Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Happy Chinese New Year of the Ox / Bourbon Chicken


Kung Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday is the start of the Year of the Ox.
Think of it as a second chance to make - and KEEP - New Year's resolutions!
The festivities last until the full moon rises, about two weeks from now.
Your behaviour on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the year.
No pressure.

There are many traditions observed over the New Year period:
    •    Decorate your house with apricot and peach blossoms,
                 symbols of new beginnings.
    •    For happiness and wealth eat persimmons.
    •    Do not cut your hair or use sharp knives or scissors on New Year’s Day
                 as you may cut off good fortune.
    •    Wear red to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune.
    •    Give red envelopes to friends and family for good luck and prosperity.

There are also food traditions and meanings:
Traditional dishes are steamed rice pudding, long noodles, and dumplings
Uncut noodles is a symbol of longevity
Fish and chicken are symbols of prosperity
Oranges and tangerines will give you luck, wealth, good health, and a long life

Many people avoid meat on the first day to bring good luck in the New Year.
Day seven is the birthday of human beings. Long noodles (for longevity) and raw fish (for success) are traditionally eaten on that day.
On the 13th day, people eat rice congee and mustard greens to settle their stomachs.
The 14th day is spent getting ready for the Lantern Festival and eating leftovers.

Covid-19 has brought changes to our lives over the past year.
One of the simple pleasures of being a senior is going to a mall for a bit of mall walking, doing some shopping, maybe seeing a movie and enjoying a meal at the food court.
I believe that food courts are so much better than restaurants.
We don’t have to choose a particular type of food, but can enjoy Chinese and Italian food at the same time.
Does it get any better than that!

Our local mall has a Chinese outlet next to a Cajun one, and they seem to be operated by the same family, whose members could often be found cheerfully handing out samples of Bourbon Chicken in pre-Covid times.
It is actually a Cajun dish named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
Whatever… it’s delicious and easy, so we can enjoy it, even during the pandemic.


Don’t have boneless, skinless chicken breasts? This recipe also works with pork.

If you want more of a kick, add more bourbon.

If you want a thicker sauce, double the cornstarch water mixture.

This recipe makes enough for two, but it’s easy to increase if you're feeding the family.
Don’t worry about the kiddies - the alcohol burns off.
If you’re cooking for more than two people fry the chicken in batches and remove the fried pieces to a bowl. If the chicken is crowded it won't brown as nicely.
Return the browned chicken to the pan before adding the sauce.

                        Bourbon Chicken

Cut into 1-inch cubes
two chicken breasts (about 10 ounces)

Place in a small bowl
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon bourbon

Place in a large skillet
1 tablespoon canola oil
Heat and add the chicken.
Sauté until fully cooked and browned.
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the bourbon sauce to the chicken and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

While the chicken is simmering, place in a small bowl
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
Stir together and slowly add the mixture to the sauce.
Stir frequently until it thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Garnish with
sesame seeds and chopped green onions, if desired

Serve immediately with rice or pasta and vegetables.

If you’d rather not cut the chicken, here’s an easy variation that feeds four.

                        Bourbon Chicken

Place in a large skillet
3 tablespoons oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
Remove garlic and onion from skillet with a slotted spoon.
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Brown on both sides.
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 tablespoons bourbon
salt and pepper to taste
the fried garlic and onion
Stir all together.
Cover and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes, until the chicken juices run clear.

Garnish with
sesame seeds and chopped green onions, if desired

Serve immediately with rice or pasta and vegetables.