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When we spoke with Stevie Vu, creator of Chow Down in Chinatown, he shared several recipes suitable for Lunar New Year celebrations, all from cooks within his own family. This recipe for the ‘9 Vegetables of Fortune’ comes from Angie Lintott. Stevie describes Angie as “a happy vegetarian and runner who celebrates and embraces her Texan and Chinese roots through food and friends. You’ll find her often running on the Lady Bird Johnson trail in Austin, Texas with her Malamute, Piper.”
The Wang Family “9 Vegetables of Fortune” Dish – 如意菜
We have passed this down by word of mouth from generation to generation on my maternal side. Each New Year, this dish brings our family together over various phone calls debating and recalling which of the 9 vegetables are the correct vegetables, which is good fun. Making this dish evokes memories of my mother and grandmother. When I make this dish, I feel a special connection to them.
This dish has special meaning for Lunar New Year: Nine (九) is a special number; phonetically it sounds like the word for lasting/a long time ( 久). Eating this dish is auspicious in hopes of long lasting fortune to the family.
During Lunar New Year, health is an important wish this time of year, and a go-to greeting for anyone, young or old (身体健康). This is a healthy dish to start the New Year on a healthy/good energy note.
When preparing this dish, do not rush. This is one of those ‘Love is Food’ dishes. Bring patience and peace to the heart. Be present and intentional prepping each vegetable. Consider the generations of family that came before you.
- In separate warm bowls of water, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms, dried wood ear, dried lily flowers for 15-20 mins to rehydrate them. After 15-20-mins, drain each. Reserve the water; do not toss
- Prep the fresh vegetables (you may use a chef’s knife or a mandolin): Thinly slice or julienne carrots. Thinly slice or julienne celery. Thinly slice the dried bean curd. Thinly slice bamboo shoots (if using canned bamboo shoots, drain and rinse with fresh water)
- In a large clean wok, after the wok is hot, pour in 1-2 tables of vegetable oil
- Stir-fry each of the fresh vegetables with a pinch of salt separately (carrots, then celery, then bean sprouts), starting with a clean wok each time.
- Stir-fry the shiitake mushrooms. You do not want the vegetables to get mushy. Think about stir frying them just to ‘al dente’
- In a large clean wok, after the wok is hot (use medium-high heat), pour in 1-2 tables of vegetable oil. Toss in the rehydrated wood ear, lily flowers, shiitake mushrooms to warm them up for 1 min.
- Add in 1/2 cup of the reserved water in which the shiitake mushrooms were soaking in.
- Toss in the package of pickled radish, gently stir-fry together.
- Toss in the carrots, celery, bamboo shoots, dried bean curd, continue to gently stir-fry (careful not to break apart the bean curd).
- Toss in the bean sprouts, just until softened.
- Add a pinch of salt if needed. Pile onto your favorite dish and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil
Shiitake mushroom. These are quite fragrant, umami-heavy mushrooms. To release the most fragrance, place the sliced mushrooms on the pan, give them space, and do not move them. Let them sit for 1-2 mins, until just slightly brown, not burnt. Then flip to the other side. Smell the fragrance.
Carrots. Because this is harder root, after you have julienned your carrots, put them in a bowl of water and microwave on medium-high heat for 60-secs
You can eat same day, or let the flavors marinate and serve the next day.
As you enjoy this dish, feel the good fortune and good health embracing your family, friends, and yourself for the year to come.