Sunday, January 26, 2014

Recipe: Chinese New Year Vegetarian dish (Jai 素)

For those abstaining from meat on the first day of Chinese New Year, a vegetarian dish which is commonly served is Jai 素. This dish is harmoniously made up of loads of auspicious ingredients such as leeks, mushrooms, carrots, dried lily buds and cabbage. My mum would make this for us every year without fail while we were growing up and I love it a lot!

Jai 素

Our choice of ingredients for our Jai 素 include:
a. Chinese or shitake mushrooms symbolises longevity
b. Leeks, a homonym for "counting" (money)
c. Unbroken glass noodles symbolises long life
d. Dried lily buds, also known as golden needles symbolises wealth
e. Carrots symbolises good luck
f. Spring onion, or scallions are symbols of spring. CNY is also known as "Spring Festival".
g. Wood ear fungus, mok yee symbolises longevity
h. Cabbage symbolises prosperity and luck
i. Tofu puff, the golden colour symbolises gold and wealth.

Phew! Is this an auspicious dish or what? ;D

Not only is it auspicious and vibrant, we really enjoy eating this too. Our version is a little soupy, hence we usually serve some longevity noodles on the side.

It's so good, Mr Horse wants some too!

Chinese New Year Vegetarian Dish (Jai 素)
Recipe by Baby Sumo
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes
Serves 4

3 tbsp cooking oil
80g glass noodle (tong fun)
1 shallot, finely sliced
4 mushrooms, sliced or leave whole, soaked for at least 1 hour
15g wood ear fungus (mok yee), soaked for at least 30mins
15g dried lily buds (kam cham), tied in knot and soaked for at least 30mins
25g tofu puff
1 cabbage leaf, sliced thinly
1 inch carrot, julienned
2 spring onion, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 leek, cut into 2 inch lengths
800ml water
2 tbsp mushroom sauce
1/2 tsp salt

1. Heat oil in wok over medium high heat. Once hot, add the glass noodle and fry until crispy, about 2 minutes. Remove and set aside.

The ingredients for the Jai 素

2. Using the same wok, add the shallots and fry for a minute, until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and stir fry it for another minute. Add the wood ear fungus, dried lily buds and tofu puff and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes.

3. Add water, and bring to the boil. Season with the mushroom sauce and salt. Allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes for mushrooms and tofu puff to absorb the flavour.

4. Add the glass noodles (from Step 1) and braise for another 3-4 minutes. If it looks a little dry, you can add some more hot water (100ml) - the final product should have some liquid (a little soupy). Then, add the carrot, cabbage and leeks and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the leeks are cooked though.  Finally, add the spring onions and cook for another 30 seconds. Taste and season with more salt, as necessary. Serve immediately.

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*This recipe was featured on Asian Food Channel's FB page on 27 January 2014.


  1. Ahh nice, we'll be having loh hon jai on the 1st day of CNY hehe

  2. Yes ... I love loh hon chai on cny 1st day!

  3. Nice. I like seeing more vegetarian dishes. I'm trying to eat less meat these days.

  4. Hehe for our Chinese banquet we try and get as many auspicious ingredients as possible too! :D

  5. I love this traditional dish during CNY too. Wishing you a happy Chinese New Year!

  6. I would prefer this dish over 'big' prawns and fish.....


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