Last week I headed to West Los Angeles to meet up with Ling Ling for a second cooking class, this time in celebration of Chinese New Year coming up on February 16th.
Fun fact: It’s the Year of the Dog, meaning that people born this year are said to be loyal to their friends and family, honest, just, and popular in social circles.
The event was hosted by Chef Katie Chin, a film and television marketing executive turned impressive chef. She learned how to cook from her accomplished late mother (a riveting story all in and of itself) and went on to host various shows and specials, serve as a guest judge on Iron Chef America, author cookbooks, and even cooked at the White House in 2013 for the annual Easter Egg Roll.
She showed us how to create a Chinese New Year feast that’s quick and easy so that your focus is spent on company rather than hours in the kitchen.
We started with two fresh recipes: Kale with Ginger and Sweet & Spicy Green Beans. I’ve added them towards the bottom of this post so you can make them yourself!
One of my favorite tips shared by Chef Katie was to let kids in on the cooking fun by peeling ginger with a spoon. It’s easy and safe (and also works to keep adult fingers cut-free as well!).
Those two dishes were accompanied by Ling Ling’s famous potstickers and a variety of rice and noodle options, including my absolute favorite: Drunken Noodles with Chicken.
You must try these!
While we were eating, Chef Katie shared some of her favorite customs and superstitions in which she celebrates Chinese New Year. She instructed us to refrain from washing your hair so you don’t wash away good luck, do not sweep or your luck will fly out the door, and don’t even think about swearing or they will follow you throughout the year.
Gifting is also a large part of Chinese New Year — great friends with oranges or tangerines to solidify your friendship or distribute red envelopes filled with money to start the year with prosperity.
Chef Katie’s favorite custom? Stepping into new shoes on New Year’s morning to start your year off on the right foot! A woman after my own heart and a fabulous excuse to go shopping.
Without further ado, here are the two recipes I promised earlier.
Kale with Ginger
1 large bunch kale, rinsed with hard stems and center ribs removed and coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh minced ginger
2 teaspoons neutral oil, such as canola
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Blanch kale in boiling water until bright green. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to an ice bath to cool. Drain and set aside.
Sweet & Spicy Green Beans
1 pound green beans, washed and trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tablespoon neutral oil, such as canola
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon Srircha sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 green onion, green and white parts, finely chopped
Blanch the beans in boiling water until tender-crisp (about 3 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer to an ice bath to cool. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the drained green beans, Sriracha, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar and stir-fry for 1 more minute, then add the green onions and stir-fry for 30 more seconds.
Let me know in the comments below if you try these delicious dishes!