This is one of the super auspicious Chinese New Year vegetarian stir-fry dishes, that we have all year long. Mainly because it is seen as an one-pot dish for lunch, dinner, tomorrow’s lunch and dinner. The dish can basically last all week. The dish is cooked in big batch, as a lot of ingredients are used, even if you use only a little bit of each, you would end up with a big pot of food that you might need to distribute to your neighbors, drivers, mall’s security guards and parking attendants.

Since mother is getting a bit forgetful by the year, every time she cooks this dish, she would leave out one of two ingredients. I don’t know if it is done intentionally or not. Let’s not turn that stone. This is the most complete version, with everything that is supposed to be in there, is in there. My mother learned this from my paternal grandmother. My grandmother didn’t leave a lot of cooking knowledge to her, but this is the one that my father always requests and we all love. She is in a good place now.

I always find it odd how a lot of food item considered auspicious in Chinese cuisine are dried. It is a question I don’t know whom to ask that to. The chap chye uses many dried food items. Some needs to be soaked. Others need to be soaked, then fried, then soaked again.

A lot of ingredients to be prepped. I’d start with dried ones. Black fungus needs to be soaked for an hour before using, till it fluffs up and fully hydrates. Cut off the middle part that’s tough, it is never delicious. Brown dried bean curd skin is soaked till soft. Mushrooms is to be soaked till soft and cut off the stem, then sliced thinly. Gingko nuts are to be cracked open and the thin brown layer of skin to be carefully peeled off.

Fresh ingredients to be prepared are cauliflowers, choy sum or any Chinese greens, cabbage and carrot.

Besides dried bean curd skin, we also use fresh bean curd skin. They come in the shape of rolls consist of carefully rolled thin skin. Cut these into bite sizes.

And the most important seasoning is fermented bean curd. Mother thinks the one on the left is the best one she ever had so far, hand-carried all the way from China.

Inside the little jar you would find small cubes of funky smelling bean curd.

Now the frying game begins. Deep-fry the soaked dried bean curd till crunchy. Drain on paper towel and set aside for later use.

Deep-fry fresh bean curd skin pieces.

Make sure they are dried and crunchy. Drain and set aside.

This is how they look like when they are all nicely fried.

This is one of the ingredients my mother always forgets! Glass noodles or tang hoon gives the dish the nice slippery texture. Soak glass them for 30 minutes till soft.

Heat oil in a cooking wok. Stir-fry mushroom slices and add sugar and salt.

Combine gingko nuts, carrot slices and brown bean curd skin into the wok. Stir-fry quickly until all ingredients are well combined.

Add the deep-fried bean curd rolls into the wok.

Use the back of a spoon to mash fermented bean curd cubes into thick paste. Add a bit of hot water to make this easier.

Add the paste into the wok.

Enter the fresh vegetables.

And black fungus.

Add a cup of hot water into the wok.

Season with salt, sugar and light soy sauce.

Lastly, throw in glass noodles.

Cover the wok with its lid, lower the heat and let simmer slowly.

When all the vegetables shrinks and all well cooked, add a tablespoon of sesame oil for a final touch, which gives the dish the nutty flavor and much needed gloss.

Serve with steamed rice and steamed rice only. And some chilies.


Cantonese Vegetarian Chap Chye

Makes 6-8 servings


5 dried Chinese shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced thinly
50 g gingko nuts, fresh with shell on or canned
50 g dried brown bean curd skin, soaked and deep-fried
200 g fresh bean curd skin rolls, cut into bite sizes and deep-fried till crunchy
30 g fermented bean curd (2 cubes)
150 g cauliflower, cut into smaller florets
100 g carrot, sliced medium thickness
250 g napa cabbage, cut into 5cm length
150 g choy sum, or Chinese greens, cut into 5 cm length
15 g black fungus, soaked
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 cup water
50 g glass noodle, soaked and drained
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup cooking oil


Heat cooking oil in a wok big enough to hold all the ingredients.
Add mushrooms and stir-fry for one minute, season with sugar and salt.
Combine gingko nuts, carrot slices and deep-fried brown bean curd skin into the wok. Stir-fry for another minute.
Add deep-fried fresh bean curd skin roll pieces and fermented bean curd paste. Stir-fry quickly to combine the paste with the rest of the ingredients.
Add the rest of the ingredients and water. Season with light soy sauce and mix well.
Lower heat and covered. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Remove lid and add sesame oil into the dish.
Give the vegetables a good stir.
Remove from heat and serve warm with steamed rice.

Related links

Indochine Kitchen Chinese new year dishes

Vegetarian chap chye – The Little Teochew

Chap chye mixed vegetable stew – Noobcook

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8 Responses to “Cantonese Vegetarian Stir Fry, Chap Chye”

  1. 1

    Mali — June 24, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

    waaaa… looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing your recipes and the posts are just gorgeous!

  2. 2

    Pierre — June 24, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

    Hey Jun, This is very old school. Though, I never actually know how to make it.
    I wonder what’s the difference of great red fermented beancurd and just usual ones? Cos I usually use it to make roast pork (babi merah).
    And Fresh beancurd skin? I haven’t seen it before. The skin is like the best part! Hahaha

  3. 3

    TasteHongKong — June 24, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

    Yes, I always find this a great dish for tomorrow, day after tomorrow … since the flavors simply develop more.

  4. 4

    Yi @ Yi Reservation — June 25, 2011 @ 8:19 am

    Fermented bean curd is such a underused ingredient in Chinese cooking. Many of my Chinese friends from “North” have never heard of using fermented bean curd as a cooking ingredient.

    So far I have only used it for stir frying vegetables such as water convolvulus but this recipe sounds just like what I’d like to try. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. 5

    Nami @ Just One Cookbook — June 25, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

    This dish will make me very happy. I’m not a vegetarian, but I need vegies more than water. Looks sooo delicious with all kinds of ingredients! I didn’t know there is a Cantonese version of chap chye (Korean right?). Looks yummy!! I especially love bean curd…my dim sum favorite. =)

  6. 6

    mycookinghut — June 26, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

    Lovely!! This is my all time favourite!

  7. 7

    Tina (PinayInTexas) — June 27, 2011 @ 10:31 am

    I love the combination of ingredients! Really healthy and yummy!

  8. 8

    chinmayie @ love food eat — June 29, 2011 @ 10:01 am

    This looks so good! I remember some of the vegetable dishes I had in Hanoi! It looks colourful and tasty…

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