Chinese mustard green (gai choy in Cantonese) is a much sought after vegetable during Chinese New Year, simply because of the leftovers of pork, duck or chicken meat after a sumptuous reunion meal, which could be cooked with assam keping and dried chili to make the delicious sheen lart choy (or sour and hot vegetable dish which most Chinese would like to imagine how chop suey originated). It seems, according to one story which comes to mind, some Westerners went too late into a Chinese restaurant for food when most items on the menu were unavailable. Upon insistence to cook up something, the cook just mixed the leftovers to come up with chop suey!
Anyway, I like the one prepared by Pin Sum Restaurant in Menglembu during lunch time. But I was disappointed last Sunday, when what was served turned out to be white cabbage instead and with something else like curry powder added which put me off. With this in mind, when my wife called up a friend in Pusing to buy 5 kg. of gai choy at whatever price, I warned her that there could be a shortage because of CNY and it takes time to grow some. She was right in saying that the price could be too high for a restaurant to offer as a dish, when her friend called up this morning to say that she has bought 5 kg. at Rm7! Btw, don't believe what we see on tv about government officials checking prices on controlled items over festive seasons. Reality is such that supply and demand in the most basic form is the order of the day, and when in great demand, it is a seller's market with a 'take it or leave it' attitude.
What was the reason for this sudden interest in gai choy? Because our youngest, daughter asked for it on her last visit during CNY. Too bad she and brother and sister-in-law left for PJ on second day of CNY when her mother prepared the dish for her relatives. It was amazing how those who could normally afford and eat expensive dishes went for it as if it was a delicacy!
Another of her favourite is pak charm kai (steamed chicken similar to that of Hainanese chicken rice). This was the first dish she craved for when she recovered from dengue a few years ago, after a 10-stay in a private hospital. I mentioned private for a reason, not out of choice and definitely not to show off. During a dengue outbreak in BG a few years ago, residents were advised to seek medical attention when having prolonged fever. But I can still remember at the time, it was closed during weekends and so on for such outpatient treatment and it takes at least a few days before it can be confirmed if it was dengue.
Anyway, she is getting steamed home-bred yim kai to go with sheen lart choy! Some relatives who we know would enjoy sheen lart choy will be invited.