Friday, February 23, 2007

Name your dish for Chinese New Year cooking - Stir fry scallops and asparagus with ginkgo-代代平安

During Chinese New Year, restaurants usually like to name their dishes to make it festive and symbolize good luck, prosperity and peace. For example,

八宝盒 -Eight Treasures - usually assortment of seafood and vegetables in a beancurd
风舞九天,大展鸿图 -Phoenix Dance - usually braised sharks fin with crab roe
金玉满堂 -Gold Everywhere - usually some egg-fried rice dish with shrimp, and crabmeat
年年高升 -typically a festive goodie "nian gao" 年糕 , meaning "Promotion every year"
富贵有余 -a fish dish; 鱼 and 余 both pronounced "yu" ; with the latter meaning "abundance/excess"
一 路发财 -a dish that often contains black moss vegetable/发菜; 菜 and 财 pronounced "cai" and latter means "money or rich"


Restaurant owners know Chinese love these, so in doing such naming, they hope festive dishes can bring in more diners and improve their business.

What would you name this dish?

Can you see the scallops -带子? I shall call it 代代平安 (Peace and Harmony for Generations - 代 and 带 pronounced the same, as "dai")

I want to use this dish and wish everyone peace and harmony on this day of human/people's birthday (人日, 7th day of Chinese New Year).

Stir fry scallops and asparagus with ginkgo-代代平安 (serves 3-4)
Ingredients:
-8 giant scallops quartered
-10-12 stalks of asparagus, cleaned and cut into finger lengths
-1cup button mushrooms and 1cup straw mushrooms
-3-4oz fresh ginkgo nuts
-1 small piece ginger, sliced thinly (Note: I wanted to taste the full natural burst of flavors from scallops, asparagus, and ginkgo, so I kept the "seasoning" part simple by only adding slices of ginger to zest up the whole dish)
-some chicken broth or water

Method:
1.Heat some oil in the frying pan
2.Add the ginger and fry till aromatic
3.Add in scallops, and fry till scallop changes color (meaning it's cooked). Dish out and set aside
4.Add in asparagus, mushroom, and gingko nuts and fry for about 1-2mins. Add in broth or water
5.When simmering, add back the scallops and stir fry quicky for another 1min to mix well
6. Serve


With the asparagus 芦笋, can also name 事事顺心 (笋 and 顺 pronounced "shun" altogether)
With these ginkgo nuts that are yellow/golden, can be 金玉满堂(Gold Everywhere) too!

The special ingredient I've used here is ginkgo nuts. Ginkgo nuts are commonly used in many luxurious/fine-dining Chinese vegetarian restaurants because these nuts are considered expensive ingredients (due to labor intensiveness to crack the hard shell of each nut, removing the thin skin, and removing the young shoot that is usually bitter). So, usually what you eat is just the sweet flesh of ginkgo nuts. By using ginkgo, any simple vegetarian dish remains vegetarian and can be charged at a premium. Can you recall in the last gingko dessert you have eaten, how many gingko nuts did you have in that bowl, in proportion to the white fungus and beancurd skins ?

Where can you find a dish with such GENEROUS servings of scallops, GENEROUS servings asparagus and GENEROUS servings gingko nuts?

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