Gong Xi Fa Cai and happy “Niu” year! Let’s cook chap chye!
Learn to cook Chap Chye!
We have cooked chap chye for the auspicious reunion dinner this year.
While it literally means “mixed vegetables” in Hokkien, this is not the regular carrot-snow peas veggie dish you see at chap fan (economy rice) shops.
Instead, this braised vegetable dish is usually cooked and eaten on the first day of Lunar New Year. Almost every family has their own version of chap chye.
Types of Chap Chye
The mix of ingredients differ depending on your dialect group – the Cantonese tend to use fermented red beancurd (nam yu 南乳) as an aromatic, while the Nyonya or Hokkiens prefer fermented yellow beancurd (taucu 豆醬). Some add gingko nuts, carrots, and even belacan! There’s also the Korean japchae 잡채 which bears similarity in name and ingredients.
However – there are a few key ingredients for chap chye – napa cabbage, mushrooms, beancurd skins, and glass noodles to absorb all the flavours.
Taucu and dried shrimps
For our recipe, we use taucu and dried shrimps as savoury aromatics. We also added black moss (fatt choy, which means prosperity in Cantonese) but some do omit this from their dish. While it contains some nutitions, it is tasteless and is usually added for its auspicious name.
Lily bulbs and beancurd
However, we especially love adding dried lily bulbs (kim chan in Cantonese) as they add texture and floral aroma to the dish. We also like to use a mix of beancurd skin and beancur sticks (fuchuk in Canto) for a more crunchier texture.
While the long list of ingredients may look intimidating, it’s actually not difficult to cook this dish. Our recipe breaks down the instructions into key steps – so you can get it done in less than two hours. Taste-wise, imagine a rich vegetable dish of varying but complementing texture and flavours. It tastes even better the next day!
To make it vegan/vegetarian, just omit the dried shrimps.
Key steps in pictures
More recipes for Chinese New Year
Looking for more recipes to cook for Chinese New Year? Check our our Nine Recipes for CNY below.
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Chap chye 杂菜 [Recipe]Course: Lunch, DinnerCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Easy
Easy step-by-step recipe to make delicious chap chye.
700g napa cabbage, cut into bite-size pieces
12 red dates
10g dried black moss (fatt choy 髮菜)
3 tbsp cooking oil
- To soak first
30g black fungus (wan yee 云耳)
80g dried beancurd skin and sticks (fuchuk or tau kee 豆皮)
8 dried shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and cut into thirds
30g dried lily bulbs (kim chan 金针菜)
60g glass noodles/mung bean noodles (tang hoon 冬粉)
30g dried shrimp, minced
6 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
4 shallots, minced
2 tbsp fermented yellow bean (taucu 豆醬), pounded
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2-3 tsp salt to taste
1 cup water from soaking shiitake mushrooms
1 cup water
- Soak ingredients
- Soak all the “soak ingredients” in water in separate bowls until they soften – for about 20-30 minutes.
- Before soaking dried lily bulbs, tie them into knots.
- After soaking, cut black fungus and beancurd skin/sticks into bite-size pieces.
- Remove stems of shiitake mushrooms and cut the caps into thirds. Retain the water used to soak shiitake mushrooms. Water used to soak other ingredients can be discarded.
- After soaking, mince the dried shrimp.
- Prepare other ingredients
- While soaking the ingredients above, cut napa cabbage into bite-size pieces.
- Also, mince shallots and sliced garlic into thin slices.
- Use a pestle and mortar to mash the taucu into a paste.
- It’s fry time!
- Heat up cooking oil in a wok over medium high heat. Fry the garlic and shallots until fragrant for about 30 seconds.
- Add the dried shrimps and fry until fragrant. Then add the taucu paste.
- Add the black fungus, beancurd skin, shiitake mushrooms, dried lily bulbs, red dates and napa cabbage.
- Add the light and dark soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Mix well and finally add the water retained from soaking the shiitake mushrooms, and another 1 cup of water.
- Let’s braise and serve!
- When the liquid begins to boil, reduce to low medium heat. Cover with lid and let it cook for 20-30 minutes. Check and stir occasionally, and add water if necessary.
- When napa cabbage has softened, do a taste test and add salt or water if necessary.
- Finally, add the black moss and noodles. Mix well. The noodles will absorb the liquid and flavours. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until moss and noodles have softened.
- Transfer to a large dish and serve!