Got Thrills?

You’re planning your Chinese New Year menu, and you want to celebrate in style, but without the whole duck or whole fish preparation. Because your guests freak out when you place a duck or fish head on their plate. But this is a special tradition, and a good excuse to break out some delicious dishes that are in the spirit, if not traditional.

Here’s the menu for four:

Lychee Martini

Grilled Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

Halibut with Cucumber Salad and Soy-Mustard Dressing

Jasmine Rice with Garlic, Ginger, and Cilantro

Banana and Mango Spring Rolls with Coconut-Chocolate Ganache

Lychee Martini

Heat 1/2 C sugar and 1/2 C water in a 1-qt saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Pour into a heatproof bowl set in a large bowl of ice and cold water.  Let stand ~3 minutes.  Puree 2C canned lychees with the sugar syrup and 4T sweet and sour in a blender until smooth.  Force through a fine sieve into a bowl.  Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes and add lychee puree, 1 1/2 C vodka, and 6T Cointreau.  Shake 15 seconds and strain into Martini glasses.  Serves 4 oversized martinis.

Grilled Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

Lightly brush 2lbs sweet potatoes (cut in ½” slices), 1 red onion (cut in ½” slices), and 1oz fresh ginger with olive oil.  Season with coarse salt and pepper, and grill over direct medium heat for 10 minutes, turning halfway through.  Finely chop the ginger.    Place all in a large saucepan.  Add 6C vegetable stock, ¼t allspice, and 1/8t cayenne.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes.  Puree the soup in a blender in at least 2 batches.  Return to the pan.  Add ¼C half and half, 2T Italian parsley, and 1T frozen limeade.  Makes 7 cups.

Halibut with Cucumber Salad and Soy-Mustard Dressing

Puree 3T soy sauce, 3T rice vinegar, 1T mirin, 1T sake, 2t whole-grain mustard, and 1 garlic clove.  With the blender on, slowly pour in 6T vegetable oil and blend until smooth.  Thinly slice 1/2 of 1 cucumber, then finely julienne the other 1/2.  Julienne a 3” piece of carrot, peeled, and a 3” piece of Jicama, peeled.  Toss all the julienned vegetables together.  In a large skillet, heat 3T vegetable oil.  Add 1 shallot, sliced, and 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped, and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, ~3 minutes.  Remove and drain.

Add 4 6oz halibut filets to the skillet.  Cook over moderately high heat until browned on the bottom, ~4 minutes.  Turn and cook over moderate heat until just white throughout, ~2 minutes longer.

Spoon 1T of the soy-mustard dressing in the center of 4 plates.  Fold the cucumber slices and arrange them on the dressing.  Set the halibut filets on the cucumbers, browned sides up, and top with julienned vegetables.  Drizzle with remaining dressing.  Garnish with fried garlic and shallots, 1 long red fresh chile, toasted sesame seeds, cilantro leaves, and finely chopped chives.  Serves 4.

Jasmine Rice with Garlic, Ginger, and Cilantro

Place 1 1/2 C jasmine rice in large sieve and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear.  Drain.  Heat 2T vegetable oil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add 1/6 C ginger, peeled and finely chopped, and 2 garlic cloves, minced.  Stir until fragrant, ~30 seconds.  Add rice and stir 3 minutes.  Add 2 C low-salt chicken broth and 1/4t salt.  Sprinkle 1/2 bunch cilantro, 2” of bottom stems trimmed and discarded, tops and remaining stems coarsely chopped.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and cook until rice is tender, ~18 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes.  Fluff rice with fork.  Transfer to a bowl and serve.  Serves 4.

Banana and Mango Spring Rolls with Coconut-Chocolate Ganache

Combine 7 oz unsweetened coconut milk, 1/6 C packed brown sugar, and 3/4 t ground ginger in heavy medium saucepan.  Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat.  Add 4oz semisweet chocolate, chopped, and whisk until mixture is melted and smooth.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place 1 of 4 thawed 8” square frozen spring roll pastry wrappers on work surface in diamond shape.  Place 1 banana piece (from 1 banana, peeled and halved lengthwise) across center of wrapper, then 1 mango strips (from 1/2 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 3” long, ½” wide strips).  Fold bottom pointed corner up over fruit, then fold in sides over fruit.  Brush unfolded part of spring roll with 1/8 portion of 1 egg, beaten.  Roll up wrapper, enclosing fruit completely.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Repeat for the other 3.

Pour enough vegetable oil into a deep skillet to reach depth of 1 1/2”.  Heat oil to between 360 and 375º.  Add spring rolls to hot oil and cook until golden and crisp, turning often, ~3 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.  Place 1 spring roll on each of 4 plates, along with fresh mint sprigs.  Drizzle with ganache.  Serves 4.

Bon Appétit.

February 8th, 2016

Posted In: Thriller Recipes

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