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Byline: Natalie Haughton Food Editor

Celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year - lunar year 4704, the Year of the Dog - on Sunday with a special home-cooked feast with family and friends. The 15-day festival is a time to honor age-old traditions and look to the future.

``The Chinese New Year is about compassion, sharing and togetherness,'' notes Ying Chang Compestine, a native of Wuhan, China. She is the food editor of Body & Soul magazine and the author of three Chinese cookbooks along with eight children's books, including ``The Runaway Rice Cake'' and ``D Is for Dragon Dance,'' both about this time of great celebration in China.

``It's a very big party for children. You clean the house, get a haircut and wear new clothes.

``When I was growing up during the Cultural Revolution, food was rationed and limited in China,'' says Compestine, whose two older brothers still live there. But her family always had a feast to celebrate the New Year. They invited friends and shared dishes such as soup, dumplings, chicken (either kung pao or stir-fried), stir-fried mixed vegetables, noodles and rice cakes. ``The older adults always gave money to the children in a red envelope,'' a tradition of the holiday.

Her grandmother did most of the cooking because her mother, a doctor, didn't have much time to spend in the kitchen. But when she did, she turned out healthy dishes.

These days, Compestine, her husband and their 11-year-old son gather friends in their home in Lafayette, Calif., to share in the festivities. Some help cook the big feast, while others might bring a dish to symbolize good luck.

While it's traditional to serve 10 to 12 dishes - and Compestine has in the past when she's entertained 60 people - these days her feast consists of six to eight dishes for a group of eight to 10 guests. ``Make an even number of dishes, as an odd number is not good luck,'' she points out.

``We just make sure we have enough food for everyone. I serve buffet style, as I find that the easiest, especially with children.''

Compestine, who came to the United States 20 years ago to attend graduate school, has been a spokeswoman for Maggi Taste of Asia products, manufactured by Nestle, for the past 2 1/2 years.

``If I have a choice, I use fresh ingredients,'' says Compestine, ``but Maggi products are really suited to cooking Chinese food at home without spending hours in the kitchen.'' She offers several of her recipe adaptations for the Chinese New Year.

For home cooks, Panda Express restaurant chefs also share recipes for celebrating - among them Firecracker Beef (substitute chicken breast or shrimp for the beef, if desired), Garlic Shrimp and Shrimp With Pan-Fried Noodles. If you don't feel like cooking, call the restaurant and pick up food to go at one of the 170 Panda Express locations in the Southern California area, where they'll be featuring Firecracker Chicken and other popular menu selections.

So here's a hearty ``Gung Hay Fat Choy,'' wishing you a year of good fortune, good eating, old friends and new traditions.

Natalie Haughton, (818) 713-3692



1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 pound flour noodles, cooked

1/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons sliced bamboo shoots

2 tablespoons sliced fresh mushrooms

2 tablespoons shredded Napa cabbage

2 tablespoons sliced water chestnuts

1 ounce baby corn

1 ounce broccoli florets

1 ounce snow peas

1 tablespoon chopped green onion

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons chicken broth

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Shao Hsing cooking wine

Dash sesame oil

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water

Heat oil in wok until hot. Add dry, cooked flour noodles to wok. Pan-fry noodles until browned and then lightly flatten against wok bottom. Fry until crispy and golden brown. Lift and drain off extra oil, reserving 4 tablespoons. Remove noodles to serving platter.

Heat 2 tablespoons reserved oil in wok until hot. Add shrimp and cook 1 minute. Add bamboo shoots, mushrooms, Napa cabbage, water chestnuts, baby corn, broccoli florets and snow peas. Stir-fry until crisp-tender. Remove and drain; set aside.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons reserved oil in wok until hot. Add green onion and ginger. Stir-fry until fragrant. Add chicken broth, salt, wine and sesame oil. Bring to a boil and add shrimp and vegetables. Slowly stir in cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly, until sauce is clear and thickened. Remove and pour over pan-fried noodles. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Shared by Panda Express.


1/2 pound lean ground pork OR beef

2 tablespoons seasoning sauce (Maggi)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon sesame oil

4 large Napa cabbage leaves (about 5 ounces)

4 fresh shiitake OR oyster mushrooms, stems removed and finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped leeks (white part only)

1 tablespoon peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon cooking rice wine OR sherry

1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce (Maggi Taste of Asia brand preferred)

1/4 teaspoon ground black OR white pepper

40 round (gyoza) dumpling wrappers OR square wonton wrappers


2 tablespoons canola oil

Combine pork, seasoning sauce, lemon juice and sesame oil in a large bowl; set aside. Remove stems from cabbage leaves; discard stems. Finely chop cabbage leaves and mix into pork mixture. Stir mushrooms, leeks, ginger, rice wine, chili sauce and pepper into pork mixture, mixing well.

Place 1 dumpling wrapper on work surface. Lightly brush edges with cold water. Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons pork mixture into center of wrapper; fold wrapper in half and pinch edges to seal. Place on a floured plate. Repeat with remaining wrappers and pork mixture. Cover wrappers and finished dumplings with moist paper towels to prevent drying.

Combine 1 tablespoon canola oil with 1/4 cup water in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place 1/2 of dumplings closely together in one layer in skillet; cover. Cook, without disturbing, 5 to 6 minutes or until dumplings puff up and are slightly browned on bottom. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil, 1/4 cup water and dumplings. Serve immediately with Mango-Ginger Salsa (recipe follows). Makes 40 dumplings.

NOTE: Make the filling ahead of time. It will keep in the refrigerator for two days or in the freezer up to two weeks.


1 pound boneless tender beef steak

1 1/2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 1/2 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon sugar

3/4 cup cold water

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares

1 onion, chunked and separated

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves

1 tomato, chunked

Hot cooked rice

Cut beef into thin slices, then into 1-inch squares. Coat beef with a mixture of 1 1/2 tablespoons EACH cornstarch and soy sauce mixed with garlic; let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce and 4 teaspoons cornstarch, sugar and water; mix well.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add beef and stir-fry 1 minute; remove. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same pan. Add bell pepper and onion; stir- fry 2 minutes. Stir soy sauce mixture; pour into pan. Add beef and basil; cook, stirring, until sauce starts to boil and thicken. Add tomato; cook, gently stirring, 1 minute. Serve with rice. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From Kikkoman.


3 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce

8 small, dry, whole red chili peppers OR 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (OR to taste)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon cooking rice wine OR dry sherry

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound thinly sliced beef tri-tip OR sirloin tip, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 EACH green, red and yellow bell peppers, cut into 1-inch dice

1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

1/2 cup chicken broth

Mix black bean garlic sauce, chili peppers, soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, cornstarch, sugar and sesame oil together in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large wok (or nonstick skillet) until very hot. Add meat slices and quickly cook over high heat, turning once, until meat is cooked on both sides; about 2 minutes. Add bell peppers and onion to skillet and cook, stirring, 2 minutes longer. Pour broth and sauce mixture into wok and cook, stirring constantly, 2 more minutes or until sauce has thickened and is bubbling. Serve hot with fried rice or chow mein. Makes 4 (1 1/2-cup) servings.

Shared by Panda Express.


3/4 cup sweet & sour sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

1 clove garlic, pressed

4 boneless chicken thighs

2 boneless chicken breast halves, cut in half crosswise

Nonstick cooking spray

Combine sweet & sour sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup and garlic; remove and reserve 1/4 cup mixture. Pour remaining mixture over chicken in a large plastic food storage bag. Press air out of bag; close top securely. Turn over several times to coat pieces well. Refrigerate 1 hour, turning bag over once.

Place chicken, skin side down, on rack of a broiler pan sprayed with cooking spray; discard marinade. Broil chicken 4 inches from heat source 8 minutes, brushing with reserved sauce mixture once. Turn chicken over; brush with sauce mixture. Cook 5 minutes longer, or until chicken is no longer pink in center, brushing with remaining sauce mixture after 3 minutes. To serve, slice chicken and arrange on a platter. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From Kikkoman.

Foods bring good luck

When compiling your Chinese New Year menu, keep in mind that many foods carry special symbolism, and serving them in festive creations can bring good fortune to your table.

--Dumplings and potstickers convey family togetherness and good luck.

--All kinds of noodles symbolize long life. The longer, the better - so don't cut them.

--Chicken symbolizes happiness as well as family unity.

--Peanuts and green beans both stand for longevity, while mixed vegetables are served for family harmony.

--The word for ``shrimp'' sounds like the word for ``laughter'' in Chinese, so eating shrimp is associated with joy and happiness.

--Oranges and tangerines symbolize wealth and prosperity.

- N.H.


5 photos, box


(1 -- cover -- color) Fine China

Celebrate Chinese New Year with a festive feast from your kitchen

(2 -- color) From left: Golden Egg Flower Corn Soup, Tomato Beef Stir-Fry With Basil and Sweet & Sour BBQ Chicken.

(3 -- color) Shrimp With Pan-Fried Noodles

(4 -- color) New Year Dumpling Delight

(5 -- color) Firecracker Beef


Foods bring good luck (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Jan 24, 2006

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