Chinese New Year Eve's dinner
This is definitely the best Chinese New Year I had in U.S.
The Hubby is together with me, the most important among all. We don't have to do the long distance celebration through yahoo anymore.
I decided to cook a 6-dish reunion dinner for just the two of us, while thinking our family back home.
My budget for the dinner was US$50, and I did quite well in purchasing. ;) I will break down what each dish cost us.
Preparation in progress. No shrimp nor crab. No red meat. This was a meal that opted for healthier choices.
The cutting and cleaning part of the ingredient took me about 2 hrs. But the cooking part was only around 25 min, except for one dish that took 1.5 hrs to get done.
Tralalala~~~ our not so luxurious reunion dinner version 2010.
The most expensive dish among them. Steamed fish. This is a very important dish, as in Chinese tradition, fish is same sound as savings. A whole fish is an essential element for symbolizing a lot of savings for the coming year. The fish is a complete from from head to tail. Only the scales and inner organs were cleaned. We only ate 1/4 of the whole fish, and keep the remaining for the next day, so that I have leftover fish (equal to have savings!!) I was glad the taste turned up pretty similar to mom's recipe, except that I did not used pork belly.
Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 15 min
Ingredients: Whole red snapper (0.92lb, $7.35), sliced ginger ($0.09), sour mustard (1 pack for $0.69, only used 1/5, $0.14), sliced rehydrated shiitake + Japanese umeboshi + olive oil + soysauce (around $0.50), a steamer rack ($1.51)
Total = $9.59
Next, an herbal chicken soup. This was my first time dealing with a whole chicken.
The soup remained mild to balance up other more strong flavor dishes.
Preparation time: 15 min for the chicken, the mushroom and fuchuk required 1 hr for softening
Cooking time: 1.5 hr, first with strong heat, when boiled, turned to low heat until the chicken texture was fall off the bone
Ingredients: Whole chicken (more than 4lbs, $3.31!), chinese herbal ($1.00), fuchuk (one pack, $1.75), spring onion ($0.05)
Total = $6.11
Tips: I got the whole chicken at Vons, at only $0.77 per lb.
A colorful combination of vegetables to make the must have mixed vegetable in my family tradition. I was pretty happy with this dish too, almost similar to mom's taste. It was a very easy to cook dish too.
Preparation time: 15 min for vegetable, 10 min for chicken breast (I bought chicken breast with skin and bone, cheaper, but need more cleaning work)
Cooking time: 5 min under strong heat
Ingredients: One red bell pepper ($0.19!), half cauliflower ($0.39!), 3 celery stalks ($0.30), 4 leaves of napa cabbage ($0.12), half pack of snow pea ($0.45), half of one chicken breast ($0.50!), bit of corn starch for coating the chicken breast + soysauce ($0.05)
Total = $2.00!
Tips: These cheap and fresh vegetables can get during sales at Sprout and 99 Ranch Market, I got the chicken at Vons.
The next is a vegetarian friendly dish, very easy to make and a twist to use ready sauces. This is a combination of fresh black fungus with tomato and vegetarian ham. It is very easy for the sauce part, simply use a Sichuan Hot and Spicy Soup Base for Hot Pot by Lim Kum Kee.
Preparation time: 5 min (just clean the black fungus, cut the tomato into big cubes and diced up two slices of vegetarian ham)
Cooking time: 5 min under strong heat, no oil was used. Just heat the sauce with a little bit of water, stir the ham with the sauce for a while before adding black wood ear and tomato. Put on the lid and let it simmer for a few min. Done!
Ingredients: A pack of fresh black wood ear ($1.36), one huge tomato ($0.48), 2 slices of vegetarian soy ham ($0.80), Sichuan hot and spicy soup base (I got this during 3 for $2.00 offer, I only used 1/4 pack, $0.22)
Total = $2.86
Tips: Vegeratian soy ham is one of my top favorite among all the meat substitute. It is very multifunctions. You can use it in almost everything. I will show you other uses from time to time in the future. I got this whole big log in an Asian supermarket for only $6.60. Normally, it costs around $8.00-9.00 dollar. I prefer the pink ham and made in Taiwan, they are better quality and more flavorful.
This next dish was just a way to use up my leftover long egg plant in the refrigerator. It turned out pretty well. It was a combination of very soft tofu + egg plant + chicken breast with a sprinkle of spring onion.
Preparation time: 5 min (cut the tofu, cut the egg plant in wedge shape and diced the chicken breast)
Cooking time: 15 min under medium heat, just a bit of olive oil was used. Add in a teaspoon of black bean paste with half teaspoon of ground chili past with a bit of olive oil. Add in the eggplant then add on some water, simmer with lid for about 5 min. Add in the chicken and simmer for another 5 min. Add in the tofu for the last 5 min. Garnish with a bit of spring onion.
Ingredients: Very soft tofu (10 0z., $0.50), 1 long eggplant ($0.30), half of one chicken breast ($0.50), 1 tsp black bean paste + 1/2 tsp ground fresh chili paste (can be bought in a can in Asian supermarket, $0.30), green onion for garnishing ($0.05)
Total = $1.65!
The last one is another very vegetarian friendly dish. Super easy to prepare. If you are a mushroom lover, you will like this. I got all these three mushrooms in 99 Ranch Market.
Preparation time: 5 min (Hand tear the enoki and shimeji, sliced the eringi)
Cooking time: 5 min under strong heat, just a bit of olive oil was used. Brown a bit the eringi, then add in shimeji, the enoki only added in at the last minute. Add soysauce according to own slatiness liking. Garnish with a bit of spring onion.
Ingredients: One pack of enoki ($0.49), one pack of shimeji ($0.99), half pack of eringi or king oyster mushroom ($0.75), soysauce + green onion for garnishing ($0.10)
Total = $1.84!
Tips: This is a versatile dish. You can use all sorts of mushroom. I personally like the combination of these three because they match with each other.
Two plates of brown rice = $0.40 (we got brown rice at $0.79/lb at Sprout)
A Yam Seng with the Hubby before we started our meal.
A bottle of Chinese beer : $1.50
Grand total: $25.95!! (even after including the electricity, it will not exceed $30.00)
Not too bad huh? ^_^
We did not finish the dish. I guess I won't have to cook for the next three days. :P