Mrs. Chen's 10-Veggie Delight for Chelsea Cooks
So happy to contribute this delicious Lunar New Year dish from Mrs. Chen to Chelsea Market's recipe series.
Mrs. Chen makes this vegetarian dish every Lunar New Year Day, following in the footsteps of her mother. "It's a must," she says. Including a cleansing vegetable dish in a feast of dumplings, noodles, and other rich foods is a tradition especially practiced by those with roots in southern China. It's believed that abstaining from meat consumption on the first day of the new year will enhance longevity and that eating a vegetarian dish will help purify the body. In addition, it honors a Buddhist tradition that nothing living should be killed on the first day of the new year.
Each of the vegetables in the dish has a special meaning:
- Dried golden lily buds — fortune, money
- Wood ear and oyster mushrooms — long life
- Carrots — good luck
- Celery — diligence, hard work
- Garlic chives — ability to manage
- Dry bean curd — safety and peace
- Water chestnuts — family unity and togetherness
- Bean sprouts — moving upward, best wishes
- Scallions — intelligence
This dish is simply seasoned with salt to allow for the flavors of the vegetables to shine. And because it's such a large dish, you're sure to have leftovers after New Year Day, which symbolizes abundance for the whole year.
- 1/2 cup (10g) dried golden lily buds
- 2 Tbsp dried shredded wood ear mushrooms
- 2 carrots, julienned
- 2 ribs Chinese celery, julienned
- 6 oz (175g) fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 3 oz (80g) Chinese garlic chives cut into 3" (7cm) segments
- 4 oz (115g) dry bean curd, cut into thin strips
- 8 oz (230g) water chestnuts, sliced
- 2 cups (160g) fresh mung bean sprouts
- 2-3 scallions, cut into 3" (7cm) segments
- 2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil to stir fry
- 1 tsp salt or light soy sauce
Most of these are available at Pearl River Mart Foods.
- In a large bowl, soak the dried lily flowers with boiling water for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours, until softened. Drain and cut off the hard stem at the bottom of the bud.
- In a separate bowl, soak the wood ear mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain or save the soaking liquid for soup stock. Remove the hard stem, if any, and cut into thin strips.
- Heat a large skillet or wok and add a tablespoon of oil. Stir-fry the prepared ingredients in batches, selecting two at a time, preferably ones with similar cooking times. When softened, transfer to a large bowl. You may need to add more oil to the skillet/wok in between each batch.
- Carrot + Celery
- Fresh Mushrooms + Garlic Chives
- Bean Curd + Water Chestnuts
- Lily Buds + Wood Ear Mushrooms
- Bean Sprouts + Scallions
- When all the batches are cooked, return everything to the pan to heat through and lightly season with salt or light soy sauce, tossing to combine. Serve hot or cold.
Save the leftovers in the refrigerator. The dish will last several days and still retain its good flavor.