Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook


February 3, 2011 welcomes in the gentle year of the Golden Rabbit according to the Chinese Zodiac. The Rabbit is a lucky sign and according to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves.  It is a time for peaceful negotiation; without forcing issues. To gain the greatest benefits from this time, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children (this is always good policy-no matter what). Sage wisdom says to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle, so you will be able to smoothly deal with any problem.

I've designed a fast menu for those of us with little time to spare on a week night. It's very simple and soothing as it should be for the bunny. Long noodles are often part of the Chinese New Year celebration so feel free to add noodles to the soup. Rice or cellophane noodles can be soaked in cool water until pliable and then added to the hot soup.

Tangerines and oranges are everywhere during Chinese New Year as the words for tangerine and orange sound like luck and wealth in the Chinese language and they are fast fruits for winter.


Speedo Hot & Sour

Crunchy Asian Meatballs

Orange Slices and Tangerines and Fortune Cookies


Speedo Hot & Sour Soup

Serves 4


Although this soup is perfect for the Chinese New Year celebration, it is an elixir I find which soothes a cold or flu. I crave it if I’m feeling under the weather. There is shrimp in this fast and clever soup which poaches very quickly in the broth. If you’re going to simmer the soup for a long time, remove the shrimp until just ready to serve.


  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 cup red miso
  • 2 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • Dash Sriracha Hot sauce or to taste
  • 8 ounces large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh sugar snap peas
  • Juice of one medium lime
  • 1 scallion, very thinly sliced


Bring the water in a stock pot to boil. Add the miso, mushrooms ginger, garlic, fish sauce (if using) and Sriracha. Cook for 10 minutes and then add the shrimp quickly to poach for 3-5 minutes. Add the sugar snap peas and cook for just a minute. Finally add the vinegar or lime juice, scallions and adjust seasonings. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.



Crunchy Asian Meatballs

Serves 4-6

These little orbs come with a crunch by way of the peanuts which also serve as a great flavoring. It's simple to add any extra character with a dash of soy sauce or a teaspoon of hoisin sauce or garlic chile paste

  • 1 pound ground chicken, turkey or beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2  cup dry-roasted peanuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 3/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Dipping Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha Hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


Make the Dipping Sauce

In a small bowl, mix ingredients together and let sit at least 15 minutes before serving for sugar to dissolve.



Make the meatballs

In medium bowl, combine ground meat, egg, ground peanuts, chopped cilantro and salt. Using a wooden spoon, blend well. Shape mixture into 1" balls.


Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil In a 12" skillet over medium-high heat; add meatballs. Cook about 12 minutes, turning frequently until well browned on all sides.


Place on a platter with the dipping sauce in a small bowl.


Orange Slices and Tangerines and Fortune Cookies





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