Saturday, December 12, 2015

25 Days of Blogging- Day 12: Chinese New Year

Hi friends!

Today's festival is Chinese New Year!  This is a very important celebration and occurs at the turn of the lunisolar Chinese calendar.  The festivities begin on the eve of the Lantern Festival , which falls anywhere between January 21st and February 20th.

During the festivities, there are loads of colors, flowers, symbolism (too much to explain in this one blog post...), and of course food.  Much like the Lantern Festival, one of the predominant colors is red, which symbolizes joy, truth, virtue, and sincerity.

A New Year's Eve dinner (called Nian Ye Fan) is held and is very large.  Many traditional foods include meat, but one of the most common vegetarian dishes is Buddha's Delight.  This is a stir-fry plate with bean thread noodles and vegetables.  Although the recipe seems tedious, trust me, it is worth it in the end!!
Buddha's Delight (Lo Hon Jai): Chinese Vegetarian Stir-Fry
Recipe and image Link
  • For the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup reserved shiitake mushroom water (see below)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce; see note above)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • For the Stir-Fry:
  • 1/4 pound Napa cabbage (about 4 leaves), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 pound baby bok choy, large ones halved and small ones left whole
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in cold water overnight or hot water for at least 2 hours; mushrooms squeezed of excess liquic and soaking water strained and reserved
  • 1 bean curd stick, soaked in cold water overnight or hot water for at least 2 hours (see note above)
  • 4 tofu puffs (see note above)
  • 1 3/4 ounces bean thread noodle, soaked in cold water overnight or hot water for at least 2 hours (1 small pack; see note above)
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 5 ounces chai pow yu from 1 drained (10-ounce) can (Chinese braised gluten; see note above)
  • Kosher salt
  • Cooked white rice, for serving
  1. For the sauce: In a bowl, add reserved mushroom liquid, garlic, sesame oil, kecap manis, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Mix well and set aside.
  2. For the Stir-Fry: Bring a wok or pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add Napa cabbage and baby bok chop and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold running water until chilled. Pat dry with towels.
  3. Rinse rehydrated mushrooms under cold running water. Squeeze out excess water and slice thinly.
  4. Drain beak curd stick. Using scissors, cut rehydrated bean curd stick into 1-inch pieces; cut those pieces in half. Cut tofu puffs in half, then cut those halves on a diagonal to form small triangles.
  5. Drain rehydrated bean thread noodle and rinse under cold water. Using scissors, cut the bundle of noodles in half.
  6. In a wok or non-stick skillet, heat oil until lightly smoking. Add chai pow yu, mushrooms, tofu puffs, and bean curd stick. Season with salt and stir-fry until mushrooms are golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  7. Add Napa cabbage and baby bok choy and stir-fry until vegetables are tender, 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Add bean thread noodles to the middle of the wok and cook, tossing and stirring, for 1 minute. Stir sauce and pour into wok. Cook, stirring to coat ingredients, until sauce thickens and the noodles and tofu puffs have absorbed some of it, about 3 minutes. Transfer to plate and serve immediately with rice alongside.