Saturday, February 27, 2010

Loh hon chai/chai choy/Buddha's delight recipe

This recipe is a traditional mixed vegetarian dish that is typically devoured on the first day of CNY. I have grown up loving this dish since I was a child and it was a treasured dish to savour as I only got to eat it once a year in my grandmother's house during Chinese New Year. The typical vegetables in this dish are carrots, mushroom and chinese cabbage(one can also add choy sum or cauliflower) but the highlights are the other ingredients such as tau foo pok, dried lily bud, fatt choy (symbolising prosperity), beancurd sticks, gingko nuts, fried tau kan, black fungus and glass noodles. The final product is a mouthwatering slightly sweet and savoury dish that goes perfectly with a bowl of piping hot rice. The dish actually tastes even better the next day as flavours from the sauce seep into the vegetables and other assorted ingredients. The main essential ingredient to the sauce that distinguishes it is the red fermented beancurd. Added condiments include shiitake mushroom vegetarian oyster sauce, shao xing wine, sesame oil and sugar. I made quite a generous portion of this dish to save it for the next day and I must admit I was rather pleased that it turned out really well for my first attempt and received the thumbs up from both my parents.

Recipe for loh hon cha/chai choy/Buddha's delight:


about 7 - 9 cloves of garlic (about 1/2 bulb), chopped
2 walnut size shallot, chopped
about 3 - 4 small squares/ 1.5 large squares (40 - 50g) of red fermented beancurd 紅腐乳/ 南乳 (hong fu ru/ nam yee), mashed with 2 tbsp of the red pickling juice(I used 4)
2 tbsps MAGGI® Shitake Mushroom Vegetarian Oyster Flavoured Sauce
1 tbsp MAGGI® Light Soy Sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp shao xing wine
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp white pepper
about 1/4 cup of cooking oil (less if you preferred down to about 3 - 4 tbsp)
1 cup water/200 ml (I ended up using a lot as I had a lot of ingredients so I used 200ml mushroom soaking water and 200 ml chicken stock)

8 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked and halved
1 lb Nappa cabbage, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
6 - 8 pieces Fried tofu (tofu pok) - halved
3 long pieces dried bean curd (foo chook) - soaked and break into small pieces
75g black fungus - Wan yee - soaked
30g lily bulbs - soaked and tied into knots
16 precooked gingko nuts
40g presoaked glass noodles
10g presoaked fatt choy

1) Heat some oil and fry 1/3 of the minced to a golden hue, then throw in the hard part of the cabbage to be mixed with the garlic oil. Fry for a few seconds then follow by the leaves of the cabbage. Fry until the leaves collapse and the moisture is dispelled from the leaves, about 5 minutes. Scoop out and set aside.

2)Heat oil then add garlic and shallot and fry for about 2 minutes till fragrant. Then add mashed fermented beancurd and stir for few minutes till fragrant.

3) Add shitake mushroom and beancurd stick, carrots, gingko nuts, lily buds, tau foo pok and stirfry for 3 minutes.

4) Then return the cabbage and stir fry mixing well. Add some of the water, bring to the boil, add the seasonings, then reduce heat, cover with lid and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Adjust taste (may need to add more red beancurd if not enough flavour).

5) Then add in the glass noodles and fatt choi. You need quite a bit of liquid for the noodles to absorb while they cook. If not enough add more water/stock. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes till bubbly hot, do not cook too long or the noodles will be very soft. Simmer until sauce has thickened and add enough sesame oil and ground pepper to taste. (I thought my dish was slightly dry so next as I still had about 100ml reserved so next time I'll add in the remaining stock/liquid).

*Always add in the longest to cook items first then the rest, can add in stages.

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