The day that I made the stir-fried cumin chicken, my mom decided to make what she called “Chap Chye.” It was the perfect complement to the spice-laden chicken dish. It was flavorful but totally vegetarian. So I decided to write up the recipe today. This is a good way for me to remember it as it is a new recipe for me too.
Vegetarian Chap Chye
When I was deciding to write on it, I asked my mom what to call it and she said “chap chye” so I looked it up on kuali.com to see if they had a similar dish (and also to help me figure out the spelling). What’s interesting is that there were two dishes that were similar but slightly different from my mom’s. One was called “Loh Hon Chai” and the other “Char Chap Chye” and both had components of my mom’s dish but yet were different.
My mom laughingly said that she had probably combined both dishes into her own unique dish. Hey, whatever she did, it sure worked fine! She also said that this dish is really flexible and different vegetables can be used interchangeably.
Grateful for Mom
It’s really good that my mom is here to show me how to make her chap chye. The recipe calls for black (or wood ear) fungus. I insisted that I already had this ingredient at home and we didn’t need to buy more. But I learned that I had the wrong kind of black fungus. Did you guys realize that there were different types of black wood ear fungus? Well…let me enlighten you (now that I’m aware myself).
The one I had at home is thicker and not as good to eat in this stir-fry because it is too hard.
Dried Black Wood Ear Fungus (Thicker Type)
The one I should have gotten is thinner and much better for this application. How can you spot the difference? The thicker one has a white layer on one side and the thinner one is black on both sides of the mushroom. There you go–learn something new! (We used the thicker one anyway and it wasn’t too bad–you just have to soak it for a really long time!!).
I also learned that there were different types of fermented bean curd. When we were shopping at the Asian grocery store, Mom bought this type of fermented bean curd because it was the correct one for this dish (and many others, which I’ll blog about later). I would have avoided this fermented bean curd completely because the color is really, really RED.
Red Fermented Bean Curd
Let me assure you, this fermented tofu isn’t funky or sour at all. Because it’s mushed up and mixed in to the dish, all you get are these slightly sweet, savory and salty flavors permeating the entire dish. It gives this dish the extra flavor punch that turns it from a nondescript vegetarian stir-fry into something uniquely delicious and memorable.
Red Fermented Bean Curd
When I first cracked open the jar’s lid, it made a loud “pooffff!” sound and sprayed out a little of the red sauce. I lifted the lid gingerly. Peeking at the contents of the bottle doubtfully, I asked my mom, “Is it supposed to do that?” She calmly responded matter-of-factly, “Yes, that is fine.”
Mom’s Chap Chye recipe
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small shallots, minced fine
1 cube fermented bean paste (mashed), and 1 tsp of the liquid
4 dry shiitake mushrooms (reconstituted and cut in half), water saved
4-5 whole wood-ear fungus (soaked and cut into same size as cut mushrooms)
Half a head of cauliflower, separated into 1 inch florets
1 large head of broccoli (cut into 1 inch florets)
1 small carrot, sliced 1/4 inch thick (cut designs if desired–no, you really don’t have to–I know I wouldn’t but my mom would). You have my permission to slack on this. ^_^
Flower Design Cut into Carrot Slices
1/2 head from a small Napa cabbage, cut in one-inch lengths
1-2 cans of braised gluten (mock meat), reserve liquid (we like this so we would add more but it’s up to you)
1 tsp chicken bouillon
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1. Heat pan to medium-high heat and add oil. Once oil is shimmering, add garlic and shallots and stir-fry until it is lightly browned.
2. Add in the fermented beancurd and the liquid. Stir around and then throw in the wood-ear fungus and shiitake mushrooms. Stir-fry for a minute.
3. Add in the carrots and stir-fry for 2 more minutes until carrots are slightly tender. If the pan looks dry, add some mushroom liquid (about half a cup) to the pan.
4. Add in the gluten along with the liquids from the cans. Stir-fry for another minute.
5. Throw in the cauliflower and broccoli and stifry to mix. Cover for 1 minute to soften, then add the napa cabbage (if pan is too dry, you can add another half cup of the mushroom liquid here). Add in salt and chicken bouillon to taste. Stir around to mix all the vegetables. Dish is done when all the vegetables are tender.
Mom’s Vegetarian Chap Chye Plated