Earlier this week, I was telling hubby my plans for our Chinese New Year meal when he stopped me mid-sentence and said –
“It is not a 100% Chinese thing. Other countries and nationalities celebrate it too – the Koreans, Japanese, Indians, etc. The proper term is Lunar New Year.”
Ahh, I see.
So… Happy Lunar New Year!
Going back to my plans for our special celebratory meal…
Braised Mushrooms and Scallops… Steamed Glutinous Rice… and (my version) of 佛跳墙 or Buddha Jumps Over the Wall Soup.
My grandparents came from the Fujian province about 80 years ago and resettled here. Over the years, there have been various versions of the soup that I have enjoyed (both home cooked and restaurant bought) the most luxurious version of which is/was the one at the Emerald Garden. But it has been many years and the price has tripled since the last time (before 2015 for sure).
It is said that the “true” dish has thirty (30) ingredients including the most expensive and/or rare such as abalones, Jinhua ham, shark fin, scallops, sea cucumbers, etc. seasoned with at least twelve (12) condiments. But I cannot fathom 30 EXPENSIVE and/or RARE ingredients (or condiments so I make do with what I can get… 18 ingredients, 8 condiments! And while the authentic one is a double boiled soup, I don’t have the equipment for that so I used the next best thing… my slow cooker!
My 18 ingredients –
- abalone (2 kinds)
- shark fin (faux)
- scallops (dried, whole)
- sea cucumbers (frozen)
- pork tendon
- native stewing chicken (whole)
- pork leg (1 kg)
- dried Chinese mushrooms (15 pcs.)
- erynggi (5 pcs.)
- abalone mushrooms (1/2 of a large whole)
- lotus root
- bamboo shoots
- taro (1 large piece)
- chestnuts (12 pcs.)
- quail eggs (2 dozen)
- ham (150g)
- Baguio pechay
My 8 condiments –
- red dates
- goji berries
- star anise
- whole peppercorns
In the “olden” days, (my mom told me) that preparations for the soup began a whole week before! But these days it is a bit easier with frozen foods that are already cleaned and prepped so in my case…
Preparations began 2 days before –
First by making the stock… place all the condiments in the slow cooker pot, as well as the whole chicken and the pork leg (sliced after being parboiled). Set the cooker on high and cook for 3 hours. Set to low and cook another 5 hours.
After the soup has cooled, strain everything and refrigerate the stock. Shred the chicken and pork (set aside half for other use).
Begin soaking the abalones. Change the water every 4 hours. Soak until the abalones are sufficiently rehydrated.
Move them frozen stuff to the refrigerator to thaw them slowly.
One day before –
Prepare the other ingredients that need soaking such as Chinese mushrooms, scallop, etc. Hard-boil the quail eggs, cool then peel the egg shells off.
Slice the taro into large cubes and fry until half done.
For the soup stock, any fat should be solid on top of the stock. Skim off the solidified fat.
On the day itself, start early in the morning by reheating the stock and seasoning it to taste.
Prepare the rest of the ingredients (slice pork tendons into manageable pieces, slice the mushrooms, ham, bamboo shoots, etc.)
When everything has been prepared, start layering the soup ingredients in the slow cooker pot – start with the lotus root, then the taro, then the bamboo shoots, then the ham, then the chicken and pork, then the (3 kinds) mushrooms, tofu, chestnuts, and quail eggs, then the pork tendons.
Lay some Baguio pechay on top and arrange the abalones, scallops (careful so they don’t fall apart), sea cucumbers and faux shark fin.
Carefully ladle the soup into the slow cooker pot only until the stock reaches the Baguio pechay leaves.
Set the slow cooker on low and let cook for at least 8 hours.
Serve and enjoy!