A Taste of Asia to Celebrate the Lunar New Year

When I was planning our special meals to celebrate the¬†PyeongChang Winter Olympics, I realized that the Lunar New Year was going to fall right in the middle of the festivities. China is probably the first country that comes to mind when you think of Lunar New Year celebrations, but Korea, Vietnam, and several other Asian countries also observe this holiday. I also discovered that while it no longer is, it also used to be on Japan’s calendar, too. With that information in mind, I decided to make not just a Korean meal, but a whole “Taste of Asia!”

I did most of the cooking from scratch. I made shrimp egg rolls (which I’ve done once before) and Japanese pork gyoza, as well as more of the Korean fried tofu we enjoyed last week, and some light Vietnamese shrimp spring rolls. We also bought a package of frozen pork buns from the Asian market, and I used my bamboo steamer for the first time to prepare those. And Ryan went out and bought some crab rangoon from our favorite Chinese restaurant…they make them so well, there was no way I was going to bother trying to replicate them at home!

It was a nice selection of foods, from a good variety of Asian countries!

I even tried some Japanese sake for the first time:

I confess…I didn’t make any of the dessert from scratch. But we found two varieties of mochi (red bean and green tea) at the Asian market, and I bought a bag of fortune cookies, as well:

This was another fun meal, and gave us all the opportunity to try some new things. I’m planning one more big Korean dinner before the end of the Olympics, so stay tuned!

Tasty Tuesday–Mocha Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake

Making a no-bake cheesecake was a first for me. I will say that if you’re looking for the texture and density of a traditional baked cheesecake, this may not be for you–its texture is almost mousse-like, and it’s surprisingly lighter than a regular cheesecake. The prep work involved is the same, but you don’t have to deal with baking it, and checking it, and wondering if it’s done enough/not overdone, (I have a bad habit of cracking cheesecakes when I make them, and while they’ve always been delicious, they certainly haven’t looked perfect!). I love the coffee flavor in this cheesecake, and I’ve found that it’s especially delicious if you eat it when it’s partly frozen!

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 2 packets (1/4 oz. each) powdered unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 instant coffee powder
  • 1 Tbsp. hot water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. coffee-flavored liqueur (optional)
  • 12 oz. chocolate chunks
  • 2 c. whipping cream, whipped

1. In a medium bowl, combine Oreo cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press into bottom of ungreased 9-inch cheesecake pan, (or springform pan with 3-inch sides, greased), and freeze.
2. Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small saucepan and let stand for 1 minute. Stir over low heat until gelatin is dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high for 3 minutes. Slowly add dissolved gelatin/milk mixture. Stir in cocoa powder.
4. In a small bowl, dissolve coffee powder in hot water. Stir into cream cheese mixture.
5. Stir vanilla, coffee liqueur, (if desired), and chocolate chunks into cream cheese mixture. Fold in whipped cream.
6. Pour mixture over crust. Chill until firm, at least six hours, or overnight.
7. Run a hot knife around edge of pan to loosen.