I always said I consider myself pretty lucky that I grew up in a household that was filled with good cooks. I hear stories of what friends ate for dinner growing up and I think hmmm. . yeah that was never part of our dinner rotation. I won’t get into specifics but I’ll just say that we weren’t a throw food into a casserole dish and see how it turns out type of family.
So now as much as my parents did cook, there were still nights off from the kitchen. At some point in time, Sunday nights turned into Chinese food takeout night. Not every week mind you but I’d say a good portion of my childhood was spent at my local Chinese restaurant looking over the menu to see what we’d be ordering that night.
Fast forward to today and my love for Chinese food is still strong. Which is why I’m pretty happy that I basically live a hop, skip and a jump away from Brooklyn Chinatown. There are positives and negatives to this benefit. The positive – easy access to authentic Cantonese, Szechuan or Dim Sum restaurants and Asian markets. The negative – I’m so spoiled by this I will only eat in Brooklyn Chinatown now and won’t eat at the takeout joints right by me. Which basically means when I crave Chinese food and I don’t want to travel the 20 minute bus ride it takes to get it, I must make it myself.
For this reason, I always keep a well stocked Asian pantry. You never really know when the craving is going to strike and during the winter there really is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of noodle soup.
One item you will always find in my pantry is a bottle of Kikkoman Soy Sauce. In general it’s synonymous with Asian cooking, but it is a versatile ingredient that can be used to cook many different types of cuisines. Kikkoman Soy Sauce is aged for several months to develop its characteristic rich, yet mellow flavor, aroma and distinctive reddish-brown color. Plus soy sauce is rich in naturally produced umami, so just a splash gives an added boost of flavor to any recipe.
So while I’ll often add it to a marinade or sauce, in general I always do turn to Asian cooking at home. I can’t help it, I love the cuisine!
In my opinion, there’s really never a wrong time to go for a giant bowl of noodle soup, loaded up with dumplings, green vegetables and mushrooms but it’s especially special right now. February 8th kicks of the Chinese New Year, this year being the Year of the Monkey. Unlike the Gregorian calendar New Year that we all celebrate on a single day; the Chinese New Year is a 15-day festival that’s full of parades, color, food, friends and family. Every year I try to make it over to Chinatown during the festival to join in on the fun.
Even if you can’t make it to your own Chinatown, this soup will do the trick. There are all sorts of symbolic Chinese New Year foods, including dumplings for wealth and noodles for a long life. What better way to put the two together. Right?
The soup takes some time to prepare but the payoff is worth it. I suggest gathering some friends together for a dumpling making party and enjoying your bounty afterwards. This dumpling recipe making a ton and I did make life a little easier by buying pre-made dumpling wrappers.
Gung Hay Fat Choy! I wish you good health and prosperity while you celebrate Chinese New Year!
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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.