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Pair Up!

Nov 01, 2020 08:31AM ● By Maria Terry

Take Out, Take Off


Americans have found multiple ways to keep the economy going amid a global pandemic. From ventilators made by car manufacturers to fast-tracked medical treatments, Zoom meetings, and curbside delivery, Americans have found ways to make and spend money. Support your local restaurants by grabbing some take-out or, if you’d prefer to make your own, here are a few of my favorite Asian recipes. Just about any sparkling wine is delicious with Chinese food. Remember: spicier food wants sweeter wine.


The Maria Gomes grape, also known as Fernão Pires, is widely planted in the center and south of Portugal. It is often blended with local grapes like Bical or international grapes like Chardonnay and made into still, sparkling, and dessert wine styles. Sparkling Maria Gomes sports aromas of citrus and floral complemented by spice and white pepper. The light fresh flavor of the wine cools a classic Hot & Sour Soup, while the white pepper reverberates in both.


I found this Celery and Ginger Chicken recipe when trying to use up some celery in my fridge. It is remarkably simple and really tasty. You can tailor the spice level to your liking and compliment your wine’s sugar level. Serve it over plain white rice as a simple backdrop to the intense flavors of the chicken.


Desserts need sweeter wines. The fortune cookies that come with take-out are perfect with sweet bubbles. If you are at home and feel like baking, this Chinese New Year’s Cake looks delish.


So, go on. Pair Up!


Maria Terry is a Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Hot and Sour Soup



8 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

8 ounces shiitake or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced with stems discarded

1 (8-ounce) can bamboo shoots, drained (optional)

¼ cup rice vinegar, or more to taste

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

¼ cup cornstarch

2 large eggs, whisked

8 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (optional)

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Kosher salt and white pepper (or black pepper), to taste



Set aside ¼ cup of the chicken or vegetable broth for later use.


Add the remaining 7 ¾ cups chicken or vegetable broth, mushrooms, bamboo shoots (if using), rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and chili garlic sauce to a large stockpot and stir to combine. Heat over medium-high heat until the soup reaches a simmer.


While the soup is heating, whisk together the ¼ cup of broth (that you had set aside) and cornstarch in a small bowl until completely smooth. Once the soup has reached a simmer, stir in the cornstarch mixture and stir for one minute or so until the soup has thickened.


Continue stirring the soup in a circular motion, then drizzle in the eggs in a thin stream (while still stirring the soup) to create egg ribbons. Stir in the tofu, half of the green onions, and sesame oil. Then season the soup with salt and a pinch of white or black pepper to taste. If you’d like a more “sour” soup, feel free to add in another tablespoon or two of rice wine vinegar as well. If you’d like a spicier soup, add in more chili garlic sauce.


Serve immediately and garnish with the extra green onions.


Yield: 6-8 servings


Ginger and Celery Chicken



1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 egg 

1 Tablespoon cornstarch 

Coarse salt and ground pepper 

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

1 pound celery (8 to 10 large stalks), thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 5 cups) 

3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly slivered lengthwise 

1 jalapeno chile, red or green, slivered lengthwise (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat, if desired) 

3 Tablespoons rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil 

1 Tablespoon sugar 



Cut chicken into thin strips, 2½ to 3 inches long. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg white, cornstarch, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper until smooth. Add chicken strips and toss to coat.


Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the coated chicken strips to skillet; cook, turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add another tablespoon vegetable oil to skillet, and brown remaining chicken in the same manner.


Add celery, ginger, and jalapeno to remaining oil in a skillet (add additional oil, if necessary). Cook, tossing, until celery is crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes.


Stir vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar in with vegetables. Add scallions and cooked chicken; toss, until combined and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.


Yield: 4 servings


Baked Chinese New Year Cake



2 Tablespoons shredded, sweetened coconut

4 large eggs

1 pound rice flour (about 3 cups)

3 cups whole milk

2½ cups granulated sugar

3 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for coating the baking dish

1 teaspoon coconut extract

¼ teaspoon fine salt



Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with butter; set aside.


Place the coconut in a single layer on a small baking sheet and bake until toasted and golden brown, about 5 minutes; set aside.


Place the eggs in a large bowl and lightly beat to break up the yolks. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes.


Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut, rotate the dish, and bake until the edges are just starting to brown and the top is just set (a bubble may form, but it will flatten as the cake cools), about 20 to 25 minutes more.


Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes before serving. Wrap leftovers tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.


Yield: 16 servings