Hsiao-Ching Chou’s Lucky 8 Stir Fry

Lucky 8 Stir Fry

This mixed vegetable dish takes its inspiration from Buddhist vegetarian cooking and can include any combination of ingredients that represent good luck, prosperity, happiness, family wholeness, and longevity.

Serves4

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Credit: Clare Barboza

Also called the Spring Festival, Lunar New Year falls sometime between January 20 and February 20. In some countries that celebrate the Lunar New Year, people and businesses typically get a two-week holiday break. The tradition — and expectation — is that those who live and work far from their hometowns and families will return to pay respects and celebrate the holiday. On New Year’s Eve, people gather for the reunion feast to share copious amounts of foods imbued with symbolic wishes for health, wealth, prosperity, longevity, and good fortune.

The menu for the reunion feast must include a diversity of dishes from land and sea to represent abundance. For longevity, you serve long-life noodles or rice cake. For good luck, good fortune, prosperity, and wealth, you serve spring rolls, oysters, tangerines, kumquats, pomelo, whole fish, orange beef, dumplings (to eat at midnight), shrimp, and lobster. For abundance and family unity, you serve candies and seeds, lion’s head meatballs, whole poultry, rice, and eggs. You will not leave hungry. And, in fact, the intent is to create leftovers so that there’s no cooking or the use of a knife the next day lest you cut off the good fortune you garnered from the night before.

Eight is a lucky number in the Chinese culture — especially at Lunar New Year. The Chinese word for “eight” is a homophone for prosperity, so numbers with consecutive eights in them represent “big money.” This mixed vegetable dish takes its inspiration from Buddhist vegetarian cooking and can include any combination of ingredients that represent good luck, prosperity, happiness, family wholeness, and longevity. The ingredients also should have contrasting-yet-balanced flavors and textures. You can serve this on any day of the week — especially when it’s Lunar New Year.

Lucky 8 Stir Fry

This mixed vegetable dish takes its inspiration from Buddhist vegetarian cooking and can include any combination of ingredients that represent good luck, prosperity, happiness, family wholeness, and longevity.

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon

    vegetable oil

  • 1 cup

    bean sprouts

  • 3

    inner stalks celery hearts, cut on the bias 1/4-inch thick

  • 4 to 6

    medium dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 2 to 3 hours

  • 1

    medium carrot, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips

  • 1/2 cup

    dried lily flowers, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes

  • 1/2 cup

    dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips

  • 1 cup

    sliced Chinese cabbage or baby bok choy

  • 8

    snow peas, trimmed and cut on the bias into 1/2-inch-wide pieces

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    water

  • 1 teaspoon

    Shaoxing wine, sherry, or dry Marsala wine

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    sesame oil

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    white pepper powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat a wok over high heat until wisps of smoke rise from the surface. Swirl in the vegetable oil and heat for a few seconds until it starts to shimmer. Add all of the vegetables: bean sprouts, celery, shiitake mushrooms, carrot, dried lily flowers, wood ear mushrooms, Chinese cabbage or baby bok choy, and snow peas. Stir-fry for about 90 seconds and then add the soy sauce, water, and Shaoxing wine. Stir-fry for about 1 minute.

  2. Add the sesame oil and white pepper powder. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds more to combine. Turn off the heat. Taste for seasoning. If you think it needs a pinch of salt, add the kosher salt and stir to combine. Transfer to a serving dish.

Recipe Notes

©2021 by Hsiao-Ching Chou. Excerpted from Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food by permission of Sasquatch Books.