Sunday, February 14, 2010

Let's make it a combo - Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year

Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year on the same day is quite exciting to me!  It made for an easy and fun decision on what to cook for dinner.  I really don't cook much Chinese food at all, so I went with some simple basics - Five Spice Grilled Chicken and Salt and Pepper Shrimp - from Sam the Cooking Guy.  I've mentioned Sam before in a previous post, but again I must say, he has a special place in my heart and with a little luck, maybe I'll get to meet him one day since he lives in San Diego.  He quit a job at a drug development company to pursue a passion (which originally started out as travel and not cooking) and has now become a national celebrity with 11 Emmys, a television show, and a cookbook!  Best of all, he is still a regular guy and has simple recipes that anyone can cook.  
There were only two of us, but when I think of Chinese food, I normally think of more than one dish to share.  The first one I attempted was the Five Spice Grilled Chicken.  
This was an incredibly easy marinade (soy sauce, Chinese five spice seasoning, and brown sugar) that I made up the night before so the thighs could have a good 24 hours to absorb the flavor.  They browned up beautifully on the grill and then were completed with a shower of diced green onions.  I love fresh green onions.  They add such a brightness and contrast to most dishes.  The chicken was extremely flavorful with the traditional Chinese five spice aroma, combined with the slight crunch of the fresh green onions. 

After the chicken came off the grill, I immediately started the Salt and Pepper Shrimp.  These take just minutes to cook, so I knew the chicken would still be plenty warm when it was time to eat.  
I readied everything ahead of time - garlic, ginger, green onions, and salt and pepper - so that all I had to to was toss it into the smoking skillet.  
Once the peanut oil was steaming, I threw everything in, including the shrimp.  The shrimp and seasonings stir fried for about 3 minutes, until the shrimp took on their pink, Valentine's day hue and curled gently into themselves.  The last touch is to sprinkle them with salt and pepper and stir fry until well coated.  These morsels were juicy, bright, and fun to eat.  The shells and tails are left on, so it's a messy meal of peel and eat shrimp. 

For dessert, I let the true meaning of Valentine's Day shine.  No Chinese dessert here...just a wonderfully rich and simple chocolate cake, courtesy of a fellow San Diego blogger.  Thanks, Pierre - it was decadent!
 I hope everyone had a great Valentine's day and Happy Year of the Tiger!


  1. That chicken looks so good ! Why wasn't I invited ??!!! :)
    Thanks for trying out the chocolate cake. Don't wait till next V Day to make another one :)
    Happy New year !


  2. I should have invited you - there was PLENTY!!! :) As for the cake, I may next try a sliver with a scoop of vanilla ice cream...

  3. Pierre is totally right. That cake is to do it more often. I tried it too and LOVE IT! The chicken sounds amazing. Will have to try it, perhaps even this week as I have some Amish chicken I just bought today!