During Chinese New Year, the most popular dish in Cantonese’s cooking is braised dried oyster/ ho si (蚝豉) with black moss/ fat choy (发菜). Both of these ingredients sound auspicious in Cantonese’s pronunciation. Ho si means good business（好事）whereas fat choy means prosperous (发财). Besides braising, dried oysters can also be used in porridge and soup.
Today, I will share with you my mother-in-law’s signature dish – braised dried oysters with minced meat (蚝豉松). This is my hubby’s most favourite dish among my mother-in-law’s cooking. It goes well with both rice and noodles. You can even eat it wrapped in lettuce.
Like my mother, there is no specific measurement in my mother-in-law’s cooking. This recipe is compiled based on her verbal description, cooking demo and what I had tasted before. For my first attempt, my “invigilator” (hubby) only gave me 7 out 10 and made the following comments:
- Both dried oysters and water chestnuts were chopped a bit too fine and the amount was insufficient
- Meat was too lean, giving rise to a coarse texture
- Not enough oyster sauce
- The dish was a bit watery (it was because I used steamer to re-heat the dish before serving it for dinner).
One week later, I cooked this dish again, giving attention to those mistakes. This time I scored a perfect 10! U Lala! Too good to be true! I was so thrilled with his generous review. Honestly speaking, I don’t think I can achieve my mother-in-law’s standard in just two attempts. But at least I learnt the right way to cook this dish and can reduce his nostalgia for his mother’s cooking. Hope this dish will bring bountiful of good luck, good business and good news to your doorsteps in the year of Ox.
170g minced meat (with lean fat)
6 large dried oysters* (soaked in hot water, coarsely chopped as you want to be able to chew and taste the juiciness of its body)
6 water chestnuts – 马蹄 (again coarsely chopped to give the dish a bit of crunchiness)
4 shallots (chopped finely)
*Use Japanese dried oysters instead of Korean dried oysters. They are bigger, chunkier and tastier.
1½ - 2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
7-8 tbsp water
Dash of light soy sauce & corn flour (for marinating)
2 tsp corn flour (mixed with 2 tbsp water) for thickening
Dash of white pepper
Spring onions and coriander leaves for garnishing
1) Marinate minced meat with light soy sauce and corn flour for 15 mins.
2) Heat up wok with 1 tbsp oil. Sauté onions until fragrant.
3) Add in dried oysters and sauté until fragrant.
4) Add in minced meat. Spread it out. Do not stir fry immediately. Let it cook for a while until it is slightly caramelized. Flip it over and let it cook for a while until caramelized. This will increase the aroma of the minced meat. Reduce the heat to low and start breaking up the meat. (tip from here)
5) Add in water and chopped chestnuts. Stir-fry for 1 minute until it mixes well with the rest of the ingredients.
6) Add in oyster sauce, dark soy sauce & water. Stir well. Cover with lid and simmer for about 5 mins (make sure it is not too dry, add water if necessary).
7) Add in pepper and corn flour solution to thicken. Mix well.
8) Turn off the heat and add in spring onions and coriander leaves. Dish up and serve.
Other recommended dishes by my mother-in-law:
- how to make "smooth & springy" fish paste
- fen ge herbal soup