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Braised Napa Cabbage and Mushrooms (台式白菜滷)

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The Braised Napa Cabbage and Mushrooms, or more commonly known as “白菜滷” in Chinese word, is a Taiwanese style vegetable stew. I learned this dish from my Taiwanese coworker as she always likes to cook it. I think it is so much different to our style of cooking and I decided to give it a try. The main ingredient of the dish is the napa cabbage. You can add other ingredients to the pot, some common ones are carrots and all sorts of mushrooms. You can also add pork strips for a more complete pot dish to your meal, or opt out for a vegetarian style.

Eric did not get used to eat this dish the first time when I cooked it, because he didn’t like the cabbage being cooked to that soft texture. But after a couple of tryouts and changes to the recipe, now we enjoy this dish very much. Sometimes we will cook a pot and just goes with white rice, that’s how good it is. I used some dried shrimps and lots of garlic to sauteed the vegetables, that will add more flavors and also a nice fragrant to the dish. Seasoning is also very important to create a tasty sweet broth. Do not overcook the napa or it will turn out too mushy, so be watchful of the time and heat.

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Stir-fried Cabbage with Dried Shrimp

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Cabbage is a popular leafy green vegetable that can be easily found in the food market. I like cabbage because of its natural sugariness and of course it has to be cooked or boiled in order to tenderize the leaves to release the sugar. Cabbage is broadly consumed raw but I am not so into eating it in this way except for coleslaw or maybe in salad occasionally. This is because I don’t like the sharp or bitterness taste that sometimes present in the cabbage.

Mostly I like to use cabbage to make soup but today I’ve cooked it with dried shrimps. Dried shrimps are commonly used in Chinese cuisine for its extraordinary flavor that covers the bitterness, saltiness, sourness, sweetness and savoriness (or so-called “fifth taste”). That’s the reason I used it to stir fry with cabbage to make an easy and pleasant homey dish. I loved it and you should try it.

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Buddha’s Delight Stir Fry Vegetables (羅漢齋/ 齋菜)

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It had been a fun and busy long weekend filled with luncheons, dinners and friend gatherings for the celebration of Tiger Year. On the other hand, I had a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner with my lovely boyfriend. Everything was just great. Here once again, I wish everyone a good start in the Chinese New Year and wish all the couples a happily ever after (有情人總成眷屬).

On the first day of Chinese New Year, I’ve prepared the well known vegetarian dish so called the Buddha’s Delight or lo han jai (羅漢齋). It is traditionally consumed by the  Buddhist monks who are vegetarians. However this dish has grown popularity over the years and now can be found in most Chinese restaurants for serving. For Buddhists who are not solely vegetarians will also practice vegetarians on the first and fifteenth day of the month based on the lunar calendar. Therefore this vegetarian dish has become more and more popular and eventually become a traditional dish for the Chinese New Year.

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Pork and Cabbage Dumpling (豬肉水餃)

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Chinese dumpling or Jiaozi (餃子) is one of the traditional yet popular Chinese dishes prepared during the festive season of Chinese New Year. Maybe not for the Malaysians, but for Chinese (especially from Northern part of China) or Taiwanese, this dish is usually served during the Chinese New Year Eve or some other family get together occasions. This is because the dumpling is shaped like a yuan bao (元寶), a traditional money used during the Ming Dynasty, that means good luck, wealth and prosperity.

Being born and raised in Malaysia, I never have dumplings really. Until I attended  university in the United States, my Chinese and Taiwanese friends would make these delicate dumplings for me. And I must say once you’ve tried it you will love it. This Chinese Lunar New Year falls on the 14th of February which is also the Valentine’s Day. You can learn to make this recipe ahead and prepare for your family or loved ones just in time.

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Lion’s Head Meat Balls (獅子頭)

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Have you ever tried those over-sized pork meat balls? It is a popular Shanghainese dish which is called the “Lion’s Head Meat Balls”. The reason for naming them the “Lion’s Head” is because of the meat balls are made in huge size, about 7-10 cm (3-4 inch) resemble the lion’s heads based on the Chinese legend, while the cabbages look like the lion’s mane.

I like how the meat ball is combined with seasoning and the water chestnut for the extra crunchiness. This time I’ve put in some pan fried tofu into the soup for an extra variety of vegetable in the pot.

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Lama Kitchen is a food and cooking blog fills with savory food with great cooking recipes and ideas for those of you who love food and home cooked meals. Read more