Yesterday was the 7th day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as 人日. It is said that on this day, humans were created. Thus it is considered as everyone's birthday. In Singapore, on the 7th day, we eat 'Yu Sheng' (Yu Sang or 鱼生). It is a cold dish, served with various type of shredded vegetables (radish, carrots, turnips, etc.) and raw fish (usually salmon or 西刀鱼). They are then tossed with oil, plum sauce, five spices, peanuts, sesame and crackers. People also call this 'Lo Hei' (捞起), symbolises 'prosperity' (捞得风生水起), not in terms of waistline of course.
For us, on the seventh day of Chinese Lunar New Year, my family will also cook this soup (七样羹) , made up of 7 types of vegetables and more. I am not sure if all Teochews do this but my family does. So to keep the tradition alive, I would want to blog about this soup. 羹, should be thicker than soup, however, my mom and me seldom cook till the soup is thickened. This would mean hours of cooking and the nutrition values of the vegetables will be gone by then. Normally, we will cook this dish with pork ribs. But this year, I am not required to do any cooking on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, I did not stock up my fridge. The butcher was not open so I used chicken breast instead.
Below are the 4 must have ingredients in this soup. The other 3 or more, you can add in as you like. I used kale, chinese leeks, cabbage and carrots this year. You can add radish, mustard greens too.
Bai He Cai (Bek Hak Cai, 百合菜) They are only available once a year during Chinese Lunar New Year. It symbolises unity in family.
Chun Cai （Chung Cai, 春菜）, they are too, available only once a year but can still be found 2 to 3 months after Chinese New Year. I'm not too sure what it symbolises, spring, perhaps?
Chinese Celery (芹菜）symbolises being industrious and spring onions （葱）symbolises smartness （聪明).
Radish or carrots (白菜头/红菜头） symbolise 好彩头 (auspicious beginning). Chinese leeks (蒜）symbolise 有的算 (wealth to count).
It is just a humble dish with lots of good intentions in it. After 7 days of feasting, it is also time to detox our body. I usually take this soup alone with nothing else.
7 Vegetables Soup (七样羹)
1 Chicken Breast, remove skin, cut in chunks and marinate with salt and pepper
2 stalks Chinese Leeks, sliced
1 medium size Carrot, cut in chunks
1/4 cabbage, cut roughly
2 stalks Bai He Cai, cut into lengths
2 stalks Chun Cai, cut into lengths
1 stalk Kale, cut into lengths (the one I bought was huge)
1 stalk Cilantro, cut into lengths
1 stalk Spring Onions, cut into lengths
2 litres Water or Stock
Salt to taste
Some olive oil
1. Heat up a pot, add oil and fry the leeks and sear the chicken chunks slightly. Add in water or stock and bring to a boil.
2. Remove scum and add in carrots and cabbage. When they are slightly softened, throw in Bai He Cai, Chun Cai and Kale.
3. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste, add in cilantro and spring onions and turn off the heat. Serve hot with rice or as is.
I have another recipe coming up; Chikuzen Ni. The similarities are; these 2 are New Year's Day dish (well, Japanese New Year is on 1st January) and uses loads of vegetables. Definitely not for carnivores. Stay tuned. それじゃ～～