A dish of mushrooms with abalone and "fatt choy" (black moss) is a symbolic dish for Chinese New Year (CNY) that's synonymous with longetivity, good fortune and wealth. Abalone (as we all know) is a luxurious (and expensive) item, so most families would eat it only during auspicious celebrations like CNY.
Since my sister-in-law gifted me three tins of abalone this year, I decided to cook Braised Mushrooms with Abalone & Fatt Choy as one of the dishes to grace our Lunar New Year Reunion Dinner in Ipoh! ^o^
2 cans of abalone
2 cans of button mushrooms
Some "fatt choy" (or black moss)
10 shallots (blend till fine)
10 chicken feet
750ml water + 1/2 can of abalone steeping liquid
3 tbsp cooking oil
3 tbsp cooking oil
3 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1/2 tbsp thick soya sauce
1/2 tbsp light soya sauce
1/2 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
Rinse and soak the dried Chinese (or shiitake) mushrooms until well softened. When buying dried mushrooms, choose a size smaller than what you actually want coz when soaked in water they'll increase in size. Therefore, I like to use the smaller Chinese mushrooms as I find them to be of the right one-bite size after rehydration (the bigger ones may end up too big and have to be halved). I like to leave the mushrooms whole for better presentation. Once softened, cut off the mushrooms' caps.
Slice the abalone (from 2 cans) into thin slices as it tends to have a slightly chewy texture. The thinner the slice, the less chewy it'll be when eaten.
The success factor of this dish hinges on the flavourful stock in which the mushrooms are cooked in. So, start by sauteeing the shallots in some oil until aromatic (but not caramelised).
I like to use chicken feet to make the stock as they give the stock a thick texture that you don't even need a cornflour slurry to thicken the stock. You must be wondering why there are some wing tips in the pot. Well, I had 6 wing tips (left from an earlier crispy chicken wings recipe) + I bought a whole chicken (to make curry chicken), so I had 2 chicken feet + 2 wing tips from that and I bought 5 chicken feet. That meant I used 7 chicken feet + 8 wing tips to cook my stock but you can just use 10 chicken feet.
Pour in 750ml of water (that was used to soak the mushrooms in) or, if that isn't enough, just add plain water. Throw in the mushroom caps as well and add your seasonings of oyster and soya sauce. Reduce the stock by simmering it for 30 minutes. Towards the last 5 minutes, you'll see the stock thickening up (this is due to the gelatinous nature of the chicken feet).
Strain the stock by discarding all the chicken parts and mushroom tips which have done its job already. The stock will have this lovely thickness and sheen to it. At this point, I added half a can of the abalone stock to dilute the stock just a bit.
If you think there's too much stock...there won't be. Have more stock than you think you need as the mushrooms tend to absorb more liquid the longer it sits in the stock. The Chinese black mushrooms go in next.
Followed by the canned button mushrooms. Drizzle in 1 tsp of sesame oil + 3 tbsp of Shaoxing wine (or Chinese rice wine) and let it simmer for a further 10 minutes for the flavour to fully develop. Do a taste test of the broth to ensure the seasoning is perfect :)
Finally, the abalone slices and black moss (that has been soaked in water for a few minutes) goes into the pot. Just stir that in and warm them up...and it's ready! Do not continue to simmer the abalone slices (as it'll get tougher) or the black moss (as it'll disintegrate). If this is made ahead of time (and you're particular about the presentation), I suggest you leave out the abalone and fatt choy and warm them up only when you're ready to serve (coz reheating the dish will disintegrate the fatt choy and the sauce will turn very black).
And the must-have auspicious dish at any CNY reunion dinner of Braised Mushrooms with Abalone & Fatt Choy is done.
The mushrooms and abalone take on the flavour of the stock that they're cooked in, so the success of the dish really depends on how awesome your stock is....and this one was pretty awesome (*blowing own trumpet*...haha!). Well, it better be seeing that the stock was made from scratch and with love...hehe! ;)
I liked that the abalone slices were tender and not chewy as I didn't overboil it but just warmed it up in the stock. You get this crunchy texture from the button mushrooms while the spongy Chinese black mushrooms soaked up all the lovely flavours of the stock and spurted out the wonderful juices when you bite into them.
So, my contribution of Braised Mushrooms with Abalone & Fatt Choy to grace the Lunar New Year table is done and packed.....ready for my road trip back to Ipoh.
This is one dish you can prepare ahead of time coz the longer the mushrooms steep in the stock, the more robust the flavour. In fact, it tastes even better the next day (or the day after) if there's any left, that is! ^.^
I think I did pretty alright with the dish judging that it was almost finished on the eve of CNY itself with just some left for lunch the next day. There's still a few more days to go before the 15th day of CNY, so it's not too late to cook this dish...and I hope it gets you 'two thumbs up' from your family and friends! ^_*
Serves 8 - 10