Well, it’s Wesak Day and a vegetarian day for me. Kinda of anti-social, though. Everyone is thinking of something fanciful and I would be rolling my eyes to signal, me, me is vegetarian today!
As Agnes and I were anxiously waiting for the rightful ingredients to arrive for our Banana Chocolate Chip Upside Down cake, Agnes had a surprise and needed to entertain visitors for the afternoon. Immediately, the possibility of eating out was crossed out and I was so delighted when Momsie was all game to dish out a simple vegetarian Lui Cha as lunch. I was never a fan of Lui Cha until I met Stevie and married into this Hakka family.
A good Lui Cha needs a great tea broth. Momsie has a secret recipe for this and over the years, this green tea broth paste has evolved. I remember Stevie telling me that our dad prefers the good old fashioned cheap brown tea leaves, salt, basil and peanut paste without the assortment of interesting herbs that Momsie had introduced over time. Anyway, I have never tried the original version but am thoroughly pleased with the current make.
Lui Cha is a traditional must- serve dish on the 7th Day of the Chinese Lunar calendar, whereby you treat guests and neighbours to a handsomely dish assorted with 7 green vegetables, preserved vegetables, dried shrimps and peanuts over a generous herbal broth.
Nowadays, you see all shops claiming to serve healthy, organic and authentic Lui Cha. I find them not as tasty as Momsie’s, I can be prejudiced.
At home, it is a spontaneous and friendly treat. Very forgiving. You can serve with whatever greens you can find and as long as you can have 2 types, a sensible Lui Cha can be served. I think we only have cabbage and green long beans for today’s dish. It was absolutely delicious and hearty.
I liked my Lui Cha served on plain white rice with my tea broth by the side. Stevie likes his with popped rice bathed with generous green tea and peanuts.
It’s absolutely halal and I would really loved to cook this dish for my Malay friends. Although eating Lui Cha is an acquired taste, I am sure many will find this dish healthy and refreshing.
Momsie makes them stock-cubes and frozen for easy future use. This broth paste is probably the most important part of a great lui cha meal. Made from mint and 2 kinds of basil, green tea leaves, sesame seed and peanuts all ground to a heavenly paste. Each family will have their own little secret concoction in terms of the ratio and choice ingredients.
Peanut is a must-have condiment, they make the sober and simple vegetables taste so nice together. I am going nuts.
Although the cubes of stock are already packed with herbs, Momsie makes sure we add in a generous amount of finely chopped herbs that we can pluck from her garden. Agnes has already got a small plot going and growing healthily with these basil and mint.
I have no idea what these herbs are called. I will keep you posted when I have them verified. They smell and taste so aromatic and delicious.
Just need to dice and mince whatever vegetables you can gather. The more the merrier but 2 is great enough.
A simple Hakkachan Lui Cha.
Simple yet wholesome. Warms my heart.