Spring is in the air! According to the lunar calendar that is...i know some of you are still bracing one of the harshest winter out there, my thoughts are with you. The Chinese will be celebrating the beginning of a new lunar year aka the Spring festival on 31st January this year which is in 3 weeks time!
It is the time where family and friends gather and when we gather we feast! And feast in style we do, we give dishes auspicious names in hope that they will bring us luck, fortunes and happiness when eaten :) May sound humorous to some but it's part of our culture and i find it pretty interesting to know how/why is a particular food considered auspicious.
This dish that i have tried out here is a all in one meal. This recipe by Chris Wan caught my attention in the recent issue of Flavors magazine. Upon doing a search, i was glad to find that she has included the recipe on her website. It's auspicious enough to be included in the list for the reunion dinner (the dinner on new year's eve) but it maybe too much since there will be many other dishes that will go better with white rice instead. Probably consider making it when you need to dish out something quick during one of the days during the festivity especially when all these ingredients are readily available since these are common CNY gifts.
The name given to this dish is 8 treasure rice. We Chinese love the number 8 primarily because its pronunciation sounds like 'to prosper'. And treasures? I don't think it needs any explanation, anyone in the universe would love landing on some treasures. So, here are the 8 treasures hidden in it and their auspiciousness (hope i am not wrong):-
- Shitake Mushroom - associated with longevity
- Dried Oysters - its chinese pronunciation 'hou si' sounds like good events ie symbolizing good events ahead
- Chinese Sausage - more of a culture to eat cured eat during CNY and perhaps symbolizing a sweet year ahead i guess since its sweet :)
- Pumpkin - its golden hue for prosperity
- Sweet Peas - symbolizing unity
- Dried Longan - associated to bringing forth many sons
- Wolfberries - to sweeten the year ahead
- Chestnuts - associated to bringing forth many sons (yes, again!)
With such an array of ingredients in it, you can be assured it is going to be delicious.
Source: Flavors Magazine Jan 2014, recipe by Chris Wan with some slight variations from me in blue
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 100g sweet peas
- 50g wolfberries (wash, soaked for 5 minutes and drained)
- 100g gingko nuts, boiled for 20 minutes to soften (ready to eat chestnuts)
- 100g dried oysters, soaked 30 minutes to soften
- 50g dried mushroom, soaked for 1 hour to soften, then cut into strips
- 100g dried longans, washed, soaked for 10 minutes to soften and drained, cut into halves
- 100g bacon, cut into 1.5cm strips (replaced with wax sausage)
- 200g pumpkin, cut into diced
- 2 tbsp dried shrimps, washed, soaked for 10 minutes then chopped coarsely
- Some fried whitebait for garnishing (optional)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 20ml water
- 300g rice (2 cups)
- 200ml vegetable/chicken stock (enough stock as per instruction on rice cooker for 2 cups of rice)
- Heat up oil in a small frying pan then sauté sweet peas with wolfberries for 1 minute.
- Remove and set aside.
- Heat up another 1 tbsp oil in frying pan then sauté oysters, dried shrimps, mushroom, sausage and pumpkin.
- Add in salt, light soy sauce and water.
- Simmer for 5 minutes or until pumpkin is cooked then set aside.
- Cook rice in rice cooker. (Taking a leaf out of the Japanese chestnut rice recipe, I added in chestnut to cook together with the rice).
- When stock is fully absorbed, add in condiment A, spread out evenly on top of rice and cook for a further 10 minutes. (Left it for 5 minutes only)
- Once rice is cooked, fluff up the rice and mix the ingredients. (I added in condiments B before mixing up the rice and left everything in the rice cooker for another 5-10 minutes before serving)
- Add in condiments B and mix well before serving. (Completed in step 8)
- Serve garnish with some fried whitebait.