This is another of my family’s most treasured vegetarian dish, proudly named our teochew treasure cabbage（传统潮州包菜）. There may be different versions of this vegetarian dish based on one’s dialect background but this is the one version my family likes so much. It is a precious tradition passed down by my mum, my mum-in-law, their mums and their mums’ mum.
When I was little, I remembered how my mum used to make this dish on the first day of Chinese New Year and all my family members would gather looking forward just to have this when they came visiting on that auspicious morning. And there was just never enough to go around!
Teochew Treasure Cabbage is truly a vegetarian delight and its very easy to prepare. The main fresh vegetable used is the sweet yet crunchy green cabbage and tomatoes which give this dish a distinct sweet and sour taste. The other typical vegetable used is the flavourful dried shiitake mushrooms. However, the highlights are actually the other dried ingredients like the sweet beancurd sheets, dried beancurd skin, glass noodles and the MUST have, fried gluten balls (or gluten puffs).
The final product is a colourful, mouthwatering, slightly sweet and savoury dish that goes perfectly well with a bowl of hot steamed rice. This dish can also be eaten as a one dish meal as the addition of glass noodles and vegetables can make it so wholesome.
Teochew Treasure Cabbage (Chai Choy) 传统潮州包菜
- 500 gram cabbage, cut into thick pieces
- 10 pieces dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked till soft, cut quarters
- 10 gram glass vermicelli/tang hoon, soaked till soft
- 3 sweet bean curd sheets, soaked till soft, cut to thick slices
- 1 cup mushroom water, retained from soaked mushrooms
- 1 tomato, cut into wedges
- 3 dried bean curd skin, wiped, deep fried till golden brown
- 10 fried gluten balls
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce, to taste
- 1 tsp salt, to taste
- 1 tsp mushroom seasoning
- To cook this vegetarian dish, have ready all fresh and dried ingredients needed.
- Also, pre-measure all seasonings required.
- Start by first soaking dried shiitake mushrooms in cold water till soft, about 1 hour.
- When mushrooms have softened, drained well and squeeze off excess water from them.
- Retain the mushroom water for later use.
- Separate the mushroom stems from the mushrooms cap by snipping them off with a pair of scissors.
- Cut the softened mushrooms in halves or quarters and minced the mushroom stems for later use.
- Remove the cabbage leaves, piece by piece and then wash under running water. If you notice any signs of worms or insects, which sometimes appears in cabbage, soak in salt water or vinegar water for 15-20 minutes first. Then drain well.
- Cut the cleaned cabbage into thick slices and set aside.
- Next, soak dried sweet beancurd sheets in cold water till slightly softened.
- Using a pair of scissors, cut into thick slices and set aside.
- Next, soaked dried glass noodles in cold water till soft and drained well.
- Cut tomato into wedges and set aside.
- Then, in a pot of boiling water, briefly blanch the fried gluten balls to remove excess oil in them.
- Drained well and set aside for later use.
- Next, heat a wok with oil over high heat. Insert a wooden stick into the oil. The oil will bubble around the stick when it's ready for frying.
- Once oil is hot enough, fry the dried beancurd skin, piece by piece, till just golden brown. Each piece takes less than a minute.
- Drained the fried beancurd skin on a tray lined with paper towels to remove excess oil. Set aside for later use.
- In the same wok, fry the drained and slightly softened sweet beancurd sheets, till golden brown in colour.
- Remove and drained well for later use.
- Retain 1 tbsp oil in wok, add in cut mushroom caps. Then add in 1 tbsp sugar.
- Stir fry the mushroom caps till fragrant.
- Remove and drained well.
- Then add in the minced mushroom stems and stir fry till aromatic, about 2 minutes.
- Add in the thick slices of green cabbage and stir fry till the cabbage has slightly softened.
- Next, add in the fried shiitake mushrooms.
- Followed by strained mushroom water.
- Then, add in the tomato wedges.
- Add in sugar.
- Followed by salt.
- Also the vegetarian oyster sauce.
- Some soy sauce.
- And mushroom seasoning. Stir fry to make sure all the seasonings are well mixed with the vegetables.
- Next, add in the softened glass noodles.
- Followed by the fried sweet beancurd sheets.
- And the gluten balls.
- Lastly, add in the fried beancurd skin.
- Turn heat to medium low and let simmer covered till beancurd skin has softened, about 5 minutes. And we're done! Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- Serve warm with hot steamed rice. As always, ENJOY!