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Welcoming the Year of the Pig

Welcoming the Year of the Pig Posted on 5 February, 2019Leave a comment

Having a bite of taro cake “gao” 「糕」it is a New Year ‘pudding’ which symbolises onwards and upwards, especially important for growing children and aspiring young people.

This year is our first year celebrating Chinese (or Lunar) New Year as a family in Hong Kong. As a child, it was the best time of the year, when I would receive plenty of red packets (money in small envelopes) and have extended play with my cousins. But as I grew older, as with many other festive occasions, it became one of those events which heightened the confusion and sorrow I had as a growing teenager, splitting the time between my estranged parents and their respective extended families.

Eventually when I became a young adult, these festivities made a come back for me with renewed meanings. Perhaps it was a sign of maturity, but I began to find interest in the cultural significance of these practices, especially when life led me to other opportunities outside of home to the UK.

One of the more important things that I think a lot about these special occasions, is no doubt the food which is eaten. Especially since my grandmother passed away, I have found myself with a strong desire to re-create many of the festive dishes she would prepare at different times of the year. There would be deep-fried sesame dough balls (she would always ask me to bring some home as they were my mum’s favourite), mini peanut pasties and this vegetarian dish in fermented soy bean curd sauce eaten on the first day of Chinese New Year – as meat is traditionally forbidden in line with Buddhist traditions.

Now with easier access to some of these ingredients, I have decided to have a go at making this vegetarian dish called “南乳齋煲”. Provided that all of the ingredients are available, it is surprisingly easy to put it together.

Assorted vegetables, mushrooms and glass noodles with fermented soy bean and oyster sauce

Take:

2tbsp vegetable oil

1 clove garlic

5cm piece stem ginger, sliced

1 spring onion

100g black fungus (cloud ear) (reconstituted if dried), halved

300g fried beancurd puffs (I mixed the red and regular ones for a bit of festive cheer)

80g baby corn, halved

60g Shitake mushrooms (reconstituted), sliced

80g carrot (1/2 from leftovers), cut into small pieces

80g enoki mushrooms, diced

300g Chinese cabbage, shredded

200g glass noodles (reconstituted)

2tbsp red fermented soy bean sauce

2tbsp oyster sauce

1L water

Make:

Heat oil over in a deep pan, then garlic, ginger and spring onion for 1 minute. Add all the other ingredients and mix well over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the sauces and water. Reduce heat to simmer for an extra 10 minutes to serve.

Serve:

Eight adult portions. On its own or over white rice.

Assorted candied fruit, seeds and sweets with our water lily plant to ring in the New Year.

Wishing everyone a healthy and successful Year!

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