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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vegetarian Chap Chye (Stir-fried Mixed Vegetables)

The day that I made the stir-fried cumin chicken, my mom decided to make what she called "Chap Chye." It was the perfect complement to the spice-laden chicken dish. It was flavorful but totally vegetarian. So I decided to write up the recipe today. This is a good way for me to remember it as it is a new recipe for me too.

Vegetarian Chap Chye

Vegetarian Chap Chye (Stir-fried Mixed Vegetables)

When I was deciding to write on it, I asked my mom what to call it and she said "chap chye" so I looked it up on kuali.com to see if they had a similar dish (and also to help me figure out the spelling). What's interesting is that there were two dishes that were similar but slightly different from my mom's. One was called "Loh Hon Chai" and the other "Char Chap Chye" and both had components of my mom's dish but yet were different.

My mom laughingly said that she had probably combined both dishes into her own unique dish. Hey, whatever she did, it sure worked fine! She also said that this dish is really flexible and different vegetables can be used interchangeably.

Grateful for Mom

It's really good that my mom is here to show me how to make her chap chye. The recipe calls for black (or wood ear) fungus. I insisted that I already had this ingredient at home and we didn't need to buy more. But I learned that I had the wrong kind of black fungus. Did you guys realize that there were different types of black wood ear fungus? Well...let me enlighten you (now that I'm aware myself).

The one I had at home is thicker and not as good to eat in this stir-fry because it is too hard.

Dried Black Wood Ear Fungus (Thicker Type)

dried black wood ear fungus

The one I should have gotten is thinner and much better for this application. How can you spot the difference? The thicker one has a white layer on one side and the thinner one is black on both sides of the mushroom. There you go--learn something new! (We used the thicker one anyway and it wasn't too bad--you just have to soak it for a really long time!!).

I also learned that there were different types of fermented bean curd. When we were shopping at the Asian grocery store, Mom bought this type of fermented bean curd because it was the correct one for this dish (and many others, which I'll blog about later). I would have avoided this fermented bean curd completely because the color is really, really RED.

Red Fermented Bean Curd

red fermented bean curd

Let me assure you, this fermented tofu isn't funky or sour at all. Because it's mushed up and mixed in to the dish, all you get are these slightly sweet, savory and salty flavors permeating the entire dish. It gives this dish the extra flavor punch that turns it from a nondescript vegetarian stir-fry into something uniquely delicious and memorable.

Red Fermented Bean Curd

red fermented bean curd

When I first cracked open the jar's lid, it made a loud "pooffff!" sound and sprayed out a little of the red sauce. I lifted the lid gingerly. Peeking at the contents of the bottle doubtfully, I asked my mom, "Is it supposed to do that?" She calmly responded matter-of-factly, "Yes, that is fine."

Ohh...kay...

Mom's Chap Chye recipe

Ingredients

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small shallots, minced fine
1 cube fermented bean paste (mashed), and 1 tsp of the liquid
4 dry shiitake mushrooms (reconstituted and cut in half), water saved
4-5 whole wood-ear fungus (soaked and cut into same size as cut mushrooms)
Half a head of cauliflower, separated into 1 inch florets
1 large head of broccoli (cut into 1 inch florets)
1 small carrot, sliced 1/4 inch thick (cut designs if desired--no, you really don't have to--I know I wouldn't but my mom would). You have my permission to slack on this. ^_^

Flower Design Cut into Carrot Slices

IMG_7046

1/2 head from a small Napa cabbage, cut in one-inch lengths
1-2 cans of braised gluten (mock meat), reserve liquid (we like this so we would add more but it's up to you)
1 tsp chicken bouillon
1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Method:

1. Heat pan to medium-high heat and add oil. Once oil is shimmering, add garlic and shallots and stir-fry until it is lightly browned.

2. Add in the fermented beancurd and the liquid. Stir around and then throw in the wood-ear fungus and shiitake mushrooms. Stir-fry for a minute.

3. Add in the carrots and stir-fry for 2 more minutes until carrots are slightly tender. If the pan looks dry, add some mushroom liquid (about half a cup) to the pan.

4. Add in the gluten along with the liquids from the cans. Stir-fry for another minute.

5. Throw in the cauliflower and broccoli and stifry to mix. Cover for 1 minute to soften, then add the napa cabbage (if pan is too dry, you can add another half cup of the mushroom liquid here). Add in salt and chicken bouillon to taste. Stir around to mix all the vegetables. Dish is done when all the vegetables are tender.

Mom's Vegetarian Chap Chye Plated

Mom's Vegetarian Chap Chye Plated

Enjoy!

Cheers, Annie

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Hungry for more vegetarian dishes? Click below:

Barley with Fuchok and Gingko Nuts

Sweet Corno di Toro Peppers in Mexican Chopped Salad

Lazy Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Five Quick Asian Dishes: Steamed Shiitake Mushrooms with Bok Choy and Fatt Choy

Five Quick Asian Dishes: Mustard Potatoes

14 Comments:

ICook4Fun said...

This dish kind of remind me of home. My mom will cook this on the 1st day of Chinese New Year. I never knew there were two different kind of wood ear fungus out there. mmmm..I should look for the softer kind.

chhaprahiya@yahoo.com said...

I am salivating looking at the photos and reading the recipe. Mmm ...

Ramya Vijaykumar said...

Interesting post, I have never had anything with beancurd or probably I dont even know that I had them... I should make a filling starter...

Robert said...

I dunno, fermented bean curd, that stuff is pretty potent.

Nate-n-Annie said...

@icook4fun - yeah, I never knew the difference either.

@chhaprahiya - Hi Arvind! *waves* Thanks for stopping by. Did you see, we put up your mustard potatoes recipe?

@ramya - not many people know what to do with a bottle of fermented bean paste. But it is such a powerul flavor, it could be used in many imaginative dishes.

@robert - you said it.

Food For Tots said...

Oh...it looks like Loh Han Chai from the first look. I luv vegetarian food. Your mom is really a fantastic cook! All the treasures in 1 dish. Looks yummy!

Big Boys Oven said...

simple and yet so capturing . . . colour and a ood eye for photography captured!

Anonymous said...

Natto is not nasty.

Nate-n-Annie said...

@food for tots - yeah, but we left out the lily bulbs, fatt choy, and gingko nuts.

@big boys oven - thanks!

@anonymous - ...okay, if you say so... :-P

Ning said...

The fermented bean curd I usually buy is not as red as yours. I hope that's the correct one :)

Corinne said...

delicious! we've just begun exploring "real" asian food (none of this breaded-deep-fried-coated-in-orange-sugar-coating stuff)... this looks about as real as you can get! I still haven't been brave enough to strut into the Asian market down the road, but dishes like this push me farther away from my timidness each time i see them!

Nate-n-Annie said...

@ning - yeah, we don't normally get the red one either. But Mum insisted this is the correct one to use in this dish. Now to figure out what else to use it in...

@corinne - I applaud you for staying away from that Americanized "Chinese" junk food.

Do you have any Asian friends who can help you navigate the Asian grocery store?

Buzz said...

Fermented bean curd can also be used to marinade spare ribs or chicken wings. Its really yummy!

Nate-n-Annie said...

@Buzz - yes, we used some in a braised pork riblet dish we just made. Recipe coming soon! ;-)