Lunar New Year Recipes From Top Los Angeles Chefs

Check out which one of Pechanga’s Chefs is featured in the Los Angeles Times with her Lunar New Year recipe.

Click here for the full article.

It’s the Year of the Rat and horoscope forecasters say that means good fortune. Not as in luck, but as in money: More of it. To speed that promise along, here are a few Lunar New Year dishes traditionally served because they resemble riches: dumplings look like bags of money; bar-shaped foods savory and sweet evoke gold bars.

Marie Surakal serves legions of fortune-seekers Lunar New Year meals at Bamboo in the Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula. This year, she’s preparing thousands of golden bag dumplings. “The dumpling name in Thai means bag of money, so we made them as a family in Thailand to add some lucky charm into our prayers.” Even though the Lunar New Year isn’t a holiday celebrated in Thailand, Surakal says her family is part Chinese so they cooked and feasted together, packaging the money bags in a party assembly line.

Golden Bag Chicken Dumplings With Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

2 hours. Makes 20.

Surakal has adapted her family’s traditional Thai filling by adding vegetables she’s come to love since cooking and living in America. The sweet potato, carrots, and peas lend a natural sweetness to the savory chicken base.

20 Chinese chives
Kosher salt
¼ cup finely diced peeled sweet potato
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces packed ground dark meat chicken (½ cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, plus more for frying
3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and finely chopped
¼ cup coarsely grated carrot
¼ cup frozen green peas, thawed
20 sheets (8-inch-square) spring roll wrappers, preferably TYJ brand
Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (see recipe below), for serving

1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Add the chives to the boiling water and boil for 5 seconds. Use tongs to immediately transfer to the ice water. When cool, drain the chives on paper towels, patting very dry.

2. Bring the water in the saucepan back to a boil. Add the sweet potato and cook until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well and reserve.

3. Mix the oyster sauce, sugar, cornstarch and pepper in a small bowl to make a sauce. Combine the chicken, garlic, cilantro and 2 tablespoons of the sauce mixture in a large bowl. Mix until well blended; reserve the remaining sauce.

4. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken mixture and cook, stirring and breaking the meat into small bits, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, carrot, peas and reserved sweet potato and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the remaining sauce and cook, stirring until the sauce thickens and evenly coats everything, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a bowl, then refrigerate to chill, about 1 hour.

5. Put a spring roll wrapper on a work surface and put 1 heaping tablespoon filling in the center. Draw up all the sides of the wrapper and gather around the filling to form a pouch. Wrap one chive around the cinched part at least two times, then tie to secure. Repeat with the remaining wrappers, filling and chives to make more dumplings.

6. Fill a saucepan with oil to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees. Working in batches, add the dumplings to the hot oil (avoid overcrowding) and fry, turning to evenly cook, just until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve hot with the sweet chili sauce.

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

20 minutes. Makes about 1 ½ cups.

1 cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chili paste)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt

1. Combine the sugar, vinegar, sambal, garlic and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer rapidly, stirring occasionally, until syrupy in consistency, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Make ahead: The filling can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Adapted from Marie Surakul.