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February 19 begins the Chinese New Year. 2015 is the year of the Sheep, which I am totally cool with. I was born in the Year of the Horse and we are very compatible according to Chinese astrology. I have always been enamored with Asian history, art, cuisine and culture. Asian food is 100% my favorite food- Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Indian, Korean, etc. etc. etc. It's all delicious to me! One of my dearest friends is Laotian and I would make a pig of myself at her house. I never knew how to make any kind of fried rice until I met her and she taught me how to make it and other Asian foods. In reality, I didn't know how to cook anything outside of pot pie or top ramen until we became besties. She created a monster because I have been cooking like crazy since then.
With the Chinese New Year right around the corner, it's time to celebrate the wish of good fortune to all in the year ahead with traditional appetizers and red envelopes. Have you ever celebrated it? I have always dreamed of going to San Francisco or New York City and seeing the parades and being in the middle of all the excitement. It's definitely on my bucket list! Until then, I like to celebrate with my favorite Chinese food at home and movies.
I can make a mean fried rice but I can't roll an egg roll or spring roll to save my life. However... I can get restaurant quality egg rolls and spring rolls from the freezer section at Walmart! Tai Pei® is one of my all time favorite frozen Asian food brands. Their food rocks my socks. They are loaded with traditional style and flavor chicken and pork (they even have shrimp, too!). They are bursting with flavor, veggies and meat. I love the crispiness and flavorful wrappers. They make it easy to get food on the table especially when that craving for Asian food hits or if you are having a get together or a celebration with friends or family. Heat and eat! The egg rolls and spring rolls come with a dipping sauce. They're soooo delicious and hit the spot.
Tai Pei® Good Fortune in Every Box™ and they really are! That's what makes them perfect to celebrate the Chinese New Year with!
Spring rolls are typically eaten in the spring and they are eaten as a wish for prosperity because they look like gold bars! (source). Rice symbolizes "wealth, fertility, and luck" (source)
Soo... that means my fried rice paired with Tai Pei®'s egg rolls and spring rolls means that the year of the sheep will bring wealth, prosperity, luck and fertility.
I am hoping to be wealthy in love, prosperous in friendship, lucky in life and a fertile garden.
I like my fried rice to be FULL of veggies. I am cool with peas and carrots but... I'd also like onions, snow peas, mushrooms, zucchini, baby corn, cilantro, green onions, broccoli, and protein. Now, the batch I made has all the above except I didn't have any baby corn or broccoli on hand but I have all the rest and let me tell you... it's delicious. DELICIOUS!
Fried rice has only one rule- use cold rice and a hot pan. Other than that- the options are endless. Want to make it vegan? Piece of cake- no meat or egg. Use tofu! Want to make it gluten free- use Tamari soy sauce. It's the perfect way to use up leftovers. My mom use to make "Must Go Soup"- every leftover "must go" into this soup. It's kinda-sorta-maybe like that with fried rice. Use cold left over rice and go to town.
Chinese New Year Chicken Fried Rice
4 cups of cold leftover Jasmine rice*, (I separate the clumps in a bowl ahead of time)
1.5 lbs of uncooked chicken, cut into bit size pieces (you can also use any left over chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, etc.)
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons of soy sauce (I use low sodium Tamari because I love the flavor)
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
Veggies- I used snap peas, minced white onion, julienned zucchini, mushrooms, chopped cilantro, green onions, frozen peas and carrots).
1. Combine soy sauce and rice vinegar in a small dish and set aside.
2. (if using left over meat, you can skip this part)
Pour some sesame oil (approximately a tablespoon) in a wok (or large pan) over medium and add chicken. Cook until chicken is done- just a few minutes. Put chicken into a bowl and set aside.
3. If needed, add more sesame oil to wok. Add veggies and stir fry until just done and still beautiful and crispy. Time varies, depending on veggies. Put cooked veggies into bowl with chicken and set aside.
4. If needed, add more sesame oil to wok. Add onions and garlic cloves and stir fry until aromatic (approximately 30 seconds) and add egg. Rapidly cook egg until nice and scrambled but not quite cooked all the way and then add the rice. Stir fry for a few minutes to allow the rice to marry with the eggs.
5. Add the meat and veggies back to the wok. Add the soy sauce and rice vinegar mix by slowly drizzling and stirring the fried rice around to allow the sauce to get allllllllllllllll over the happy rice and become beautifully mixed up.
6. Serve immediately with Tai Pei® egg rolls and spring rolls.
*You can use any leftover rice!
Bring in the Chinese New Year with fried rice, Tai Pei® and some awesome Chinese movies.
Here are some of my favorite movies to watch to bring in the Chinese New Year:
1. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
2. Farewell My Concubine
3. Curse of the Golden Flower
4. Police Story
5. House of Flying Daggers
6. Fist of Fury
8. Once Upon a Time in China
9 & 10 aren't Chinese movies and are kind of cheesy but... I love them.
9. Big Trouble in Little China
10. Flower Drum Song
This is my Chinese New Year celebration!
Do you have any traditions you celebrate?
Do you watch any foreign language films?
Be sure to swing by and say hi to Tai Pei®. Be sure to especially visit their Facebook page and visit the Red Envelope tab. There's a coupon and will be there until they run out. Also, be sure to watch your local paper and other publications on February 8th for aTai Pei® coupon!