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Chinese New Year treats

21 January 2020

Beijing Roast Duck: Plating suggestion.
It’s that time of the year again when many homes and businesses are being spruced up in time for the most important and longest event in the Chinese calendar, the Lunar New Year.

This year, the Lunar or Chinese New Year holidays are set from Jan 25-28. Traditionally, the holidays last only for three days, but since the second day of CNY falls on a Sunday this year, the statutory holiday is stretched to include the fourth day, which is Jan 28.

Nevertheless, many foreign domestic workers are not able to use up all four days as many Chinese households do a lot of entertaining on these days, and the helper is expected to help cook, and attend to the guests. Hopefully, they are either compensated for the day/s they are made to work during the holidays, or given a substitute day-off.

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But days before the holidays, many FDWs are already kept busy either doing spring cleaning or cooking endless pots of delicacies like the radish cake or the Chinese sticky rice cake which their employers traditionally give away to friends or relatives.

While cooking one tub of radish cake for the employer’s family may not be anymore difficult than preparing four dishes on a daily basis, many an FDW will swear that doing the yearly ritual over and over again is enough to leave them bone-tired. Not to mention nauseous from the pungent smell of the root crop which they have to grate endlessly into thin strips.

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But the upside is that this is also the time when many people are feeling generous, and the helper often ends up being the beneficiary of money in red packets or “lai see”, not just from their employers and family members, but also from grateful house guests.

For this issue we’re focusing on these two CNY must-have dishes, but also a special one that most people only get to partake in expensive Chinese restaurants. But trust Ednalyn Salvador, our veteran helper who works in the Peak, to make something as daunting to cook as the Peking Duck, look easy and fun to prepare and dish up. Why, she even makes her own Mandarin pancakes to wrap those succulent duck slices in!

Kung Hei Fat Choy and have fun trying out these festive treats.

Beijing Roast Duck 

(also known as “Peking Duck”)
By Ednalyn Salvador 
This is a delicious way to prepare roast duck. It is traditionally served wrapped in Mandarin pancakes along with cucumber and plum or hoisin sauce.
Our recipe is easier than many traditional methods, but still yields a delicious duck, full 

1 Peking Duck ( whole, 4-5 lbs.)
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. hot water
1 tsp. Chinese Five Spice
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp.paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 pepper
4 garlic cloves
1 green apple , quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 onion, quartered
a couple sprigs of rosemary
2 spring onion
To Serve:
• 8-10 Mandarin pancakes
• Cucumber, cut into matchstick size 
• Scallions, sliced long
• Plum sauce
• Hoisin sauce

1. Check the inside of the duck for a bag containing the neck and giblets. Remove these and save to make stock or soup later, if desired.
2. Place the duck, breast side up, on a wire rack in a roasting pan that has been lined with aluminum foil.
3. Starting at the body cavity, insert your hand between the skin and breast meat to separate them.
4. In a small bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce, and hot water. Mix to combine. Brush the mixture over the whole duck.
5. Transfer the duck from the wire rack in the roasting pan to the refrigerator and chill, uncovered, for 6-12 hours, to air dry.
6. Remove the duck from the refrigerator 2 hours before roasting, to let it come to room temperature. 
7. Stuff the cavity of the duck with garlic cloves, a quartered onion, and a couple sprigs of rosemary. You could also use lemon slices or a quartered apple. The stuffing should be discarded after cooking but the aromatics add flavor to the meat.
8. Fold in the loose skin on both ends of the duck to hold everything inside and tie the duck legs with butcher’s twine or string to truss it. Then rub the duck all over with a mix of salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
9. With your oven rack at its lowest position, preheat your oven to 350F.
10. Put in the duck and roast for 30 minutes.
11. Remove the duck from the oven and carefully flip it, breast- side down. Roast for an additional 30 minutes.
12. Remove the duck from the oven and carefully flip it again, breast-side up. Reduce the heat the heat of your oven to 250F and roast until the duck is deeply golden and the leg bones move slightly in the sockets, about 30-40 minutes. (If necessary, you can broil the duck for the last few minutes of cooking time to make the skin really crisp).
13. Remove the duck from the oven and let it rest 15 minutes before carving.
14. To carve the duck, slice vertically between the breasts, on one side of the breast bone. Continue slicing around the breast to separate it from the wing. Then slice the whole breast off the bone. Once the breast is removed from the carcass, you can slice it thinly to serve.
14. Serve the Peking Duck with Mandarin pancakes, cucumbers, green onions and plum sauce or hoisin sauce.

Mandarin Pancake:

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup hot boiling water + 20 ml for adjusting
• 3 tablespoon sesame oil or other vegetable oil.
1. In a large bowl, stir in hot water. Set aside until cool down When the dough is still hot, it can be quite sticky and hard to knead.
2. Knead until dough is smooth. Cover and let rest for 15- 20 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into 18 similar portions.

To pan-fry:
1. Take one portion out and flatten. Brush oil on the surface.
2. Then overlay with another small portion. Roll the two pieces together
3. Brush a small layer of oil on a pan (only a small amount needed) and fry over medium fire until one side is dotted with brown and then turn over and fry the other side.
4. Tear the two pieces apart when the pancake is still warm.

Radish or Turnip Cake

(from Christine’s Recipes as posted on DWC It’s All About Food)

1 kg Chinese white turnip (radish/daikon)
170 gm rice flour
4 Tbsp wheat starch 
40 gm Chinese sausage 
45 gm Chinese bacon 
55 gm Chinese dried shrimps
60 gm salted radish
2 shallots, minced
3/4 cup unsalted chicken broth
pinch of white pepper

The ingredients.

1. Blanch Chinese sausage and Chinese bacon in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes for cleaning and easy chopping. Drain well and finely diced. 
2. Peel the turnip and grate into thick strips. 
3. Soak and rinse dried shrimps. Coarsely chop them (if you buy smaller ones, you don’t need to chop them then.) 
4. Soak salted radish, rinse well and finely chop.
5. In a big bow, mix the rice flour with wheat flour well.
6. Add 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick wok, sauté Chinese sausage and Chinese bacon dices over medium heat. Toss in dried shrimps and salted radish, continue to sauté until aromatic (see picture 1). Set aside.
7. Add another 2 tablespoons of oil, sauté minced shallots. Add grated turnips. Sprinkle white pepper to taste. Pour in chicken broth, bring to a boil, cover and cook until tender and translucent (see picture 2). Remove from heat. 
8. Add rice flour and wheat starch, quickly combine all ingredients into a thick batter (see picture 3). Toss in sausages, bacons and shrimps and mix well (see picture 4).
9. Pour the mixture into a greased pan, 8-inch round. Steam over high heat with cover, about 45 to 60 minutes. Check the water level and replenish, if necessary, with boiling water. 
10. Insert a chopstick into the middle part. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked through. Let cool and refrigerate with cover for 4 hours.
11. Cut into pieces, fry both sides until golden brown. Serve hot.

Chinese Sticky Rice Cake (Tikoy)

(from Christine’s Recipes)

200 gm glutinous rice flour
70 gm wheat starch 
250 gm brown sugar in bar 
1 cup water
80 ml coconut cream
30 gm oil + a dash to grease cake mould
1 egg, whisked

1. Use a saucepan to bring 1 cup of water to boil. Add brown sugar and cook until completely dissolved. Stir in coconut cream and oil. Drain syrup through a fine sieve to make the mixture smoother. Let cool.
2. Sift glutinous rice flour and wheat flour twice beforehand. Add flour bit by bit into syrup, stirring constantly along the way, and combine well. If you’d like your batter really smooth, drain through a fine sieve once more.
3. Transfer batter to a greased cake mould. Place in a wok and steam over high heat, covered, for about 60 to 75 minutes. As the cake is very sticky, even if it’s cooked through, it still sticks to your needle/chopstick if you test it. But if you can’t taste any raw flour, it’s done. Make sure to steam the cake for enough time.
4. Let cool. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. When the cake is cold, it’s much easier to slice into thick pieces. Coat the sliced cake with whisked egg, fry on medium-low heat until both sides are brown. Serve hot.
(If you want to add a date in the middle as in the picture, do so after 15 minutes of steaming while the mixture is still soft)
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