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Ditch the takeaway menu and celebrate Chinese New Year in style this February by cooking up a quick and easy Oriental delight. With colour, vibrancy and fresh ingredients in the wok, it is guaranteed to get your taste buds tingling and your wellbeing on the rise.

It’s a misconception that Chinese food equals expanding waist lines, in fact it’s one of the healthiest meals you can cook at home.

Renowned chef Ken Hom shares some of his wisdom to help everyone eat themselves well this Chinese New Year:

“With a wide array of fresh vegetables, very little oil and lean meat, Chinese food is amongst the healthiest food in the world. Stir-fries are a great and easy way to get your 5-A-Day and many of the ingredients help promote wellbeing. For example, garlic helps lower cholesterol and chillies are a great way to help fight off common colds.”

He continues: “Ginger is perhaps one of the most common spices used within Chinese cooking for its aromatic and flavoursome properties but it also acts as a remedy for a number of ailments including nausea, heart burn and indigestion. Sesame oil is one of the most common oils used in Chinese cooking, in particular for seasoning and marinades in stir-fries. And again, it has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels. Compared to many other oils, it is also low in saturated fats and adds a delicious nutty taste to any dish”.

“Coriander is used regularly within Chinese cooking and is not only an excellent source of magnesium and iron but it has been known to help with digestive problems and bacterial infections. Extremely high temperatures are used when stir-frying which seals the meat well, making sure the oil does not taint the flavour of the meat. As a rule, to ensure the dish is as healthy as possible, I always drain any excess fat. There are many different spices and flavours to use in Chinese cooking but my personal favourite ingredient has to be chilli because it can spice up any dish adding plenty of zing!”

Ken Hom’s new Easy Store wok is the perfect accessory to creating stir-fries bursting with goodness and taste. This ground breaking and innovative new wok has a unique folding handle, which reduces the wok’s size by 40% allowing it to be stored easily in cupboards, drawers and even the dishwasher!

Ingeniously designed the handle is fitted with a spring loaded secure locking system with an audible ‘click’ which lets you know the handle is locked securely and ready to use.

Available in both carbon steel with a stylish brushed stainless steel lid (£40) and stainless steel with a tempered glass lid (RRP £60), the 32cm Ken Hom Easy Store wok is set to revolutionise wok cooking and create that much-needed space in kitchens across the country. Available in John Lewis (stainless steel only) or in all good cookshops nationwide.

And if you want to create that perfect Chinese banquet setting there are plenty of suitable accessories to choose from the Ken Hom Tao collection including stunning red and black dinning sets (RRP £20 for 2 persons), stylish cast iron sizzling dish (RRP £16) and authentic bamboo steamer (RRP £10).

Celebrate Chinese New Year by trying some of these recipes by Ken Hom

Stir-fried Peas with Fresh Coriander-Spring Onions-Sesame Oil

Shopping List:
1 lb (450g) fresh or frozen peas
Fresh coriander
Spring onions
Garlic
Sesame oil

Preparation Time: 11 minutes (fresh) 5 minutes (frozen)

Cooking Time: 3 1/2 minutes

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 pound (450g) fresh or frozen peas
1 tablespoon oil, preferably groundnut
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 tablespoons spring onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Cooking Instructions:

If you are using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and set aside. If you are using frozen peas, let them thaw at room temperature.

Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is hot, then add the oil.

Add the peas and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the fresh coriander, spring onions, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper and continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes or until the peas are cooked.

Add the sesame oil and give the mixture a final stir and serve at once.

10 Minute Salmon with Spring Onion Sauce

Ingredients:

1lb (450g) fresh salmon fillets
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper
1 pint (570ml) water
6 tablespoons coarsely chopped spring onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh root ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh root ginger
1½ tablespoons oil (preferably ground nut)
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Serves 4

Cooking Instructions:

Rub the salmon fillets with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper.

Bring the water to the simmer in the wok. Add the salmon, simmer for 2-3 minutes, cover tightly and turn off the heat. Allow to stand for 4 minutes.

Combine the spring onions, ginger and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt together in a small bowl. In a small pan combine the oil and sesame oil and bring it to the smoking point.

Remove the salmon from the water and arrange on a platter. Scatter the spring onion mixture on top and pour hot oil over it. Serve at once.

Tomato Ginger Soup

Shopping List:

1 lb (450g) fresh or tinned tomatoes
Ginger
2 pints (1.1 ltr) chicken stock, homemade or store brought
Chilli bean sauce

Preparation Time: 9 minutes

Cooking Time: 6 minutes

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 lb (450g) fresh or tinned tomatoes
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
2 pints (1.1 ltr) chicken stock
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons chilli bean sauce
2 teaspoons sugar

Cooking Instructions:

If you are using fresh tomatoes, cut them in half horizontally. Squeeze the seeds out and coarsely chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Put the stock into a saucepan and bring to simmering point. Add the ginger, soy sauce, chilli bean sauce, sugar, and tomatoes.

Simmer for 2 minutes.

Serve at once.

Handy Hints:

* The recipe can easily be doubled, which makes it perfect for entertaining a number of friends.
* For a Southeast Asian touch, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
* For hot summer days, serve this at room temperature.

-Ends-

For more press information or images of the above recipes, please contact Sara Bailey or Sasha Mattus at Publicasity on Tel: 020 7632 2400 or email: sbailey@publicasity.co.uk

For more information please visit www.kenhom.com

Chinese New Year 2008 – The year of the rat

People born in the Year of the Rat are imaginative, charming and lively. They tend to be very outgoing and ambitious but are protective and generous when it comes to people they love. They are highly intellectual and can often be seen as perfectionists, generally succeeding in everything they do. Level headed, calm and perceptive rats are the fittest of all of the animal signs to survive the trickiest of situations although they need to be careful not to take too much on at one time.

Key Rat characteristics:

• Hardworking
• Ambitious
• Intelligent
• Protective
• Over Critical
• Generous
• Imaginative
• Instinctive
• Confident

Colour Preference: Light Blue

Gems and Stones: Diamond, Amethyst and Garnet

Suitable Gifts: Gym membership, art book, maps

Hobbies and Pastimes: Basketball, Interior design, painting

Rats Dislike: Time keeping, routines, being last

Suitable careers:

• Writer
• Actor
• Lawyer
• Stand up Comedian
• Historian
• Politician

Symbolic food…….what does it mean for you?

Chinese cooking is flavoursome, with fantastic aromas created from the ingredients used in the cooking, some of which are symbolic.

So, if you’re planning to celebrate this New Year with some fine Chinese dishes, take note of what the ingredients could mean:

• A whole fish = togetherness, abundance and good fortune

• A chicken = prosperity (the chicken must be presented with a head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness)

• A duck = a harmonious marriage

• Prawns = happiness, liveliness and laughter

• Dried oyster = all things good.

• Peaches = immortality

• Oranges = wealth and prosperity

• Lotus seed = having many male offspring

• Black moss seaweed = wealth

• Dried bean curd = fulfilment of wealth and happiness

• Fresh bean curd or tofu is not included as it is white and unlucky for New Year as the colour signifies death and misfortune

• Noodles should be uncut, as they represent long life.

Chinese New Year superstitions

Chinese New Year is steeped in superstition – here are just some of the ones you could come across:

• The entire house should be cleaned before New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and other cleaning equipment should be put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away.

• Shooting off firecrackers on New Year's Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year.

• On the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, has to be open to allow the old year to go out.

• All debts had to paid by this time. Nothing should be lent on this day, as anyone who does so will be lending all the year. Back when tinder and flint were used, no one would lend them on this day or give a light to others.

• Shooting off firecrackers on New Year's Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year. On the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, has to be open to allow the old year to go out.

• If you cry on New Year's Day, you will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated and are not spanked, even though they are mischievous.

• On New Year's Day, we are not suppose to wash our hair because it would mean we would have washed away good luck for the New Year

• A home is thought to be lucky if a plant blooms on New Year's Day, as this foretells the start of a prosperous year.

• It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom so that is why everyone, even the sick, should get dressed and sit in the living room.

• Do not use knives or scissors on New Year's Day as this may cut off fortune.

Whilst many Chinese people today may not believe in these do's and don'ts, these traditions and customs are still practiced. Most families say that it is these very traditions, whether believed or not, that provide continuity with the past and provide the family with an identity.



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