According to Chinese beliefs, eating vegetarian dishes on the first day of Chinese New Year enhances longevity. My grandma's vegetables stir-fry dish with fermented bean curd is one dish I look forward to during this festive season. This is a healthy dish and is very easy to prepare.
The core taste of this dish comes from the fermented tofu which is also known as red fermented bean curd or 'hong fu ru' (紅腐乳). This fermented bean curd variation is made with red yeast rice which contributes a unique flavour. Therefore, it cannot be easily substituted. This vegetarian dish will not be the same without the fermented tofu. It would be awesome if you are able to get all the ingredients but it is totally fine if you miss one or two of them.
Shiitake mushrooms need to be soaked in water for at least four hours to ensure they are soft and tender. The water which is used to soak the mushrooms should not be discarded. It should be added into the dish during cooking.
For a non vegetarian option, you may add six dried oysters for seafood flavours which will further enhance the taste of the dish.
Zhai Choy with Fermented Tofu is also known as: 南乳焖斋菜
Fry dried bean curd pieces in oil until golden brown and crispy. Then, soften them in a bowl of water.
Using the same pan, pour away excess oil and lightly fry chopped garlic at low heat until fragrant. Add fermented tofu (mashed using a fork).
Add water and allow it to boil. Once gravy boils, add shiitake mushrooms, black fungus, dried lily buds, dried bean curd pieces (broken into smaller pieces) and dark soy sauce. Ensure that gravy is enough to cover all the ingredients.
Once gravy boils again, add carrots, glass noodles and Chinese cabbage. Add sugar to taste. For more saltiness, add salt or another cube of fermented tofu. Let the dish simmer for another 10 minutes or until all ingredients soften.