Recipes to usher in the year of the monkey

In "Today's Kitchen," we celebrate the Chinese New Year. The festivities began this week in New York City’s Chinatown with traditional costume, food and parades as 2004 ushers in the year of the monkey. Chef Ming Tsai, owner of the blue ginger restaurant in Boston and host of the TV series Simply Ming, shares a festive New Year's menu that is steeped in tradition.

Whole Crispy Red Snapper with Black Bean-Garlic Sauce

Makes about 3 cups


  • Black Bean-Garlic Sauce

    • 3-4 pound Red Snapper or other pristine fresh fish, eviscerated, head-on
    • 1 cup black bean-garlic sauce (see recipe)
    • 2 quarts peanut oil or canola oil
    • 1 cup cornstarch or rice flour
    • Hot steamed long grain rice
    • 1 cup grapeseed oil or canola oil
    • 1/3 cup fermented black beans, roughly chopped
    • 1/2 cup minced garlic
    • 1/2 cup peeled and minced fresh ginger
    • 2 bunches of scallions, white and green parts, sliced 1/8 inch thick
    • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek or hot red pepper sauce
    • 1/2 cup Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Baking Directions:

In large deep pot, heat the peanut oil to the smoking point or 360 degrees f. Carefully lower the fish into the hot oil and fry for 12 minutes or until fork can pierce fish and be removed easily. Remove the fish and place on platter. Spoon hot black bean-garlic sauce over fish. Serve with rice.Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. Add 1/4 cup of the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the beans, garlic, ginger, and scallions, and stir-fry until the mixture has softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sambal oelek and wine, decrease the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture is reduced by three quarters, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool. Transfer half of the mixture to a blender and purée it at high speed while adding the remaining 3/4 cup of oil. Stir the purée back into the remaining mixture and cool completely. Use or store.


Beverage tip: Ravenswood Zinfandel Sonoma County, California.Lasts 2 weeks, refrigerated

Nian Gao with Sauteed Oranges

Serves 4


    • 4 small Nian Gao, purchased
    • 2 cups Orange segments
    • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier


Baking Directions:

Melt butter in a non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ginger and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Peel and dice orange segments and carefully sauté until warm. Carefully add Grand Marnier and flambé.Remove the nian gao from the steamer and ladle the oranges and syrup over the cakes and serve.