This being the Chinese Year of the Horse, I was invited to join a group in Chinatown for a very late Sunday lunch. So many dishes appeared I lost count but recall something with vegetables and scallops, a beef dish, sautéed Chinese broccoli, a sweet and sour offering, noodles, a good rice dish dotted with tiny pieces of ham and laced with peas and more.
People born in the year of the horse are supposedly animated, active, energetic and love crowds. They become independent early (the way foals can walk minutes after birth) and are said to be both good communicators and great wits.
Although I once met the great Secretariat and shook his hoof (so to speak), he didn’t tell jokes but went out to the race course and won the Belmont stakes. It would have been impossible to ignore that horse or the way he oozed self-confidence although I didn’t find him especially witty (but then again, I don’t speak fluent horse.)
A-list names born in the year of the horse include Sandra Day O’Connor, Cynthia Nixon, Leonard Bernstein, Rembrandt, Oprah and Harrison Ford. Emulate whom you will.
If you want to celebrate your own lunar New Year, serve Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce for its beautiful, dark green color and good nutritional value.
10 ounces Chinese broccoli (gai lan)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 slice ginger (about 1/2-inch thick)
3 tablespoons chicken broth or water
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (hit the Chinese grocery aisle)
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry (sherry is fine)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Wash the Chinese broccoli. Cut off the ends and cut into pieces about two inches long.
In a large saucepan, add enough water to cover the broccoli. Add the salt, baking soda and ginger. Bring to a boil.
While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the sauce. Combine the chicken broth or water, oyster sauce, rice wine or dry sherry and sugar. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn the heat down and keep warm while blanching the broccoli.
Add the Chinese broccoli to the boiling water. Cook until the stalks are tender but crisp (3 – 4 minutes). Rinse in cold running water. Drain.
Pour the sauce over the broccoli and serve.
Kung hei fat choy! Happy Chinese new year! Whinny.