February 17, 2010

Mom's lunar new year specialty

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I'm back from Taipei, with a bunch of goodies from home as usual.  Given that I didn't bring mom any Indian aster (馬蘭頭) from Hong Kong, I didn't have any special wontons in my luggage today.  What I do have is a box of the specialty that mom makes every year for the festivities.

I don't know if anyone's invented a name in English for it, so I'll just call it the Perfect Ten (十全十美) as some people have called it.  Mom actually calls it by the common name of 什錦菜 as it's made from 10 different types of vegetarian ingredients.  I think the ingredients vary depending on the recipe, but the ones that mom uses are:

shiitake mushrooms (冬菇), black fungus (黑木耳), daylily (金針), hair moss (髮菜), dried bean curd (豆干), celery (芹菜), carrot (胡蘿蔔), bean sprouts (豆芽), winter bamboo shoots (冬筍) and spicy preserved mustard greens (榨菜).  Some of the ingredients are chosen because their names have auspicious meanings in Chinese - hair moss (髮菜 rhymes with 發財, meaning "get rich") and bean sprouts (another name for 豆芽 is 如意, meaning "wishes fulfilled") in particular.

It's a laborious process to make this dish, and I try to help out whenever I can.  Each of the ingredients is stir-fried separately, then tossed in a big wok/bowl to make sure they are mixed properly.  I always end up helping mom do the mixing, since it'll always end up being a big pile of stuff in the wok and become pretty tough to toss.

We always serve it at the family dinner on new year's eve, and each time we have guests over during the new year period.  It's the one dish I always want to bring back, because it's a little bit of home.  With the exception of the few years I was away at school, I've always had it from as long as I can remember.

This is another dish that I need to learn to make...


Anonymous said...

this reminds me of Michel Bras' gargouillou... the Chinese had it all along!!

Peech said...

...the Chinese presentation is nowhere near as beautiful as the French!


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