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Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Gong Xi Gong Xi Gong Xi Fa Cai! (part 1)

Being 16913km from home means I can't celebrate the New Year in the usual way (hanging out at a relative's house, eating and drinking until my stomach splits, collecting some Ang Pao - red envelopes containing money - and then rolling home.) So I invited 25 of my nearest and dearest friends in London over for a feast so extravagant it put Empress Dowager Cixi's marble boat to shame.

Yu Sang (New Year salad)

For best results, use the mandolin shredding attachment on a food processor. It's fun and it will save you a lot of time.

What you need

1 daikon (chinese white radish), peeled
1 bag of organic carrots, washed
2 cucumbers
1 bag of crunchy noodles (in Australia, Chang's crunchy noodles - in London I think they are called flour noodles)
Fried shallots (available in all good Chinese grocers. I put these on EVERYTHING)
1 jar of japanese ginger (gari), drained - get the bright red ones in thin strips, not the light pink ones you get with sushi
a few big handfuls of roasted peanuts chopped
1 bunch of coriander, chopped
3 lemons or limes or a mixture of both
sesame seeds

for the dressing
equal parts of vegetable oil and asian sesame oil
add sugar to taste, mix with a fork and add more if needed
salt to taste
a few shakes of white pepper
a few shakes of five-spice powder
lemon juice

Run the daikon, carrots and cucumber through the food processor.
Place in separate containers and cover with water until close to serving time.
Drain ginger.

Later on...

Drain and squeeze out excess water from daikon, carrots and cucumber. On a big tray, arrange daikon, carrots, ginger, coriander, peanuts, sesame seeds and cucumber in an aesthetically pleasing fashion.
Right before serving time, get the packet of noodles and crush it. This is very satisfying.
Pour the broken noodles and fried shallots over the top.
Pour the dressing over the salad.

Now for the fun bit.
Armed with chopsticks, all your guests have to toss the salad together - the more frenzied the better!
Once the tossing frenzy has died down add a little more lemon or lime and sesame oil.

Serves about 25 people.

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