A Chinese feast

Table full of Chinese foodThe weekend of Chinese New Year, I wanted to do traditional Chinese New Year food. However, I didn’t want to work too hard at it. I thought about making dumplings (AKA potstickers or gyoza), but I’ve done that before, and while they came out delicious, it was a LOT of work. Even in my pre-gluten-free days, when I could just buy wonton wraps at the store, dumplings were labour intensive. When you factor in having to make all the wraps as well as the fillings, then form and fry/steam the dumplings, it becomes a huge undertaking. So that was out.

Next, I thought about making gluten-free barbecue pork buns, which I have also done before using more or less the recipe linked to in this sentence (I followed the directions for the bun part but made up my own low-FODMAP filling), but that too was pretty fiddly. I also rejected the idea of making turnip cake because I’d have to go to the Asian grocery store to look for rice flour and daikon, and besides, my husband is allergic to shrimp and lap cheong, with its inimitable taste, is typically not gluten-free.

The more I researched, though, the more it became clear the Chinese New Year foods that most readily popped to mind for me were far from the only ones. In fact, it seemed like almost any Chinese dish could be considered a New Year dish. So I decided to do what was tasty, easy and would create enough leftovers that I wouldn’t have to cook for a few days. On the weekend menu: kung pao chicken, gingery tofu vegetable stir-fry, mu shu duck, steamed aromatic fish, almond cookies, and “ants climbing a tree” (Sunday lunch). Yeah! Continue reading

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Gingery tofu and vegetable stir fry

Vegetable stir fry in a large glass bowlWhen I was growing up, one of my favourite vegetable-heavy dishes was a stir-fry my mother made using broccoli, shrimp, tofu and ginger. The broccoli was delicately infused with the flavour of ginger and the sea, making it a comfort food that was actually healthy. When I grew up, I learned to make it too, albeit not quite as well as my mother. Unfortunately, I fell in love with a man who’s allergic to shrimp and shellfish, and more recently, I developed irritable bowel syndrome and found broccoli disagrees with me because it’s high in FODMAPs.

It took awhile but I’ve since developed this tofu vegetable dish as an alternative. Sometimes I add thinly sliced chicken breast too, if I want it to be a main dish, but more often I make it as a vegetable side dish. It’s not quite what I remember but it hits the same notes – soft, saucy, gingery, mildly salty. It’s also a dish that’s easy to throw together by feel, without having to measure ingredients, so the quantities given here are approximate. Make it to your own taste. Continue reading

Gung Haggis Fat Choy!

Various Chinese dishes on tableI first heard the term “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” when I was a teenager in Western Canada. It was coined by “Toddish McWong,” a Vancouver student of Chinese descent whose university asked him to help out with their Robbie Burns Day celebrations. Since then, Gung Haggis Fat Choy has, according to McWong himself, “come to represent a celebration of combining cultures in untraditional ways.” And that is what this blog, my family and I are all about.

Plate of meatloaf and vegetablesI’m a Canadian of Japanese descent and my husband is a Canadian of Scottish descent. We now live in England. We have two daughters, aged one and four, and I just went back to working full time after the New Year. Since I started working, I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a ton of cooking on the weekend and freezing some of the output so we can have dinner on the table quickly when I get home after work during the week. Since I love trying different types of international cooking and since I want to teach my older daughter about the world, I had the idea of doing a particular country’s food and tying it in with related educational activities every weekend. Continue reading