This is a familiar Chinese New Year dish but I have difficult to trace the origins or even the proper name of the dish from Chinese website. I believed many readers also aware of this delicious mainly vegetable dish which is usually served during the Chinese New Year set menu.
However, a quick check of this year’s Chinese New Year menus of various Singaporean restaurants did not yield any results. Possibly, it becomes an out dated dish due to its humbler ingredients and new dishes are being introduced.
Previously, it was common to have this dish as the vegetable dish because it is auspicious to eat napa Chinese cabbage aka 白菜 which is only common during the Chinese New Year period in the olden days. But nowadays it is available all years round. Eating 白菜 or napa cabbage means 百财 or literally translated as hundred fortune.. That may also explained why many families new year reunion dinner dishes have this dish.
To make it classier, usually a type of black moss called Fa Cai (发菜） or Fat Choy in Cantonese. This vegetables bring auspicious meaning of Fat Cai aka Fatt Choy (发财）or lots of fortune. Therefore the combination of these two ingredients have an auspicious meaning of 发百财 or bring the diner hundred fortune in the coming year.
This is an easy to do dish. The deliciousness of the dish will very much depends on your meat broth used for the stewing and steaming. In fact you can use any seasoning to assist the flavouring of the dish such as abalone sauce, oyster sauce or other sauces that you like. For this illustration, I have used Japanese Dashi stock which personally I think blends well with the scallops added to dish.
The dish is delicious and family like the soft texture of the napa cabbage. The only regret I have is to use the green leaves napa cabbage from Korea which after steaming resulted in an ugly dark greenish colour. Therefore, I will advise readers to use the traditional Chinese cabbage which is prettier after steaming. As for the arrangement of the leaves, use your imagination and creativities to design one that you liked but of course you can use my illustration as a reference.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 4-6 adult servings
- One small to medium napa cabbage
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 6 pieces of big scallop
- 8 pieces of shitake mushrooms , soaked until soft
- 2 packets of dashi stock or any flavouring of your choice such as oyster sauce
- 5 cups of water
- 5 grams of Chinese black moss (发菜）
Note: All the quantities stated here are for reference. The quantities of cabbage will very much depends on the size of your serving bowl and hence your related seasonings required.
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Cut and wash the cabbage leaves. Set aside.
- In a pot, heat up 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, sauté the mince garlic until fragrance. Add the water, scallops and dashi stock (or oyster sauce) followed by the mushrooms. Bring to boil and once it boils, add the napa cabbage leaves. Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes until the cabbage is almost soft. Drain the leaves, mushrooms and keep the broth.
- Select your steaming bowl and grease the bowl with some cooking oil to facilitate later inversion.
- Line the cabbage leaves in your desired pattern followed by the mushrooms and scallops. Fill the bowl with more cabbage leaves until same level with the height of the bowl. Pour the vegetable broth on top until the bowl is full. Keep the remaining broth if there are excess.
- Steam under high heat for another 15 minutes and once steam, keep it until before serving.
- Before serving, invert the bowl into your serving plate and gather all the vegetable broths that flows out.
- Put all the vegetable broth in a pan, add in the Chinese black moss and bring to boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and gradually pour the starch solution into the pan. Stir until the sauce thickens. Once the sauce thickens, drizzle the sauce on top of the inverted steamed vegetable and the dish is best served hot as one of the side dishes of Chinese New Year reunion dinner.
This is not a difficult dish but it is a meaningful and presentable dish to be served at Chinese New Year reunion dinner. Remember that you can use any meat broth and also any type of seasoning for the dish. What I am sharing is actually a concept rather than a full recipe since there are lots of variation.
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