A Chinese New Year celebration at Mariano's South Loop--complete with sesame mango sauce

A Chinese New Year celebration at Mariano's South Loop--complete with sesame mango sauce
Rodelio Aglibot photo/Bonnie McGrath

I've always kind of thought of Chinese New Year as a sort of South Loop thing.  After all, Chinatown is right next door.  You can walk right down Clark or Archer from the heart of the South Loop and be there in a flash.  A mere flicker.

But yesterday afternoon from 4 till 6, Chinese New Year was celebrated right smack in the South Loop at our South Loop Mariano's.  One of the Mariano's TasteMakers, Rodelio Aglibot, a restauranteur in Mt. Prospect who shops at the Arlington Heights Mariano's, prepared stir fried chicken with sesame mango sauce for the occasion.  And it was a big hit.  Everyone seemed to want to try some.  And all the ingredients were available in the store.

So Rodelio--who runs e + o and is also known as The Food Buddha, in addition to his role as one of Mariano's TasteMakers, made batch after batch of the tangy chicken dish.

"I celebrated Chinese New Year last night," said Rodelio as he stir-fried away.  He went with friends to Phoenix in Chinatown, just a few minutes walk from where he was standing.  He also explained that because he was born in early January, and because Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, it's hard to determine if he was born in the Year of the Goat or the Monkey.

Here's the recipe:

First make the sauce:

  • 1 quart mango syrup
  • 2 tablespoons ginger
  • 1 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 8 oz. fish sauce
  • 1 oz. hoisan sauce
  • 1 oz. oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Combine ingredients in a container.  Mix them together.  Label, date and refrigerate.  Should last a week or so.

Then make the chicken (one portion):

  • 6 oz chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup flour with 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of paprika
  • dredge chicken in flour and deep fry for 6 minutes
  • set chicken aside
  • heat a wok or deep frying pan to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil
  • add two ounces of broccoli crowns, already blanched and stir fry for 10 seconds
  • add 2 tablespoons of sliced red peppers and do the same
  • do the same with 1/2 ounce of sliced scallions
  • add chicken and toss for 10 seconds
  • add 3 ounces of sauce and toss for another 15 seconds until coated
  • transfer to a plate and serve with rice
  • garnish with more scallions

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