The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 01.15.04


Gung Hey Fat Choy (Happy New Year)

The Year of the Monkey is upon us and no matter how tempted you are, this does not mean that you can act like one.

However, you can jump up and down all you want, scream like a chimpanzee, and even banish the bad demons from your house by firing off some firecrackers should you wish. You might be better off adhering to the saner of Chinese New Year traditions.

Simply sweep out your abode of all bad luck remaining from the past year and open up all the windows for a good airing out of lingering demons.

Today marks the start of the new lunar year and, as of midnight, we will be well on our way to prosperity and much luck should we celebrate with our Asian neighbors and friends.

Tradition says that one must start the Chinese New Year right with a full belly. I know, you are still trying to burn calories from the recent Western holiday season. I say it just wouldn't be right to ignore the kitchen gods in their time of need and I for one will not risk misfortune by ignoring a celebration that is second to none globally.

There are many festivities happening all over Montreal, but a trip to China Town might be good place to start your hunt for ingredients needed for a dish or two that you can make at home. I know of a good Asian market on north Sources Boulevard on the West Island that has everything you need, too.

You'll easily find all the ingredients for the following recipe in major grocery stores, as each now seems to have a mini Asian food section. Wok and Roll…

Szechwan ribs with hot chili oil

1/2-cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4-cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
5 quarter-size pieces of ginger, smashed
2 cloves garlic, smashed
4 lbs. spare ribs

1/2-cup hoisin sauce
1/4-cup soy sauce
1/4-cup sugar
2 tbsp. Asian sesame oil
A few drops of Szechwan hot chili oil, to taste

Combine marinade ingredients and pour over ribs in a large baking pan. Ribs should be in a single layer. Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours, turning occasionally. Remove from marinade, baste with sauce and place in a 425-degree oven for 30 minutes, reduce heat to 325 degrees and cook another 45 minutes to an hour while basting with the following sauce every 15 minutes. Serve with steamed white rice. Serves 4-6.

Chili oil is simple to make should you not be able to find it at your common grocery. Asian markets always have it in the sauce section, but you can make it by quickly frying a tablespoon of crushed red chilies in 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Let this rest after quick frying and be careful not to burn the chilies. Just heat them through and allow this to rest off the heat for twenty minutes. You may add sliced garlic and ginger to the oil prior to frying, should you wish.