Spicy tuna crispy rice cakes recipe


This post is part of a series of recipes sponsored by Go Wild! BC Salmon. You can find this recipe & more, along with information about British Columbia"s incredible wild salmon fisheries. All opinions are my own.

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Auspicious. It"s a good word, isn"t it? It"s a very hopeful, weighty word, evocative of the very success and opportunity it"s meant to lớn forecast. What I find particularly interesting about it is that it doesn"t come up terribly often in English conversation, but it comes up all over the place in English articles about Chinese culture. The lunar new year is rapidly approaching (it happens lớn fall on February 16th in 2018), và the word "auspicious" is about to lớn pop up all over the place. The lunar new year is one of the most important times of the year to be with family, and as we all know, family và food tend khổng lồ go hand in hand. But the dishes that tend make an appearance in trung quốc during the New Year are chosen not just because they"re tasty, but because they are meant lớn usher in a year of prosperity. They are auspicious dishes. (How weird is it that those two words rhyme? English spelling is crazy.)

Fish, rice cakes, dumplings, noodles, and more - all dishes meant to ensure luck, prosperity, & happiness. But why that is, exactly, has a lot to bởi with language. Chinese is a tonal language,(1) so the meaning of a word is determined not only by the phonemes, but by the tones used to lớn pronounce them. These sounds vary somewhat across the Chinese dialects, but I"ll use Mandarin Chinese as an example, as it"s the dialect I"m most comfortable with. Take the word "zhu" - if spoken with a flat tone of voice (zhū), it means pig (豬). With an ascending tone (zhú) it means bamboo (竹). With a descending tone (zhù) it means to lớn live, or dwell. With a descending-then-ascending "u-shaped" tone (zhŭ) it means to cook. As you can imagine, a sentence about cooking pork with bamboo where you live could get a little confusing. The complexity doesn"t stop there either, as their are true homophones to khuyến mãi with as well. For example, the same flat "zhū" that means pig can also mean tree trunk (株), bead (珠), & vermilion (豬). This aspect is generally made clear by context, in writing, and/or by frequency of use. Because similar sounding words can have such widely disparate meanings, a great giảm giá of attention is often paid khổng lồ words that resemble each other. In essence, a lot of words are effectively considered lucky (or unlucky) because the language is loaded with built-in puns. Be still, my dad-joke-loving heart. You might notice that Chinese grocery stores carry a lot of pomelo at this time of year; pomelo is pronounced yòu (柚), which sounds lượt thích the words "to have" (yoŭ - 有) and "also" (yòu - 又). Because of this, eating pomelo symbolizes continuing prosperity. Puns!

So what makes this particular recipe auspicious? Well it"s got something to vày with the fish, and something to do with the rice cakes. Salmon is fish of course, & fish (typically left whole, but we can get away with pieces here because we"re doubling down on the auspicious foods) holds a special place of significance at this time of the year. The word fish (yú - 魚) sounds like the word surplus (yú - 余), so eating fish is meant khổng lồ symbolize having more than you need in the year to come. Rice cakes are called nián gāo (年糕) in Mandarin Chinese, và this too holds homophonic significance. The expression nián nián gāo (年年高) means khổng lồ grow (or become) higher year after year. This can refer to lớn growing children, succeeding in school, rising up in one"s position at work, etc. The argument could easily be made that this particular recipe therefore symbolizes one"s wealth or financial success growing year after year.


I"m not going khổng lồ go into too much detail here because I"ve already written a whole article about the ins và outs of stir-frying. If you"ve ever wondered why your home-cooked stir fries have ended up mushy or lacked that seared flavour (it"s called wok hei, and it"s the best), I strongly suggest you give the article a read.

There are three big keys khổng lồ success with stir-frying. The first is organization. The second is heat, và LOTS of it. The third is not over-crowding your pan.

Organization is essential here because once you start stir-frying, things are going to lớn go fast. Everything cooks for a very short period of time, và if you"ve forgotten and ingredient or sauce, there"s a good chance you won"t be able to get it into the meal before it"s too late. Make sure you have everything you need ready lớn go before you even think about turning on the stove.

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Heat is unfortunately the trickiest thing khổng lồ get right when stir-frying at home. It"s difficult lớn get many trang chủ stoves to produce enough heat khổng lồ really get a wok (or large pan) khổng lồ that ideal, ultra-hot temperature. I use a gas range & a carbon-steel wok which I get blisteringly hot before adding my ingredients. If you don"t have a wok, a large cast iron skillet can vì a pretty respectable job, as it holds heat well. Just make sure lớn get it screaming-hot first. If you have a non-stick hybrid wok pan, you"re better off using cast iron or a heavy skillet. Nonstick pans generally aren"t meant khổng lồ be used at high heat (unless they"re ceramic), which makes "non-stick woks" something of an oxymoron. If you have an electric stove, be patient as you get the temperature up and be extra careful about the next step.

Lastly, và importantly: vày NOT. OVERCROWD. THE PAN. All that heat in the wok can"t do it"s job if you put a gigantic quantity of cold food right into the middle. Instead, you kết thúc up with steamed, wilted vegetables, mushy starches, & pale un-caramelized meat. Not good. Take note of the directions below, as they instruct you to lớn cook the components of the dish one after another, only recombining them toward the end. Be sure to lớn let your wok get hot again in between ingredients too, as it will cool substantially whenever sauce or cold ingredients are added.

Once you get khổng lồ the actual rice cakes, you will, understandable, have a pretty full pan. That"s ok, as you"ll have worked all that amazing high-heat flavour into the sauces & other ingredients. Keep the rice cakes moving gently but quickly as you combine all of the ingredients & don"t let the finished dish sit too long or it will stick.

One final tip - if you"re unsure about whether or not you can work fast enough or with enough heat, cut the recipe in half and/or cook it in two batches. It"s way easier khổng lồ stir-fry 2-3 portions than it is 4-6.

Note: nutritional info is given for a single side-dish style serving (1/8 total recipe). If you eat this as a main dish you can approximately double the serving size and all of the information below.