Monday, February 8, 2016

Chinese New Year Food That Americans Can Serve On Halloween

Content submitted by: Jane Ong

Can you guess what this is by looking at the photo?  This is Pig's Hand Stew In Southern Chinese Miso, Chinese name is 南乳炆豬手, Cantonese phonetic: Nam Yue Mon Chue Shau. (I call the sauce miso because it's made with the same principles of fermenting the bean curds, but in this case, Red Yeast Rice is used for the fermentation).

I went to one of my favorite dim sum places yesterday and I discovered this off-the-menu special dim sum dish just by talking to the table next to me.  The couple at that table recommended this to me because they said I got to have the "must-have" Chinese New Year dish that was supposed to bring prosperity and wealth in the coming year.  Then I remembered my parents always had the dish called "Unexpected Wealth On Hand"  every Chinese New Year when I was growing up.  This is the dish that is made of stewed Pig's Hand with some special hair-like vegetables called Fat Choy, which has the similar sound as "Getting Rich" in Cantonese.  The sale and harvest of this vegetable has been banned by China since 2000, because the mass  harvest of it had allegedly caused desertization, which is bad for the environment.  There are now simulation fat choys in the market, and due to the huge demand for the real thing, there is actually a black market selling the real fat choys.  This sounds crazy.  I had it every now and then when I was a kid and it tasted nothing special to me. The vegetable had actually no taste at all, it's  like  extremely  fine glass noodles, but black in color.  

So when I ordered this special pig's hand stew, I was expecting it to come with the pig's hand and also some veggie (veggie has the similar sound of "Fortune" in Chinese).  But it turned out there were just the pieces of the pig's hand.  I took one bite and I spitted it out because it got the subtle  funky smell and taste like the fermented  bamboo shoot in Japanese Ramen.   I never liked this kind of smell and taste because it reminds me of "urine"...  I suspect that it's either the quality of the Chinese miso that was used, or the quality of the pig's feet.  It could be that the pig's feet wasn't thoroughly blanched and treated before being stewed. 

I used to love this stew when I was a kid. Last time I had it was a few years ago at a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong.  It tasted so good, and not fattening, yet it was really tender.  Back then, I loved the sauce so much I actually boxed it up to bring home to dress my steamed white rice.  I had never had this dish in America, but now that I tried, I don't think I will order it again.  But if you know which Chinese restaurants in America makes great Pig Hand's Stew in Southern Chinese Miso, please let me know.

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