Chinese new year

Crispy Roasted Duck Legs with Hoisin-Orange Glaze

The one consistent thing my husband wants for his birthday, year after year, is Chinese food. Forget the gifts, don’t bother with cake. Just give him Chinese food and he’s happy.

So this is on the menu this week, for his birthday, which just happens to coincide with Chinese new year.


  • 4 duck legs

  • olive oil

  • 1 cup orange juice

  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce

  • 3 tablespoons honey

  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange peel

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse and dry the duck legs and rub them with a light film of olive oil. Place them in a roasting pan, flat side up. Roast for 15 minutes. While the duck is roasting, combine the orange juice, hoisin sauce, honey, orange peel. ginger and garlic in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat briefly, stirring just until the honey has become blended in the liquid.. Set aside. When the 15 minutes are done, turn the legs round side up. Pour the orange juice mixture over the meat, cover the pan and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the cover. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Baste and bake for another 15 minutes or until the ducks are cooked through and the skin is crispy. 

Makes 4 servings


Fried Rice is Always Welcome

Ed and I have eaten a lot of fried rice recently. In Hong Kong. In Vietnam. In Cambodia. In the Philippines.

You could say fried rice is a staple in our lives. Just this simple dish: hot rice, vaguely crispy from the fry, lightly salty (but never with added soy sauce) and with a bit of egg, onion (usually in the form of scallion) and cooked vegetables. And that's how we had it (with a change of seasonings, depending on where we were) throughout Southeast Asia.

And that's how we have it at home (only from now on I will add more of the flavorings we recently sampled -- like sliced chili pepper or fresh coriander or star anise).

Because no matter what else I make for dinner, Ed will always welcome fried rice as a side dish.

He will also welcome fried rice as the main dish.

That makes it very easy for me, especially on days when I don't feel like fussing over dinner.

It does take some thinking ahead, because it's best to make fried rice using cold, cooked rice.

After that it's simple. You stirfry the rice and add all sorts of other ingredients from cooked carrots or mushrooms or any other veggie, to frozen peas to canned water chestnuts to fresh scallions to leftover chicken or veal to scrambled eggs -- whatever you have! And season it the way you like.

Like the recipe below, which was a filling, satisfying, delicious one-pot dinner.

Another bonus -- I added some of the Carrington Sriracha flavored coconut oil that I mentioned when I posted about Sriracha-Parmesan Popcorn. I got the oil, among other things at Crafted Kosher, a new website that has an enormous assortment of interesting products. The coconut oil is coming in handy for many of my recipes (stay tuned). Just a small amount makes a huge flavor difference, as it did with this fried rice.

Fried Rice with Egg and Peas

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha flavored coconut oil
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cups cooked cold rice
  • 3/4 cup thawed frozen peas
  • 1 cup diced leftover turkey, chicken or veal, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

Beat the eggs in a bowl and set aside. Heat 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil in a wok or stirfry pan over medium-high heat. Add the eggs and cook, stirring once or twice until they are set on the bottom. Turn the eggs over and cook briefly until firm. Dish out the eggs onto a chopping board, chop them and set them aside. Heat the remaining vegetable oil and the coconut oil in the pan. Add the scallions and stirfry for about one minute. Add the rice, eggs, peas, optional meat and salt and stirfry for 2-3 minutes to distribute ingredients and heat the rice.

Makes 2-4 servings, depending on whether this is a one-dish meal or part of a meal


Chicken with Peanuts, Kung Pao Gai Ding

There’s an old joke about Jews and Chinese food. A Chinese man is speaking to a Jewish man and says, “so if your culture is over 5000 years old and ours is over 4000 years old where did your people eat for a thousand years?”

Such is the devotion of Jewish people to Chinese food.

Back in the day, young Jewish couples who became engaged would eat Chinese food on a Saturday night date. Jewish families ate Chinese food out together on Sunday afternoon.

But even now, the connection between Jewish people and Chinese food is the stuff of humor. Like when Elena Kagan was being questioned before her appointment to the Supreme Court and when asked where she was on Christmas Day she said “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.” 

So on Chinese New Year (4710, celebration begins in the evening, January 22nd) it is not unthinkable that Jewish people might want to eat some Chinese food as a sort of celebration (any excuse really).

Here’s one of my favorite recipes:

Chicken with Peanuts


1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine, other rice wine or white wine

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sesame seed oil

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons water

the chicken:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

4-6 dry red whole chili peppers

4 large scallions, chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1/2 cup roasted peanuts (may be salted)

Mix the soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar, kosher salt and sesame seed oil in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix the 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl and set aside.

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and place in a bowl. Add the 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch and mix thoroughly to coat all the chicken pieces and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a wok or stirfry pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and stirfry for 2-3 minutes or until all the pieces are white. Dish out the chicken and set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon vegetable oil in the wok. Add the chili peppers and cook briefly until they turn dark. Add the scallion, ginger and chicken to the pan and stirfry briefly to distribute the ingredients evenly. Stir the sauce and pour it into the pan. Stirfry for about a minute. Add the peanuts and mix them in evenly. Stir the cornstarch mixture and pour it into the pan. Stirfry until the sauce has thickened. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings