Loh Hon Chai (Braised Mixed Vegetables) is a vegetarian dish usually served on the first day of the Chinese New Year. Lots of ingredients and super tasty.
Loh Hon Chai (Braised Mixed Vegetables) is one special dish for the Chinese New Year. We always have this dish for breakfast on the first day of the New Year. Grandma used to be the one preparing this dish for the clan. When she passed on, Mom took over since Dad is the eldest son. All our relatives would come visit and enjoy this vegetarian meal at our house. Today, I continue this tradition with my family here in the United States.
Different Versions of Loh Hon Chai
Loh Hon Chai comes in many different combinations. Some are colorful with carrots and snow peas thrown into the mix but the sauce is always cooked with fermented red soybean curd which gives it its characteristic flavor. The only fresh vegetable we include in our family’s recipe is napa cabbage. The rest are reconstituted dried vegetables as listed in the recipe card below.
I do cook Chap Chai (Mixed Vegetables), a simplified fresh vegetable stir fry which is quick and easy to prepare. The vegetables may vary according to preference. I do not use fermented red soybean curd in this stir fry.
Preparing Ingredients Ahead of Time
Do not let the long list of ingredients in this recipe deter you. This dish may take a little effort to prepare but I assure you it is totally worth it. There really is nothing quite like it. You can prepare most of the ingredients ahead of time. Fry the bean curd sheets and store them in airtight containers before the New Year. Then, prepare the dried ingredients and keep them in the refrigerator the night before. On Chinese New Year morning, mince the garlic and cut up the napa cabbage and you are ready to cook.
If you live here in the United States, you should be able to find most, if not all of the dried ingredients at the Asian groceries in the big cities. The only ingredient that is a little more challenging to find is fatt choy (dried sea moss) but it can be omitted. The dish will still taste amazing without sea moss.
I usually prepare a big wok of this Braised Mixed Vegetables on Chinese New Year morning so that we can enjoy it throughout the day. It actually tastes even better after all the ingredients have had a chance to soak in the fermented red soybean sauce. Serve it with steamed rice and a side of cut red chilies soaked in soy sauce for a truly satisfying meal. Do give it a try.
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- 2 oz dried lily flowers / kum chum / kiam chiam (60g)
- 12 dried red dates
- 0.7 oz dried black fungus / wan yee / bok nee (20g)
- 0.17 oz dried sea moss / fatt choy (5g)
- 1 bundle glass vermicelli / tong fun / tung hoon
- 12 dried Chinese mushrooms
- 1 pkt peeled ginkgo nuts (3.5 oz/100g)
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil (divided)
- 1 pkt dried bean curd sheets (6 oz/170g)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 6 cubes fermented red soybean curd / nam yee
- 1½ cups mushroom soaking liquid (360ml)
- 1 can braised gluten / chai pow yee (10 oz/285g)
- 1 pkt fried gluten balls / meen kan (1.76 oz/50g)
- 6 slices napa cabbage (10 oz/285g)
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- Trim the hard ends of dried lily flowers and tie a knot in the center of each strand.
- Soak dried lily flower knots, dried red dates, dried black fungus, dried sea moss, glass vermicelli, and dried Chinese mushrooms in separate bowls until soften, about 20 minutes. Chinese mushrooms may take longer. Once soften, rinse and drain each ingredient.
- Cut off the stems of Chinese mushrooms. Then cut the caps into halves. Place back into the bowl and soak again in 1½ cups (360ml) water. When ready to cook, remove the mushrooms and reserve the soaking liquid.
- Remove peeled ginkgo nuts from packaging. Rinse, drain, and set aside.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large wok. Fry dried bean curd sheets one sheet at a time until they blister and turn golden brown. Remove and break into smaller pieces. Set aside.
- Add remaining 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil into the wok. Saute garlic for 30 seconds.
- Add fermented red soybean curd. Mash and fry with spatula for 2 minutes.
- Add prepared dried lily flowers, red dates, black fungus, Chinese mushrooms, and ginkgo nuts. Stir fry to get all ingredients coated with fermented red soybean curd.
- Pour in reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Bring liquid to a boil.
- Add braised gluten, fried gluten balls, and fried beancurd sheets. Cover and braise for 20 minutes. Open and stir every now and then.
- Add napa cabbage and continue to stir fry until napa cabbage has wilted.
- Pour in another ½ to 1 cup (120ml to 240 ml) water if it appears to be a little dry.
- Do a taste test. Add salt if needed.
- Finally, add prepared glass vermicelli and sea moss. Continue to stir fry until glass vermicelli and sea moss are softened and cooked, about 5 minutes. Turn off stove.
- Transfer to a large dish and serve with steamed rice.