Chinese New Year is nearly upon us. Many are already gearing up to celebrate the year of the “Wood” Horse. Beginning January 31, 2014, homes will be meticulously tidied to collect a fresh allotment of good luck. Apparently, powdered luck (both organic and free-range, of course) is dispatched but once a year, so errant sweeping on New Year’s Day isn’t recommended. Walls will be decorated in bright colours. Bright colours ward off evil spirits and bad luck. Red envelopes of lucky money will be gifted by senior married members of the family to more junior members. Consider it one generation, investing in the next.
Family will gather together for a large communal meal on New Year’s Eve. Traditional dishes include whole chicken, pork, and fish. Dishes usually carry cultural meanings.
Thai Kitchen’s #TKLucky7 campaign was designed to coincide with the lunar new year that is actually celebrated by many Asiatic cultures. It is commonly known in North America as “Chinese” New Year.
A quick synopsis: seven food bloggers were chosen from cities across Canada to come up with recipes for 7 dishes each. Recipe development was “live-tweeted,” preparing one-dish a day for seven consecutive days. Presently, we are in the waning days of the second “regional” round of voting to choose with which of our dishes we compete in the “national” round.
A Moulinex-brand food processor, valued at $150, was given away to a random voter to date.
This week, for those who vote for a dish to move onto the round that will pit bloggers against one another, a $100 CAD gift certificate to Amazon is up for grabs. So, please drop a vote!
[Update: Regional competition is now closed.]
Next Friday, New Year’s Day, the dish that is selected will compete against other cities’ bloggers’.
Whomever’s recipe gets the most votes thereafter becomes Thai Kitchen Canada’s newest “Ambassador.” The voters for the national competition are entered into draws for larger prizes, including a $1500 Air Canada gift card, a Jamie Oliver Professional Series Cookware Set valued at $1000, and a $1000 Apple gift card.
You can vote multiple times, just once per day.
A little bit of transparency?
I never thought Branding and Buzzing’s client Thai Kitchen Canada would choose me to compete. Some of my fellow competitors are professional food stylists. Others, professional food photographers. Several are published cook book authors. A number have past experience working the line in restaurants.
Me, I just love my city, Ottawa. And, the write-ups for my dishes, save for one (the rice noodle gnocchi), mention local inspirations. Two were homages to dishes I greatly enjoy tucking into when my wife and I dine out with friends.
My take on The Albion Rooms’ Scotch Eggs
My take on Lone Star Texas Grill’s Fajitas
My take on Corazon de Mais’ Tortilla Soup
My take on El Camino’s Fish Tacos
My takes on vegetarian/vegan dishes inspired by Zen Kitchen
I am participating in this challenge mostly to demonstrate I can cook under pressure. I also need the compensation to fund a larger project this year.
That said, I am very much the underdog. But, I want to always deliver my readers value, beyond chances at draws for “fabulous” prizes.
Here are two recipes for #TKLucky7 concept dishes that are Chinese New Year-friendly.
Seared Tofu Noodle Salad
What You’ll Need:
- Thai Kitchen Thin Rice Noodles
- Simply Asia Mandarin Orange Sauce
- water for boiling the noodles and dissolving the orange sauce
- extra-firm tofu (sliced 1 cm thick strips)
- oil for pan-frying and oil for emulsifying the orange sauce
- red bell pepper (sliced 1 cm thick strips)
- green onion (chopped)
- garnishes (cilantro, black sesame seeds, etc.)
- sear your extra-firm tofu slices either on a grill or in non-stick pan set to medium heat with a tsp of oil
- prepare your vinaigrette by thinning the orange sauce with water and mixing in the oil, emulsifying it
- cook your noodles as per package instructions and drain
- mix together the sliced tofu, sliced red bell pepper, chopped green onions, and noodles
- dress in vinaigrette and serve chilled
Green Curry Paste-Seared Steak Lettuce Wraps with Mandarin Orange Marinated Fennel
What You’ll Need:
- Boston lettuce
- striploin steak
- Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste
- Kitchen Fish Sauce
- Simply Asia Mandarin Orange Sauce
- water for dissolving the orange sauce
- oil for emulsifying the orange sauce
- garnishes (e.g. picked cilantro, fried onion, crushed nuts, etc.)
- marinate steak in green curry paste and fish sauce for 1 hour (or overnight)
- sear steak (at least 2 minutes/side or to desired doneness) in a thick bottomed pan set to medium-high heat and set it aside to rest
- make a vinaigrette by thinning the orange sauce with water and mixing in the oil, emulsifying it
- core and slice the head of fennel and dress it with the vinaigrette
- serve sliced steak and dressed fennel on lettuce leaves with desired garnishes
These lettuce wraps were inspired by the “Seoul Food” ($17) entree option at Oz Kafe (361 Elgin Street). My wife and I were lucky enough to partake of the “bigger plate” menu item when Jamie Stunt were still its Executive Chef. He left owner Oz Balpinar’s employ after spending 7 years in the restaurant’s tiny kitchen, establishing its reputation and training protegé Simon Bell.
The self-taught Stunt, who displayed a strong affinity for Asian cuisine during his tenure, is award-winning, earning gold at the regional Gold Medal Plates competition for the National Capital Region November 2012. He would later earn silver at the Canadian Culinary Championships February 2013 in Kelowna, BC, besting Canadian Chefs from across Canada. Both competitions raise funds for the Canadian Olympic Foundation and our athletes.
Anyhow, wish me luck!
Happy New Year!
Disclaimer: We are being sponsored by Thai Kitchen Canada for participating in the #TKLucky7 challenge and campaign. However, the experiences and opinions are our own.
Tags: Chinese New Year, featured, Oz Kafe, sponsored, Thai, Thai Kitchen Canada, TKLucky7