The South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors celebrates Chinese New Year by cooking some Chinese dishes for this meet. Cooking Chinese food is new to some of the members and they enjoyed it very much.
We had a little game with chopsticks during lunch. The game is to see who can pick up the most marble using chopsticks. First, it’s a couple who has the least experience using chopsticks to compete. I can only remember Karen (sitting, middle) won the competition. We were amazed how a person who does not use chopsticks can do so well with the chopsticks. On the other hand, those regular users of chopsticks failed in this competition. That include me who only managed to pick up on marble, :-(.
Stella decorated the dining table with Chinese New Year goodies like red packets, mandarin oranges and Chinese New Year cookies. Stella also explained to the group that the red packet is to be distributed from married people who are more senior in status to people who are younger and more junior in status who are not marry yet, even you are 40s, 50s or 60s. In Cantonese tradition, the red packets are distributed in pair, especially from parents or close relatives.
Paul and Karen made this Mah Poh Tofu. I had blogged about Mah Poh Tofu, but this recipe is slightly different.
- 1 block medium tofu (about 1 pound), drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 6 oz ground pork (150-200g)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chili bean paste (do ban jiang)
- 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper (or 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper)
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons cold water
- salt to taste
- Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add pork and stir-fry until no longer pink.
- Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and green onions and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chili bean paste and ground Sichuan pepper, and stir-fry 1 more minute, until the oil is a rich red color.
- Pour in the stock and stir well. Mix in the drained tofu gently, dont stir too much otherwise the tofu may break up.
- Season with sugar, soy sauce, and salt to taste. Simmer for about 5 minutes, allowing the tofu to absorb the flavours of the sauce.
- Add cornstarch solution in 2 to 3 stages, mixing well, until the sauce is glossy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not add more than you need, otherwise the sauce will become gummy as it cools.
- Garnish with optional green onions or crushed Sichuan peppercorn, and serve.
Stella also bought some Chinese New Year goodies to share. The above is called “Kok Jei” in Cantonese or Peanut Puff. It is filled with peanut and sugar and deep fried. My grandma used to make this during Chinese New Year. The whole family will gather together to give a helping hand. Someone will roast and grind the peanuts with sugar manually using a huge clay pot with grooves inside, another will make the dough and roll into thin sheets and use a glass or a tin can to cut out circular shape. Others will wrap the dough with peanuts and sugar mixture using a plastic mold to crimp the edges. But my mom will crimp it by hand. Finally, these puff will be deep fried until golden brown. Those are the days that I missed. The homemade peanut puffs taste much better than the store bought ones.
I think this are called “Siu Howe Joe” or smiley dough (I guess). It’s a dough coated with sesame seeds and deep fried. The sesame seeds leave a bursting fragrance in your mouth when you chew on these.
Lastly, Frank brought some fortune cookies to share. We wished everyone a great year ahead and have good fortune in this Ox year.