Every 7th day of Chinese New Year (also called ‘Ren Ri’ ; 人日), Ah-mm will tell me to go and buy 7 types of vegetables for her to cook 七样菜. 人日 is literally ‘human day’. According to Chinese legend, 女媧 created different animals on different days. Humans were created on the 7th day after she created the world, so Ren Ri is also known as everyone’s birthday. Don’t be surprised if a Chinese wishes you ‘Happy Birthday’ on this day!
Some markets will pre-pack the 7 assorted vegetables for you so you don’t end up with big bunches of everything. Ah-mm says there’s no hard and fast rule as to which vegetables go into the dish, but she insists on having Chinese leeks (大蒜), pronounced ‘da suan’, which sounds like calculating (money).She also always got some 春菜 (mustard greens) but it’s kinda hard to find. My 7 types of vegetables this year:
1. Chinese leeks (red leeks)
2. Spring onions
6. Puay Leng (Chinese spinach)
7. Xiao Bai Cai
You can add in some meat slices like lean pork, but I added bak gwa this year hehe. Slice the bak gwa into strips and fry them together with the leeks, chives and celery in the beginning, so that the entire wok has the smokey fragrance of bak gwa. But watch the fire to prevent burning. I like them a bit charred though!
For seasonings, I simply added a bit of mushroom powder. You can add some chicken seasoning powder or light soy sauce if you don’t have mushroom seasoning. Enjoy your birthday today and I wish health and happiness for everyone!