Happy 2012!

Okay, Lady Gaga dancing with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg may not stimulate your appetite (but if you’re trying to lose weight, consider bookmarking this page).

Nonetheless, some foods are said to be lucky and eating them on New Year’s Day is said to bring good fortune for the coming year. Fish is said to bring abundance, since fish swim in schools. Plus, eating fish is a symbol of moving forward into the new year. Lentils are round like coins and in Cantonese, garlic is known as “Suin Me” which can be translated as “Plenty of Money to Count.” Herewith three (separate) recipes for Fish, Lentils, and Lettuce with Garlic. I make no promises but they can’t hurt.

Cautionary Note: Lobster should NOT be eaten on New Year’s Day because the lobster moves backwards, symbolizing setbacks.

Pescado al Ajiillo (Fish in Garlic Sauce)
This dish is popular on the Atlantic Coast of Colombia

2 lbs. swordfish or any other white fish, cut into 4 pieces

1/4 t. ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste

Garlic sauce (ajillo
)
7 garlic cloves, peeled

3/4 c. water
3 T. butter

1/2 c. chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 400F. Season fish with cumin, salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish in a single layer. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake until fish is opaque throughout when pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes.

While fish is cooking, prepare the garlic sauce. Place the garlic cloves and water in a blender and blend for about 1 minute. Transfer the garlic mixture to a saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and chicken stock. Stir well and cook for about 7-8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a serving plate and pour the garlic sauce over it to serve.

Lentils with Garlic and Oil
(adapted from Chef Ramzi’s The Culinary Heritage of Lebanon)

1 c. lentils
20  cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed with a pinch of salt
1/3 c. olive oil
dash of allspice (optional)
salt and black pepper, to taste
parsley or scallions, chopped, as garnish

Cook the lentils in a pot with 3 cups of water until cooked. Add the black pepper and allspice if using.  Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the mashed garlic. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the garlic is golden. Be careful not to burn. Pour the garlic and olive oil in the pot with the lentils and stir to mix. Serve warm with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or green onion as a garnish.

Good Fortune Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce
1 medium head iceberg lettuce
1 1/2 t soy sauce
1 1/2 t sesame oil
1 t rice wine or dry sherry
3/4 t sugar
1/4 t ground white pepper
3 T peanut or vegetable oil
3 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1/4 t salt

Core the iceberg and separate into leaves. Wash the lettuce in several changes of cold water, breaking the leaves in half. Drain thoroughly in a colander until dry to the touch.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, sugar and pepper. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Add the peanut oil and garlic, and stir-fry 10 seconds or until just fragrant. Add the lettuce and stir-fry one minute. Add the salt and stir-fry another minute, or until the lettuce is just limp. Swirl in the sauce and stir-fry one minute more or until the lettuce is just tender and still bright green.

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