According to Chinese beliefs, eating vegetarian dishes on the first day of Chinese New Year enhances longevity. My grandma's vegetable stir fry dish with fermented bean curd is one dish I look forward to during this festive season. This stir-fry dish is healthy and very easy to prepare.
Since 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 special flavour. Therefore, it cannot be easily substituted. This vegetarian dish will end up as any other stir-fry dish without the fermented tofu. Try to get most of the ingredients but it is totally fine if you miss one or two of them.
Shiitake mushrooms have to be soaked in water for at least four hours to ensure it is soft and tender. Use the water which is used to soak the mushroom for natural flavours.
For a non vegetarian option, you may also add six dried oysters for seafood flavours which will also better 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 fried bean curd pieces in a bowl of water.
With the same pan, pour access oil away and lightly fry chopped garlic until fragrant at low heat. Add fermented tofu (mashed using a fork) to the pan.
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 must be enough to cover all the ingredients. Otherwise, add more water.
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.