Celebrate the Year of the Dragon…with a recipe

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Last Updated on June 4, 2015 by Chef Mireille

Happy Chinese New Year!!

I consider myself blessed to live in the most global city in the world. For someone who loves global flavors, it’s a culinary paradise.  I can read a cookbook from any country in the world and although it may take me a little time to find where to buy it, I can get all the ingredients and make any recipe.  Everything can be found within the 5 borough of New York – you just have to know where! I even found delicious Malaysian nutmeg candies…which has become one of my addictions!

I remember when I was going to school in New Mexico, I hadn’t had any plantain for months and I was craving some fried plantain.  This was not something available ever, in our dining hall. I went to the supermarket with my roommate, who was from New Orleans and used to varied foods, growing up in that culinary city.  She had a car and we went to every supermarket we could find, in search of plantain.  A week later, we finally found some in an International Market and they were outrageously priced at 1.99/lb. when I was used to buying them at 8/$1.  Needless to say, on a student’s budget, even when we finally found them, this is not something we could afford to buy often.

I may never have been to India, Ghana or Indonesia – but I can still find fresh curry leaves and paneer, Palm Wine and gari & Kecap Manis and shrimp paste to make authentic recipes. I haven’t yet had the chance to get to Ireland, China or Thailand, but I can still get authentic bangers, dried tiger lillies and galangal.

Every country’s independence is celebrated in New York, from India to Columbia to Greece.  Everybody gets a parade. Today, we will be celebrating the Chinese New Year.  Chinatown will be vibrant with lanterns everywhere. Children are happy to eat their New Year candy.  I am celebrating the start of the Year of the Dragon, by participating in another Blogging Marathon.  This is Day 1 of 7 days of paneer recipes!

While I hate tofu, I love paneer, which is an Indian unaged cheese that is used widely in India, which has a large vegetarian population.  You can find paneer in Indian markets or gourmet supermarkets.  This is my favorite brand.  Some of the others are a bit too dry.

To celebrate the Chinese New Year in my global city, I created this delicious Chinese recipe, using paneer. Although in China, they would probably use tofu, I live in New York where everything is available, so I get to use the deliciousness that is paneer!  For all of you fellow tofu haters and I know you’re out there, paneer is a delicious substitute to put in your favorite Chinese recipe!

(by the way, my camera saga continues as no store seems to have the right camera battery in stock, so please bear with me…and imagine the food looking 10x better than it does) looks like I’m going to have to order it from Amazon!)

Chinese Paneer 
(I hope you can find these ingredients in your city)
6 oz. paneer, cut into large dice
1 teaspoon five spice powder
6 dried mushrooms
3 dried chiles
1/3 cup dried scallops
1 tablespoon oil
1 bell pepper, cut into strips
2 scallions, sliced
1 tablespoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
2 teaspoons honey

In a large bowl, combine dried scallops, dried mushrooms and dried chiles.

Cover with boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes.  Remove from water.  Remove stems from mushrooms and chop mushrooms and chiles. (You can reserve mushroom stems to use in soups).  Shred scallops by hand.

Sprinkle paneer with 5 spice powder.

In a seperate bowl, combine soy sauce, both cooking wines and honey. Stir to combine.
In a skillet, heat oil and brown paneer pieces.  Remove from pan.

Add peppers, mushrooms, chiles and scallion and saute 3-4 minutes, until vegetables are softened.  (you may have to add additional oil)

Add scallops and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add fried paneer pieces and soy sauce mix.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve with rice.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#12

Chef Mireille

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