In case you were wondering, the Chinese New Year is determined by the lunar calendar. Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice of December 21. Therefore, on the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year can be as early as January 21st or as late as February 20th.
Yeah, that’s about as clear to me as determining when Easter Sunday is celebrated each year. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon date, based on mathematical calculations, that falls on or after March 21st. If the Full Moon happens on a Sunday, Easter is celebrated the following Sunday. All I can say is thank you Lord for calendars and people who are smarter than me to figure all this out.
This year we celebrate the year of the Ox. The Ox is the second animal of the Chinese Zodiac. According to folklore, the Jade Emperor decided that the order of the animals would be determined by the order in which they arrived at his party. The Ox had agreed to give the Rat a ride to the party. Just as they both arrived together at the door, the Rat jumped from the back of the Ox and ran ahead, thus becoming the first in the Zodiac calendar.
The Ox is a highly esteemed animal in Chinese culture. They have an important role in the development of Chinese agriculture. The Ox is revered as hardworking and honest. In the terms of yin and yang, the Ox is Yang.
It’s odd to look back and realize it’s been a year sine we’ve been able to eat at a Chinese Restaurant. While some restaurants in our area have remained open despite the Governor’s orders to close, others have gone from take out to dine outside and back to take out, doing their best to survive. However; for reasons I don’t understand, none of the Chinese Restaurants have reopened beyond delivery and curbside service. Not even during the short periods of approved dine-in and patio dining. I’m not sure why. I’d hate to think it’s out of fear. While Covid-19 may have originated in China, it’s not the fault of the Chinese people. I hope their businesses can survive and look forward to the day when we can sit down inside our favorite Chinese eatery and enjoy an assortment of delicious dishes.
In the meantime, if we want Chinese food that doesn’t come in a paper container, we can cook it at home. Happy Year of the Ox everyone!
Fiery Beef Stir-Fry over Sticky Rice
4 Garlic Cloves
1/2 large Red Onion
2/3 cup Baby Carrots
1-1/2 lbs Beef Round Steak, sliced paper thin
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
Black Pepper to taste
1-1/2 teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes or to taste
2 tablespoons Toasted Sesame Seeds
Peel garlic, crush and set aside. Peel onion, dice and set aside. Chop carrots into small pieces, set aside. Clean leek, trim end. Slice leek bulb into rounds, quarter rounds and break apart. Set aside.
Trim excess fat from the steak. Pound steak with a meat mallet. Slice into paper-thin strips. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, and red onion. Stir in the black pepper, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, leeks and carrot. Once the vegetables and sauce are mixed well, add meat.
With clean hands, work marinade and meat together well. Transfer to a gallon zip-lock bag. Seal, cover and place flat in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Since the stir-fry beef will cook very quickly, have the sticky rice ready for serving before cooking the meat.
Sticky Rice for Serving
2 cups White Rice
2-1/4 cups Water
1 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Butter
Rinse the rice until water runs clear.
Add rice to the pot, then add water, and dot the butter on top (or olive oil on top). Lock the lid in place, select rice setting, white rice and press start. Cooker will pressurize, then cook for 12 minutes.
Let valve release naturally with cooker on “warm” for 5 minutes. Turn cooker off, open release valve. Leave rice in pot until ready to serve.
When ready to stir-fry the meat, drizzle the bottom half of a wok with cooking oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Dump all of the meat, vegetables and marinade at once, and cook turning constantly. The meat will be cooked in about 5 or 6 minutes.
To serve, spread hot rice out on a serving platter. Ladle meat over rice, then pour pan juices over the entire dish.