Happy Chinese New Year (CNY) to all those celebrating this holiday! Yesterday was CNY eve and I cooked a huge pot of chap chye (mixed vegetables stew) for lunch. I brought the rest to my family’s reunion dinner and I was quite pleased when I hear that my chap chye was delicious, a compliment especially coming from the older folks.
This is a Nonya dish, but my way of cooking is not quite Nonya as it is deliberately not soupy, because I tried to duplicate my mum’s style of dry chap chye which I loved as a kid. This is a popular vegetarian dish to consume during Chinese New Year (and also Vesak Day). The ingredients have auspicious meanings, especially fat choy (dried moss) which sounds like “fatt choi” (striking it rich).
Many of the ingredients are dried goods, so you can stock up your pantry and whip this up quite readily.
You can cook a huge pot with the intention of leftovers, because somehow, chap chye tastes better the next day.
1. Soak Chinese mushrooms, black fungus, fat choy and lily buds in individual bowls of hot water. When softened, drain the water. Remove mushrooms stems, squeeze out excess water and cut to half. Remove the hard portion on the underside of the fungus. Then, cut the rest of the fungus into smaller pieces. For the lily buds, tie each bud in a knot (to prevent fraying).
2. Soak bean curd sticks and tang hoon in individual bowls of water till softened. When the beancurd sticks turn soft and paler shade, cut to smaller pieces.
3. Heat oil in wok. Stir fry chopped garlic & ginger till fragrant. Then add nam yee and mash/chop it to smaller pieces with the spatula.
4. Add cabbage and stir fry till softened (a few minutes).
5. Add Chinese mushrooms, black fungus, lily buds, fat choy, ginkgo nuts, beancurd sticks along with the Sauce (A). Bring to a boil then cover with lid and let the vegetables simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Anytime the water runs dry, you can top up with hot water.
6. When the vegetables are cooked and the water is reduced, add tang hoon and stir the pot to allow the tang hoon to absorb the sauce. Serve with steamed rice.
1. Instead of nam yee, you can also use soy beans paste/tau cheo (豆酱).
2. If it's not CNY season, you may not be able to find fat choy but you can still make chap chye without it.
3. Omit garlic if you are cooking this dish for Buddhist vegetarians.