Monday, 23 January 2012

Vegetarian Dish

First day of Chinese New Year must eat vegetarian dish, its a custom for many Chinese families. My mum cooks the best vegetarian dish and I have yet to see a better dish elsewhere. This recipe was passed down from my Paternal Grandmother, my mum was in charge of cooking it every year ever since my grandmother passed away. We would usually eat this dish for breakfast and have the leftovers as one of the dish for dinner. Its a jumble of textures and flavors, very satisfying; soft, juicy, slippery mushrooms and fungi, chewy bean curd sheets, the arrowroot and waterchestnuts add a bit of crunch, yums.

The dish includes various ingredients such as mushrooms, bean curd sheets (deep fried the night before), knotted lily buds, black fungus, dried oysters (re-hydrated into gigantic proportions), arrowroot bulbs, water chestnuts, Chinese cabbage, glass noodles, fatt choy (a type mossy algae that sounds like the Chinese word for prosperity) and flavored by Nam Yue (red fermented bean curd). The ingredients and method of cooking this dish varies from one family to another, some would have less ingredients, some would have more, and some flavors their dish with soy sauce or oyster sauce (like my maternal grandmother would), but I think those cooked in Nam Yue taste the best. We would bring a pot over to my grandpa's place where relatives would gather there to eat this dish.

There is also another fond memory attached to this dish: during my high school days, there is once a small program in our class where each group of students needs to bring 2 different traditional dish as cultural studies. My team will bring the Tang Yuan (glutinous rice balls in sweet soup) and this vegetarian dish. On that day itself, my mum gladly cooked this and packed it into a large Tupperware for me to bring. During the program, everyone crowded around the Tang Yuan and other dishes, but non came over to my place. It was rather disappointing, and I'm quite sad that no one appreciate my moms effort. My best friend comforted me, she said, 'its okay, we'll eat it all by ourselves'. While we were helping ourselves, some classmates come over to try the dish, after they did, more crowded at our place and some even came back for seconds, proclaiming that its the best vegetarian dish they've tasted. Imagine how proud I am of my mum's vegetarian dish, I went home that day recalling the whole story to her and it made her day as well.

One of these days, I'm going to learn how to cook this and pass this recipe down.

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