Somehow, we've arrived at the start of another new year. This is my second year spending Lunar New Year away from my family, and I know I'm not alone in celebrations looking a bit different this year. So I thought I'd put together a menu to bring a little holiday spirit to your home, perfect for a feast of one (or two, if you're feeling generous—but once you take a taste, you might not want to share). I'm making three of my favorite no-fuss dishes: a refreshing smashed cucumber salad, a nostalgic dace fish fried rice, and my favorite umami-packed mapo tofu recipe.
It's odd to celebrate a holiday of togetherness apart; but until we meet again, the taste of home will have to do. Enjoy!
1 pound cucumbers
2 cloves minced garlic
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp black vinegar
1 tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 clove minced garlic
Chili oil to taste
Pinch of ground, roasted Sichuan pepper
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Cut cucumbers into pieces and then lengthwise.
Lay cucumbers cut side down and smash with blade of cleaver or large knife to separate seeds from the cucumber, slice into bite size pieces.
Scatter salt and sugar over the cucumbers and set aside for at least 15 minutes while it lightly pickles.
Drain excess liquid well.
Combine all ingredients to make the dressing.
Toss cucumbers in sauce and serve, garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds.
1 cup uncooked rice or 3-4 cups cooked rice
1 can Eagle Coin dace fish with black bean
2-3 scallions, sliced, whites and greens separated
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Cut dace fish into small bite size pieces
Fry dace fish with its oil in a wok or pan over medium/high heat until fragrant
Add scallion whites, followed by rice, making sure to separate the grains of rice.
Add beaten eggs to the pan and continue frying, adding fish sauce, salt and sugar until the flavors are evenly distributed. Make sure to taste for seasoning.
Serve and garnish with cilantro and scallions.
Optional toppings include furikake and my personal favorite, a heaping mound of salmon roe.
300g tofu cut into cubes (I prefer the texture of softer tofu but regular works as well)
1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms (dried is important as it has much more concentrated umami flavor than fresh)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
2 tbsp Doubanjiang (fermented fava (broad) bean paste)
2 tbsp Sichuan Chili Crisp
3 tbsp chili oil (we recommend just taking it off of the top of your SCC!)
1 tbsp preserved black beans
1/2 cup stock or bone broth (you can also substitute the water used for soaking shiitakes)
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
1 pinch ground roasted Sichuan pepper (roasting right before grinding releases maximum flavor)
3 scallions, whites cut in 1 inch pieces, greens thinly sliced
Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water until rehydrated and soft enough to pulse in a food processor or chop into very small pieces, set aside. I sometimes add a splash of soy sauce in the water at this point to give the mushrooms extra flavor)
Boil tofu briefly in salted water, use a colander if you’d like to keep it from breaking, set aside. This is so that the cubes have a better texture and retain their shape more during cooking.
Heat up a basic chili oil in a hot wok (if you don't have any on hand, just scoop some off of the top of a jar of Sichuan Chili Crisp!), add minced garlic and ginger and fry until fragrant. You can also use regular oil if you want it less spicy.
Add mushroom, doubanjiang, Sichuan Chili Crisp, fermented black beans and whole Sichuan pepper, and fry quickly to avoid burning
Add stock and bring to boil, add scallion whites, slide tofu into wok and stir gently with a rubber spatula to prevent it from breaking, let the stock reduce for about five minutes. Then, add cornstarch mixture and stir in gently until sauce thickens.
Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle liberally with scallion greens and a generous pinch of ground roasted Sichuan pepper. Serve while hot with rice. Vegan Mapo tofu doesn't store well because of the binding starch in the sauce, so try to eat it all right away, which shouldn't be a problem!