Pan Cai (King-Sized Bowl of Mixed Vegetables)
This is a traditional Cantonese New Year dish, especially among village people. They fill a huge bowl by layering all the ingredients in it. The idea is to serve the whole table or even the whole village on a designated day. Common ingredients are daikon, mushrooms, fried tofu and napa cabbage.
- 4 oz. firm tofu
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying, plus 2 Tbs. for stir-frying
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 2 Tbs. bean paste
- 8 oz. peeled daikon, thinly sliced
- 8 oz. peeled jicama, thinly sliced
- 8 oz. peeled lotus root, thinly sliced
- 4 oz. napa cabbage, cut into 3-inch by 1-inch pieces
- 4 oz. carrot, thinly sliced
- 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 cups water
- 4 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. mushroom soy sauce
- 1 Tbs. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbs. water
- Drain tofu, and press out excess moisture. Cut tofu in half horizontally, then cut each section into triangular shapes. Set aside.
- Heat enough vegetable oil to deep-fry tofu triangles over medium-high heat. When oil reaches 325F, deep-fry tofu until golden brown, remove from oil with slotted spoon and place on bottom of serving bowl.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok over medium heat. Stir-fry garlic for 30 seconds, and add bean paste. Add daikon, and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from wok, and set in serving bowl.
- Stir-fry jicama for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from wok, and set in serving bowl. Repeat with remaining vegetables, stir-frying one by one in sequence and continuing to layer in serving bowl.
- Add water, soy sauce and mushroom soy sauce to wok. Continue cooking over medium heat. Stir in cornstarch mixed with water, and cook until sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat, and pour over vegetables in serving dish. Serve hot.
The Chinese have been brewing beer for 5,000 years, so a good, cold Chinese Tsingtao beer would be appropriate. For wine, Vanessa Lim suggests the pale, dry, yet full-bodied Pinot Grigio Santa Margherita from Italy.