Scholar dishes

Scholar Dishes (状元肴)

Scholar dishes

“Two important dishes to be eaten on the 1st day of school to symbolise an auspicious start of formal education for schoolers”

How your cooking and dishes would help in your kid’s studies? Nothing about supplementary food or valuable nutrients in the food you cooked, it’s purely a personal belief, or called it a superstition in our family…

This is a traditional belief inherited from family, to have the scholar dishes eaten on the first day (or second) of school.

I called them the inteligent dishes (聪明菜) as the Chinese pronounciation of  inteligence (聪) and scallion (葱) are the same as “cong”. After taking the dishes to symbolise a good start of school on every 1st day, hopefully the kid will become a scholar in due. So, I have also personally named the dishes as scholar dishes. Whatever you called it, just get the dishes cooked and be eaten by the kid, regardless it helps or not, or you may call me a superstitious freak, I believed that at least it does sort of boost up the confidence level of the kid that she/ he is now becoming cleverer, after taking these auspicious dishes (laughing). It plays a mental support role, too.. In fact, I believed in this ritual, partly because it was “proven”. :)

Tofu and spring onion

Ingredients (Dish 1)
1 block of tofu, slightly firmer type (suitable for stir-frying use)
1 stalk of scallion/ spring onion (葱), cut into 2″ long crosswise
½ small cup of chicken broth or water (about 100ml)
1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
1 teaspoon of oyster sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt and grounded white pepper
1 teaspoon of corn starch with 1 tablespoon of water, made into corn starch slurry
4 tablespoons of cooking oil (for sautéing use, it’s optional!)

Pig's liver with spring onion

Ingredients (Dish 2)
1 piece of pig’s liver (about palm size big), thinly sliced
1 stalk of scallion/ spring onion, cut into 2″ long crosswise
2 small thin slices of old ginger
2 teaspoons of Shao Hsing Hua Diao rice wine (绍兴花雕酒)
2 teaspoons of oyster sauce
1 teaspoon of light soy sauce
½ teaspoon of dark soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
Pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 pot of water (for quick blanch)

Method for Dish 11) Cut tofu into chunk cubes. Gently pat-dry tofu with kitchen towel/ paper.

2) Heat wok with oil over high-medium fire. Add tofu and sauté till lightly crisped and browned. Remove from wok and drain on kitchen towel. Set aside.

3) Discard excessive oil and leave just a little of it. Add garlic and stir-fry till fragrant and lightly browned. Reduce heat to medium fire, and then, return tofu to wok. Add chicken stock (or water), and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes. Then, add white pepper, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. Gently stir-fry to mix well.

Taste check. If prefer more briny taste (especially if using water instead of broth), add pinch of salt. Otherwise, omit it.

4) Add scallion into the wok. Stir-fry a little together with the rest of the ingredients. Then, pour in cornstarch slurry and gently stir-fry to thicken the sauce. Dish up and serve.

Method for Dish 2
1) Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Heat off when boiled. Place cleaned pig’s liver slices on a strainer, and then, plunge liver in the hot water on the strainer, for 10 – 20 seconds. Shift the strainer occasionally to have the liver blanched more evenly. Drain and set aside.

2) Heat wok with sesame oil over high fire. Add garlic and ginger, stir fry till fragrant. Reduce heat to medium-low fire, add scallion adn stir-fry a little. Then, return pig’s liver to wok, and immediately drizzle Hua Diao rice wine. Then, quickly add in dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar, stir fry quickly (to retain moisture and tenderness) to mix well. Dish up and serve with hot steamed rice.

A decent portion of dish 1, the Stir-fried Tofu & Spring Onion, counts about 100kcal. Mild briny taste of the tofu dish, it is never too sinful to eat more. Sautéed version counts about 180kcal. As for dish 2, simply a dish of Stir-fried Pig’s liver with Scallion/ Spring Onion and Ginger in Dark Sauce, it counts about 270kcal. Taste of this dish was robust and aromatic.

Tips: Do not blanch the pig’s liver for too long to avoid hardening. You have to also cook the liver quickly in order to retain its moisture and tenderness.
* If find it too dry in the wok half-way cooking the pig’s liver dish, you may drizzle some water to moist it.
* Use the whole stalk of scallion including the whitish part, just need to trim away the sandy roots part.

[Post Note: Latest adaption.. Sautéed tofu was indeed more delicious than non-sautéed ones. It has completely absorbed the essence of the sauce and makes it much more tastier. To view new photos of Dish 2 and more photos, log on to my FaceBook Fan Club now. :)]

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