice cream any more but still, I was ecstatic, and now G and I MUST have ice cream ever NYE. And though we put our feast on hold til the next day, I still linked it to New Year’s weekend which thus begot me another tradition: chinese food for the New Year celebration. (We went to a suuuuper Chinese restaurant the last time, and made chinese food this time–YAY!). G is probably shaking his head in bewilderment at my profound glee and exuberance at these revelations.
And so, on New Year’s Day, for a fanciful and decadent feast, we dined on my Sweet & Sour Shrimp and his Spicy Hakka Noodles. 🙂 The noodles were his creation, and I can’t recall those steps, so for now you get my recipe, semi-courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, whose recipe I based this on, with some adjustments. The ingredient list seems a bit long, but you essentially add everything into three bowls, mix, and add into a super hot pan (or wok if you have, which i dont) and in ten minutes you’re done. 🙂
Sweet and Sour Shrimp
- 1 lb shrimp, cleaned, deveined, shells removed, etc.
- for marinade: some garlic, ginger, 1 fresh squeeze of lime (or 2 tsp lime juice), some drops sri racha and tabasco sauce (or other hot sauces), salt, pepper (quantities all to preference, but I recommend don’t overdo the ginger, maybe 1/2 tsp at most)
- 2/3 cup of chicken or vegetable stock (we used veggie)
- 2 tbsp sri racha sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp Maggi’s sweet and Spicy sauce (if you have neither of these sauces, 3 tbsp of ketchup is fine, I just enjoy the extra kick these give)
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp orange juice or the like (I used pineapple orange mango juice)
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp cornstarch, and then more on the side
- few tbsp oil
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- assorted bell peppers, chopped into chunks, about 1 cup
- 1 cup pineapple chunks (I bought frozen ones, and defrosted about 10-12 chunks)
- a bunch of green onions (6 sprigs), chopped
So, first and foremost marinate the shrimp in a large bowl and set aside. We marinated it for a good 5 hours I think, but at least 30 minutes at the very minimum. If for a long period, cover and place in the fridge.
Then, combine the necessary sauces. In a medium sized bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the veggie stock, the sri racha and sweet sauces (or ketchup), sugar, orange juice, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. To be honest, I like spice, so I would add a 1 tsp or more of cayenne pepper too, for the special zing :). In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch into the remaining stock liquid until dissolved and set aside. As for the shrimp, drain it from the marinade, and toss it in a bowl or plastic bag with about 2 tsp of cornstarch. I didn’t want to shrimp heavily coated but just all lightly powdered and ready to go. Now you’re ready for a flaming hot and rapid fire trip!
Heat up a wok if you have, or a large frying pan on high, add a few tbsp of oil, and throw in the shrimp and garlic (and maybe some ginger too, for that matter) and stir fry until the shrimp are cooked and become a beautiful pink color with a lustrous dusky orange coating. It really was a thing of beauty, seeing little drops of amber sunlight in my pan… Anyway, remove the shrimp from the pan, and add the onions and peppers (and maybe a little more oil if necessary. This you stir fry for 2-3 minutes, just until they are slightly tender but still with a nice crunch. Add the sauce mix into this, and cook until it has all blended. the sugar should completely melt into the mixture and not be granulated at all.
After this, pour in the cornstarch, mix thoroughly, and bring to a boil. At this point return the shrimp to the pan as well as the pineapples and half of the green onions, letting it all bubble until it thickens into the sweet and succulent sauce it deserves to be. (this only takes about a minute, mind you.)
Pictures to come later. I’ll spare you from salivating for the moment.
Oh my god, we were in sumptuous heaven after this meal, and boy oh boy did it fill us up… Oh, and served with some homemade thai iced tea? What could be better? (yeah, that’s right. We rock. hahaa!)
New Year Chinese Delights, best way to kick off another jaunt ’round the sun.