The Chinese New Year celebration was always the biggest holiday in my family. We would pay the traditional homage to our ancestors by burning incense at the small family altar that stood at one end of the living room. My job was to rub some honey over the kitchen-god poster on the kitchen wall so that he could report only sweet and good things to the Jade Emperor in heaven.
Then the New Year’s food preparation would begin. Certain foods were always served at the New Year table because they symbolized particular good and noteworthy aspirations. Fish, which represents abundance and good fortune, was an essential item; likewise noodles, a symbol of longevity - what good are abundance and good fortune without the time to enjoy them?
My mother, being a good and faithful Buddhist, always made her vegetarian dish, a savoury vegetable casserole that I remember to this day. I have altered my mother’s recipe by using chicken stock; she used water, though a vegetarian stock could be substituted. The bonus is that this dish reheats well.
Cut the bean curd into 2.5 cm (
Cut the Chinese leaves into 2.5 cm (
Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Pour in the groundnut oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, deep-fry the bean curd cubes in 2 batches. Drain each batch well on kitchen paper.
Drain off all but
Finally, swirl in the sesame oil and serve at once with plain rice.
© 1998 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.