It’s the Chinese New Year festivities! But why am I stuck in London now? Bleh…
I’ve never really looked forward to celebrating Chinese New Year, mainly because the catch up sessions are never really meant to be catch up sessions, but more of probing and questioning and demands that come and go – same questions are being asked every year, same old conversations, same routines. A lot of these relatives we meet once a year (not very keenly sometimes), some we basically dislike forever and would prefer not to meet again (you know who you are), and the rare few whom we really really treasure and would be happy to see at any other time of the year. So Chinese New Year does not strike me as a very happy occasion, but rather, a very stressful and rather pointless one, albeit its symbolic meanings and traditions. I’ve always thought about jetting off somewhere during the festivities if I have had a choice.
But that’s if I could do so with the ones I love, not by myself. I’ve had a lot of second thoughts about this study trip, and hated the fact that it had to be conducted during the most auspicious time of the year. Since November last year, I’ve been thinking about whether I’ll regret this choice of mine or not, but a work obligation remains an obligation and there’s no way I can get myself out of it. So here I am, in London, all by myself, trying to convince myself that I certainly didn’t make a wrong choice at all and trying to make the fullest use of my time here while blanking out the fact that it is Chinese New Year from my mind.
In a bid to try to make myself feel better, I decided to drop by the London Chinatown, apparently the Chinatown outside of Asia that holds the biggest festive celebrations during this season. It was nice to see the lion dance being performed here in foreign land, and it was super super crowded. I got myself out of there within half an hour. No point – the dumpling shops were all packed tight. I’d rather give that a miss and wait till I’m back home in Singapore.
But I still need some form of comfort here. What might help would be a post about Chinese food that I could blog about and think fondly of. Digging through my blog post reserves, I found this simple and nice recipe of Chinese stir-fry with chicken and spices, in all Sze Chuan style. I recall it was very fragrant when served, one that goes really really well with plain rice or noodles.
That’s all I have to comfort myself for now. I shall soak in these fond memories for a while more until I get home two weeks later.
Till then, and a very happy Chinese New Year to myself in London.
- Chicken breast: 2 fillets, cubed
- Dark soya sauce: 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp
- Shaoxing wine: 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp
- Baking soda: 2 tsp
- Cornstarch: 2 tsp + 1 tsp
- Ground white pepper: 1.5 tsp
- Oil: 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp
- Garlic: 4, finely chopped
- Ginger: 2 slices, finely chopped
- Dried chilli: 10, cut into 1/2″
- Sichuan peppercorns: 1 tbsp
- Light soy sauce: 3 tbsp
- Black vinegar: 2 tbsp
- Sugar: 2 tbsp
- Chicken stock: 1/2 cup
- Spring onion: 1 stalk, chopped
- Cashew nut: 1/4 cup
- Sesame oil: 1 tsp
- Marinate chicken breast with 1 tsp dark soya sauce, 1 tbsp shaoxing wine, baking soda, 2 tsp cornstarch and white pepper.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in wok. Cook chickens till lightly browned. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in wok. Add in garlic, ginger, dried chillies and sichuan peppercorns. Fry till aromatic.
- Combine 1/2 tsp dark soya sauce, light soy sauce, black vinegar, sugar, 1 tsp cornstarch, 1 tbsp shaoxing wine and chicken stock. Add sauce to wok and bring to a boil.
- Stir in chicken cubes to coat evenly.
- Stir in spring onions and cashew nuts. Cook 1min.
- Drizzle sesame oil over chicken. Serve hot with rice.
- I have substituted peanuts with cashew nuts in this recipe due to a personal preference.
If you like the dish drier, you can cut down on the sauces by about half of what is given in this recipe.
4 – 5 persons as side dish