Written by: Tong Jess Ning
Yearly Affair – memories and traditions behind my popo's Chap Chye recipe. My popo always cooks this dish alongside delicious home-cooked chicken rice during our annual Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner.
My popo, aged 80, is the Jack of all trades in the family — adept in plenty of traditional practices from tailoring and altering clothes to cooking scrumptious meals for the family. My mother always tells me that Chap Chye used to only be cooked on special occasions (such as Chinese New Year) when she was growing up; but now, I am fortunate to have my grandma whip up this dish whenever we want to eat it!
“I always look forward to a soul-warming Saturday night at my popo’s house as I get to spend quality time with my grandparents over a table of mouth-watering food cooked by my popo.”
She often worries that the food is not enough for us and tends to cook her dishes in abundance as if for a whole village. You will never need to worry about going hungry at my popo’s house! I simply find comfort and joy in my popo’s food as I know it is made with lots of love. I will readily go over and help my popo whenever I hear that she is cooking a big feast for the family! Over the years, I have always posted my popo’s delicious food on my IG; and over here, you’ll learn one of her specialties — Hainanese Chap Chye!
Heavenly roasts, hearty stews, and comforting noodle soups are all staples on my popo’s kitchen table, and this Chap Chye dish is no exception. Chap Chye is a mixed vegetable dish braised in a warm, soothing chicken broth. One of the key ingredients in my Popo’s Hainanese Chap Chye dish is the lily buds. Many believe that lily buds are a symbol of wealth. It is often tied in a knot and added to this braised vegetable dish – giving a chewy and slightly crunchy texture to her dish!