Very few things have the power to bring a family together like a holiday celebration. Whether it is preparing the meal together, going out to eat together or gathering at the dining room table, holiday dining is a cherished tradition that helps us to catch up with family and friends by gathering together for a festive cause.
Fortunately, with the month of February comes the Lunar New Year. I had the opportunity to meet with Philip Chiang, a dad himself and the co-founder of P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro, who dished out some fun traditions and recipes for delicious food to help everyone celebrate new beginnings and good fortune for the Year of the Sheep, 2015!
One can argue that food is at the center of many holidays, and the Lunar New Year is nothing different. “Food is a very important way for families to celebrate the Lunar New Year. P.F. Chang’s is inviting people everywhere to share this special tradition with a meaningful meal,” said Philip Chiang, the co-founder of the restaurant chain. Chiang grew up celebrating the Lunar New Year with his family and has fond memories of all the children making dumplings during the wintertime, as well as celebrating with a three-day hometown feast where everyone ate and played mahjong together.
The Lunar New Year is known to bring prosperity, longevity and health, especially if one chooses to celebrate with the proper symbols. Chiang gave us the scoop on a couple of traditions that he has followed throughout the years including both dressing and decorating with the color red, which “represents prosperity and also drives away evil,” Chiang explains.
Many may know of Chiang’s mother, Cecilia Chiang, who won the James Beard award last year and has been recognized for her delicious cooking. Many of her recipes, many of which Chiang remembers from his childhood, have inspired the P.F. Chang’s “Lucky 8 Dishes” menu, which will be offered for a limited time to celebrate the Lunar New Year, between February 16 and March 5. This menu includes eight dishes, encompassing a full meal with appetizers, entrees and desserts, all of which represent a Chinese symbol of luck, prosperity, wealth, abundance or longevity.
Chiang was generous enough to share the recipe for his best-selling and most famous dish, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, so that everyone can have the option of celebrating the Lunar New Year with their family at home as well. The Cantonese word for “lettuce” sounds like “rising fortune,” which means that “the more you eat, the more fortune you will have,” according to the “Lucky 8 Dishes” menu.
Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry Romaine Wraps with Citrus Soy
Recipe Courtesy of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
1 pound chicken
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dry chili flakes
3 tablespoons soy bean oil or vegetable oil
2 heads romaine lettuce, cleaned
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 ounce scallions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Dice the chicken into tiny pieces. Place the chicken in a mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons soy bean oil, garlic, chili flakes and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Mix together in a circular motion until well mixed. Let marinate in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
Mix together the citrus juices, soy, and hoisin sauce with a whisk. Reserve until needed. Clean the romaine lettuce, chopping off the stem, peeling each ‘spear’ and running under clean cold water. Reserve in refrigerator until ready to use. Chop scallions into rings and reserve chilled.
Coat a very hot sauté pan lightly with soybean oil. Lay the chicken around the sauté pan being careful not to lay too many on top of each other. Sear the chicken until crispy and golden brown, about 2 ½ minutes. Once chicken is brown, toss gently in pan and sear another 2 ½ minutes. The pan will appear to “burn,” but that is the carmelization and where all the flavor comes from.
Add ½ of the citrus soy mixture to the sauté pan and coat well. Let the sauce coat the chicken until it is glazed, and thickens on the chicken. Add more or less depending on how “wet” you want your mixture. Spoon chicken onto a plate.
Wrap the chicken mixture in romaine lettuce and top with scallion rings. Serve and enjoy!
Fun fact: this recipe can also be done with baby shrimp, fish or beef.
To learn more, visit pfchangs.com!