Today was the last day of the Lunar New Year celebrations. For lunch I polished off the last bit of “jai” (vegetarian Buddhist monks stew) of the 10 quarts that I made nearly three weeks ago. After not making jai for more than a decade, I was inspired this go-round by watching Auntie Ruby demo in her kitchen for the Chow team. Here’s the behind the scenes action (click on slideshow, then show info):
One of the products she introduced that I’d not seen before was a package of fresh wood ears imported from China. She bought hers at New May Wah and I’ve also found them in the produce section at 99 Ranch in Mountain View and Marina Food in Cupertino. Unlike the brittle and almost crisp-textured rehydrated dried product, fresh wood ears are soft, supple, and verging on jelly-like in texture. They were also larger and thicker, and I used scissors to cut them into quarters. I don’t know if they are available year-round or only now for Chinese New Year cooking. In any case, I’ll be using them again when I spot them.
Auntie Ruby’s abridged recipe is a starting point for me. I add more ingredients, all vegetarian.
Grandma Ruby makes “jai” for Chinese New Year
10122 Bandley Dr, Cupertino, CA
New May Wah
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