Monday, March 11, 2013

February 10th: Chinese New Year Dinner, Japanese Style

I'm not sure if many of you know, but February 10th was the Chinese New Year. And it was the Year of the Snake to be exact! So this year, it's Andi's year (even though we're the same age, but the Chinese New Year tends to switch between January and February new years).

I began by scouring a few towns for oriental markets. I ended up finding one a few exits north of me, so I got most of the things that we needed there. I of course got more common foods from Walmart (though once Will and I get our own place, we're never going to shop there).

There are some more items that are not pictured above, but what you CAN see is pork buns, sushi, beef tips, udon noodles, mochi paste, narutomaki and kameboko (it's basically surimi, the stuff you see in imitation crab), mini shrimp, and some red bean paste.

The first thing we tried to make was marumochi... it's basically just cooked rice pounded into a paste and mixed with some sugar. In oriental stores, they come as premade blocks or little round pucks. I was told you were supposed to bake them for five to ten minutes in the oven at 350 so you can later wrap them around ice cream, but... as you can see, my little mochi cake exploded. I'm not very happy about it either.

So since we failed at marumochi and having absolutely NO clue on how we were going to successfully make our Japanese desert, we moved on to rice balls, otherwise known as "onigiri" (oh-nee-gee-ree) in Japan.  Now... keep in mind that Andi and I have NEVER made any of these things, let alone onigiri. So we had to make sure we were doing this perfectly. And that included buying the correct type of rice (short or medium grain only!), which happened to be Calrose in Wal-Mart.

Calrose sticks together WONDERFULLY.

I was honestly afraid that I'd mess up the onigiri! But as you can see, it looks just fine.

And if you're wondering, what I used to make his adorable face is "nori," otherwise known as seaweed. It's the general wrapping that goes around your average rice ball and sushi.

Our next step was to create some red bean paste buns... And I have discovered that red bean paste is an acquired taste. While the bread is absolutely delicious, I don't think I'll put the paste in there next time. I'm thinking about a cream cheese filling, or just normal cheese... Will says I should put cheese and sausage in there for him. Then he walked away daydreaming about it, going "mmm."

The recipe for these delicious buns below is here. Now, the recipe is in grams, but I managed to convert the measurements into U.S. measurements. Unfortunately, it's not exactly accurate. At least with the flour. I can't remember how much more flour I had to put in, so you'll have to test it for yourself. But whenever I make these mouth-watering buns again, I'll be sure to post the recipe again with the correct flour measurements!

Below, you can see what is, of course, sushi! But there's no raw fish involved. It seems to be hard around here to buy sushi with the raw fish. But nonetheless, it was amazing (and it's honestly the only kind of sushi I'll touch).

My brother decided he'd try wasabi on these a few hours before dinner. I tried to warn him that it was hotter than anything he'd ever had before and that he needed only half a pea size or else his mouth would be on fire. He didn't listen. He put half a teaspoon on there, and needless to say... his mouth was on fire. His voice even went high-pitched before he chugged down a bunch of soda and water. Even ten minutes later, he was still complaining about how hot his mouth was.

So, lesson here is... listen to me when I say wasabi is super hot! My brother LOVES spicy things and is very used to those kinds of foods... But he's never had Japanese spicy.

I bet you're wondering what this is. Well, it's narutomaki and kameboko, two types of fish cakes made of surimi. Surimi is what they use in imitation crab, so if you like that, you'll like the narutomaki. The kameboko has a slightly odd taste to it, so it wasn't really for me. But putting narutomaki in your ramen or stir fry is absolutely amazing.

Once done with all of the hard stuff, we moved on to cooking the meat--orange chicken and barbecued beef tips. Now... barbecue isn't Japanese, but we thought it would taste great. Especially with narutomaki and shrimp fried rice involved.

That's Will below. He just got home from a 12 hour shift at work, so he's a bit tired! Nevertheless, he managed to help cut up the chicken for dinner. He's such a good man!

The recipe for the orange chicken was pretty easy. Just fry up some chicken in tempura and then pour the orange chicken sauce over it for some absolutely delicious chicken! Recipe for the sauce is right HERE

And on the table is all of our delicious foods! At the very top in the bowl is some barbecued beef tips. To the right of it is the same thing, but on skewers for easy eating. Below is shrimp filled rice balls, kamaboko and narutomaki, a big dish of shrimp fried rice, and orange chicken. Then finally, we have our pork steamed buns, tuna filled rice balls, red bean paste buns (though honestly, I think next time I'll just put cheese as the filling or leave them plain), and in the middle, we have our non-fish sushi, which actually wasn't that bad at all!

My delicious plate of food. Needless to say, I did NOT finish it all. Way too filling!

Matschi REALLY enjoyed the red bean buns the most!

As did Bee. So who do you think we fed all of the leftover buns to?

Family sitting for the meal. Will certainly looks ready to eat!

And now... we. Are. FULL.

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