CNY dish: 七样菜 Stir Fried 7 Vegetables
Every 7th day of Chinese New Year (also called ‘Ren Ri’ ; 人日), Ah-mm will tell me to go and buy 7 types of vegetables for her to cook 七样菜. 人日 is literally ‘human day’. According to Chinese legend, 女媧 created different animals on different days. Humans were created on the 7th day after she created the world, so Ren Ri is also known as everyone’s birthday. Don’t be surprised if a Chinese wishes you ‘Happy Birthday’ on this day!
Some markets will pre-pack the 7 assorted vegetables for you so you don’t end up with big bunches of everything. Ah-mm says there’s no hard and fast rule as to which vegetables go into the dish, but she insists on having Chinese leeks (大蒜), pronounced ‘da suan’, which sounds like calculating (money).She also always got some 春菜 (mustard greens) but it’s kinda hard to find. My 7 types of vegetables this year:
1. Chinese leeks (red leeks)
2. Spring onions
6. Puay Leng (Chinese spinach)
7. Xiao Bai Cai
You can add in some meat slices like lean pork, but I added bak gwa this year hehe. Slice the bak gwa into strips and fry them together with the leeks, chives and celery in the beginning, so that the entire wok has the smokey fragrance of bak gwa. But watch the fire to prevent burning. I like them a bit charred though!
CNY dish: 七样菜 Stir Fried 7 Vegetables (budgetpantry.com)
Serves: 4-6 as part of a Chinese meal
What you need:
6 stalks Chinese leek
2 sprigs spring onion
4-5 stalks chives
4 stalks celery
8 leaves napa cabbage
Handful of Chinese spinach
3 bunches xiao bai cai
1.5 slice bak kwa, cut into strips
5 cloves sliced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 tablespoon mushroom seasoning
(note: above is agaration. you can simply use a handful of each type of vegetable)
Chop the vegetables into 1-inch length thereabouts.
Heat the oil in a wok. Fry the garlic, leeks, chives, celery and bak kwa for a few minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables on high heat.
Sprinkle in the mushroom seasoning, mix well and dish up. If you have some fried garlic, you can also sprinkle some on top before serving.
Ren ri, Jade Emperor and you’re older than you think
Yusheng from Peony Jade Restaurant styled for the Year of the Pig. The seventh day of the Chinese New Year is commonly referred to as “ren ri”, which is “everyone’s birthday” and is celebrated by eating yusheng here.
Dreading the comments of “concerned” relatives during Chinese New Year can make you feel like you’ve aged prematurely. But according to the Chinese way of reckoning your age, you’re really older than you think.
In the Chinese culture, newborn babies are considered to be already one-year-olds. It is believed that a baby’s age reckoned from its time in the mother’s womb onwards. Compare this to Western or Westernised societies where the child is considered to be one only at the first anniversary of her or his birth.