Friday, November 9, 2007

The Real Thing: Foochow Preserved Vegetables (Chow Chai)

My Great Grandma (Tui Ma) came from a generation of superwomen. During those days, you buy nothing & you make everything. So if you have to rear, plant, sow & make everything yourself, imagine the amount of living skills & knowledge you'd have if you live in that era. You'd be a walking & living encyclopedia. With that kind of skills, you'd even be able to fight crimes & save the world from hunger.

I never had the chance to acquire all this from my Tui Ma. But fortunately for me, there's my Grand Aunt, Yi Po. She inherited all my Tui Ma's superpowers. And I shall learn all & everything from her & rule zee vorld!!! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!! (That sounded like Greg for a while there)

Usually early on in the year, when the vegetable crops were in abundant, Tui Ma would sun dry and preserve them to make Chow Chai, which can be taken at the end of the year. She would pack them tightly in clay URNS (Horror beyond horrors, it's the URN again!!!!) and place a few clean wood as stoppers, flip it over on a bowl and let it sit for a whole year. Imagine, preserved like that for a whole year.

Preserving vegetables and also pickling them is a common practice for many Asians like Chinese, Japanese and Koreans. Some of this process is simple while others involve a huge amount of work. All this ensures that there will be freshest possible food and vegetables on the table during those cold winter months when nothing much grows.

All this really amazes me - the ingenuity of all those ladies that have gone before us and their love for their family to provide a good nutritious meal at whichever time and season of the year. God does have a specific role for women~ to love and nurture their husbands and families. They have done it well, & this always makes me reflect on my self to do as well as they have.

Chow Chai is considered as simple perserved vegetables with a sour taste, which is really appetizing to eat. In my previous blog, i gave the theory of making this item. The steps are actually really simple.

1) Clean well and sun dry some mustard greens (kua chai) for a day or so. Choose the fresh leafy ones. If you have the longish type, it is even better. No need to be too dry as no water will be added.

2) Rub some salt and Ang Chow, which is the residues separated from the Foochow Red Wine during the fermentation process of making Foochow Red Wine. Rub generously like 3 no of Kua chai with 1 1/2tbsp of salt with 1 heaped tablespoon of Ang Chow.

3) Place in a clean bowl with tight lid such as pyrex type. Sprinkle some salt on top to prevent mould from growing. Cover and leave in a cool place for a week or so.

4) Chow Chai is ready when it turns dark green-yellowish and taste really sour.

5) Before eating, wash the chow chai well and rid of the ang chow. Chop to small pieces, and i mean CHOP, not blended. Season with some Foochow red wine and keep in airtight container. You can freeze some portion to ensure freshness.

So give it a Go! Give it the Greg-&-Nee-on-the-Go kinda Go!


Roger said...

Is that what is in the urn?
Btw, I noticed that you have google advertisement in your blog. Do you know you can monetize your blog if you join google ad sense network?

Explore this and it could be your way to sit at home and watch the money rolling in.

Greg Wee said...

Nee: Nay is not la...

btw i have no idea about all the money making stuff. greg is the one who keeps track. i just want to have fun and write and document my stuffs. i dont want to cook and forgot how i cook it last time hai...

Greg Wee said...

Yeah we're oredi moneytizing. Sitting there and watching the o.o1 cent trickling in so slowly that they don't seem to be moving. It's like having constipation & sitting on the toilet bowl waiting.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

thanks for the chowcai in advance. what r u going to do with so much chowcai huh? i've heard you can cook it with duck?

Roger said...

Well it depends on the popularity of your website...If you can get huge number of people to come and somehow click on the website, it can be substantial.

Baby Sam said...

I think this blog will grab PRETTY GOOD TRAFFIC! Just give it some time. It is a great blog.

delia said...

one of my foochow friends taught me to dry fry the chow chai then keep in air-tight container in fridge. she says can last very long but she din season with red wine. can this method be used?

NEE said...

hi delia, that is what most people do. but you would notice that if you fry it first and keep it, it has a very 'oil' taste if you dont use it immediately. really kill the chow chai taste and sourness will be practically gone. if you dont like you chow chai soup not so sour then this is ok.

if not season with red wine and even better a little white vineger. they last as long. and sourness is enhanced.

delia said...

Thanks Nee. Will try your method. Just made my chow chai.

Anonymous said...

I love reading this!! :) I envy your yi po! Wish I could learn all the skills!

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