As I’ve blogged about Bak Chor Mee which represents half of my heritage (Teochew), it’s only apt that I balance it up with the other half today: Something Foochow. Which is really a subcategory of the entire Fujian (Hokkien) cuisine. There really isn’t much information available on the interweb about Foochow food, but I’m sure some of you might be familiar with ‘Red Wine Mee Sua’ (also called Ang Zao or Hong Zao as phonic translation for 红糟), Ang Zao Chicken (红糟鸡), Kampua Mee, or even Chao Zhu Mian (炒煮面). Some of these dishes haven’t even been properly named in English. The dish I’d talk about specifically today is one example.
Zao Cai Fen Gan (糟菜粉干), as you might notice the word Zao (糟) made another appearance. It actually refers to remnants of the Red Glutinous Rice Wine that is often homemade in Foochow household. Zao Cai is basically Mustard greens preserved with those remnants red rice. That’s why it has a unique fragrance of the wine. It’s also fabulously sour, perfect for a piping bowl of soup noodles with Fen Gan, a thick type of Rice vermicelli. There are many ways of cooking this dish but the basic would be just with the preserved vegetable, and pork (or chicken). Nowadays, there are prawn and fish version too but I feel that simplicity is best when it comes to traditional dish like this.
The basic ingredients shouldn’t be too hard to find. Check your local supermarkets/Asian grocery stores.
For a best tasting bowl of Zao Cai Fen Gan, the secret weapon is actually some good quality homemade rice wine. I had some brought over by my mum, made by my beloved Grandma. But failing that, a good Shao Xing wine would be a good substitute too.
Putting together this dish isn’t difficult at all. In fact it takes nothing more than 15 minutes if you have all the ingredients ready.
Dry Fen Gan enough for 2
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 Pack of Zao Cai (Preserved Mustard Greens)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
600ml Chicken Stock (Homemade or store bought)
1/4 cup Rice Wine
1 tomato, cut into wedges
1 Chicken Breast, cut into bite size pieces and marinated in wine, salt and pepper
Green vegetables of your choice, I used Bok Choy
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 chili padi, chopped
Optional toppings: Fish balls, Fish Cake, Prawns, Fish fillet even.
In a small pot, fry garlic and Zao Cai in a little bit of sesame oil. Add tomato wedges and chicken pieces at this point to stir fry for a further 3o seconds and then pour in the stock and wine.
Meanwhile, soak the Fen Gan in hot water for 4-5 minutes until slightly soften. Drain and set aside.
When the soup has been boiling for more than 10 minutes, season with soy sauce. Add the drained noodles and cook for further 2-3 minutes until noodles are just al dente. Add green vegetables (they only really need a minute of blanching as they continue to cook in the soup when served) and cut chili. Taste the soup and add salt if needed. And then you are ready to serve!
By the way this is super effective as a hangover cure too. I hope this little write up has given you a little insight into Foochow cuisine. Do you know of any other Foochow dishes? Do share!
The Street Party for Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at Sid’s Pub was a blast! Shall blog about it as soon as I get my hands on some more photos! Here’s one sneak preview: