Happy Chinese New Year Everyone!!!!
The Lunar New Year falls on the 31st of January this year. I believe they get a month off or something ridiculous...but I guess this is their "winter break". It's also that time of the year when they would visit all their friends and relatives (who are older and get visited by people who are younger), wishing them a Happy New Year. Then in return, "Red Pockets" were given ,filled with money. I remember I used to show them off to my dad telling him how much I've made that year and then finally one day he replied..."It's all the same. I give just as much, if not more, to their kids as well..." Way to ruin the mood, Daddy.
Then of course, there are the food traditions. Some of the foods I used to eat were "Nian Gao" and dumplings. Nian-Gao means Sticky- Rice Cake which is sweet rice flour mixed with brown sugar and water then steamed with dates. However "Nian" also means Year and "Gao" means High (same pronunciation different characters), so you could interpret it as a Higher (Better) Year.
But after a quick Google search, I learned that apparently oranges and noodles are a part of the tradition as well. I'm not surprised since different parts of China has their own traditions but normally we eat noodles on our birthdays for a long life.
For the sake of experimentation, I decided to go with noodles this year. It sounds like a pretty simple dish but it took me a good 3 hours to prepare.
I left my pasta machine in Vancouver so I rolled these out with a rolling pin. Time consuming but not impossible and I have done it in the past. If you let your dough rest for 30 minutes then rolling is quite easy and if using the machine I would skip the resting time.
1 cup water
1 cup flour
1 tbsp sesame oil
5 dried red peppers crushed
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup ground beef
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
green onions (optional)
julienned veggies (cucumbers, carrots, radishes, spouts, peppers)
Last night I boiled a medium beet root with a cup of water. I let it reduce to about a half cup. This morning I combined a cup of flour with the beet juice and kneaded it for 10 minutes. Add more water as needed but you want the dough to be really tough and dry. There's an old Chinese saying..."soft dough dumplings and tough dough noodles". Sounds cheesy but true.
After kneading, wrap it in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes in the fridge. Then I cut them into 3 sections and rolled out each separately. When you get to the desired thickness (1-2mm) flour both sides, fold, and cut into thin strips.
Bring a pot of water to boil and season with salt. It's really important to season the water with this being a cold noodle dish. Once you run it through cold water it will get rid of all the starches that cling onto the sauce. If you don't season the noodle itself then the sauce will be too salty and noodle will stay bland. Boil the noodles for 2-3 minutes, drain, rinse and toss with some sesame oil.
Julienne your veggies and top your noodles.
Make the sauce by preheating your pan with 1/4 cup of oil on low heat. Add in crushed red pepper and let it turn slightly dark purple. Add ginger and garlic and stir for 1 minute on medium heat. Add ground beef, soy sauce and sugar and cook for 45 seconds. pour over noodle and serve.
This recipe makes 2 servings.
It's quite spicy so use less red peppers if you can't handle the heat. This is a easy version of Szechuan's DanDan noodles. Enjoy!!