Monday, November 29, 2010

Kai lan with stewed mushroom and mini abalone and a conversation with a lonely old lady - Featured in Group Recipes

My Mum and I go to the market together every morning and then after marketing, we will go have our breakfast. A few mornings ago, we went to buy Hong Kong kai lan and some other vegetables. After we finished marketing, we went to our usual hawker center in the market for curry noodles. There, we met this old lady, probably in her eighties, eating her breakfast alone, the fragrant bowl of curry noodles in front of her. I noticed that she was watching me and Mum chatting while we were waiting for our order. Looking at Mum she asked, “Is this your daughter?” My mum answered “Yes, she is my daughter”. The old lady continued to ask, “How many children have you?”. Mum said, “She is my only child and I have a step son.” The old lady, with tears welling up in her eyes, answered “How lucky you are. I have nine children and none of them is with me. I am living alone and they only send me money and come see me once a year.” I could not believe what I heard! This is so sad. It breaks my heart to hear that. This is what is happening to a lot of old folks nowadays. Their children are too busy with their lives and have no time for them. Money is not what our old folks want from us, all they ask is for us to spend a little time with them and let them know we are okay. I can hardly imagine not sharing a meal with my mother. She is the inspiration for this blog, and has been a "foodie" as long as I can remember. I can still recall how, at a very young age, I would accompany her to market and subsequently watch the transformation of fresh ingredients into something irresistable. I can not know all of this lady's, or her chidren's circumstances. However, if what she told us was true, then I know that there are several people who are cheating themselves out of some of the fondest memories a person can have.

Perhaps you might want to try this recipe and prepare a simple meal for your old folks today? I know this will bring them much joy!

250gm Hong Kong kai lan
1 can 140 gm canned mini abalone (optional)
6 big shitake mushroom
1 ½ tbsp vegetable oil
3 bibs garlic, sliced
2 tbsp oysters sauce
1 tsp dark black sauce
1 tsp light soya sauce (optional)
½ tsp sugar
¾ tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp water
1 tsp salt
water to boil kai lan

Wash and soak mushroom in a bowl of warm water for 30 mins. Squeeze dry the mushroom and set aside. Retain the mushroom water. Add salt and ½ ts of vegetable oil in a pot of water and bring it to boil. Add kai lan and cook till the color is dark green. Remove from pot, drain and set aside. Heat 1 tb oil in the wok and sauté the garlic till fragrant. Add mushroom, abalone, oysters sauce, dark black sauce, light soya sauce and sugar and stir fry till mushroom and abalone are well mix with the sauce. Add the mushroom water and turn heat to low and it stew till both mushroom and abalone are soft. Mix in ground white pepper. Dissolve the corn starch in 1 ts water and add into the gravy to thicken it. Lay the kai lan on the serving plate and pour stew over the vegetable and serve.


  1. great work... bet it ll be tasty...

  2. The greates gift you can give anyone, is time.

  3. Hi Quay Po,

    Thank you for sharing that story with us. I feel so bad for that poor old lady. I really do agree that all parents really want is to spend time with their children. I've always been very attached to my parents. So attached that it's been such a tough decision for me to move away to another city because I don't want to leave them. Plus, they're getting old abd I know they will need my help soon. Money is nothing compared to true happiness.

    I really appreciate you posting this dish as I know what a delicacy abalone is. The textures and flavors from all these ingredients combine together beautifully. Love this dish!

  4. That is a sad story. That poor woman. I hope her children see this and recognize themselves in the description. Here's hoping that she is welcomed by by her children with open arms.

  5. Some children are sadly so thoughtless!!

    I have never seen tinned abalone, we bought some fresh last year in France but even cooking them exactly as reccommended they were pretty tough!! Diane

  6. Great eyes will swell with tears too if my Piggies were to come home to see once a year and I have to eat alone. I cannot imagine how those 9 kids of her can do that to her. Money is something but not all things. I am glad I spent quality time with my mom and now it becomes a fond memory even though she left me to be God a few years back.

    Thanks Quay Po for sharing this touching story :)

  7. What timely moment. I just bought some shiitake mushrooms last weekend. Next will search for some baby kailan and then will give a go at this recipe. I know it's delish, 'cos I grew up eating this, prepared by my mum :-)

  8. That's a sweet (and sad) story. You're lucky to have each other!

  9. I love all ingredients in this dish, yummy

  10. Aww you are such a sweet daughter. How awesome that you and your mom spend so much time together. And what a delicious dish!

  11. You are so blessed to still have your mum...mine passed three yrs ago, miss her daily.

    your recipe looks wonderful;)


  12. Your dish and the meeting you described are both nicely done. Thank you for the reminder. You have a lovely blog and I will visit often. I hope you and your Mother have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  13. Mouth watering dish, love the silky look on that mushrooms.

  14. Rhonda,
    Yes it is. I appreciate time with my love ones more and more as I grow older.

  15. lequan,
    Yes, me too. The reason why we did live in the states is because my Mum did not want to live there and I could not leave her alone here. Fortunately, my hubby is so kind to move here instead so that I will not be separated from her. I am always grateful to him for doing this.

  16. Carolyn,
    I hope not only the children of this old lady will receive a wake up call from reading this post, I wish all who still have their parents with them will. We may not be intentionally take our parents for granted but in this day and time and our busy life style we need a reminder now and then that our old folks are not immortal. When they are still here, let's spend as much time with them as possible so that when they are gone, we do not need to carry the baggage of regrets.

  17. Diane,
    I agree with you, freh abalone is tough and it takes a long time to stew them to get them to soften up. I always use canned ones because they are soft already. My hubby still wonders why I like abalone so much because he said it is like eating rubber.LOL!

  18. Elin,
    You are wise to have spend time with your Mum when she was alive and now that she has left, you only fond memories but not regrets:D I am sure you little Piggies will be like you, they will treasure you like how you have treasured you Mum.

  19. Nasifreit,
    I am happy this post is timely for you. Enjoy!

  20. Belinda,
    I always feel blessed that Mum stayed with me all my life since the day I was born. That is also because both my late hubby and my hubby did not mind my mum staying with us. In fact they both love her very much.

  21. Thanks Sonia,
    How are you? Busy preparing to cook up a storm on Christmas recipes to share with us?

  22. Thanks Joanne. I love your post on your Thanksgiving party with your family. It sounds like so much fun. I had a quiet Thanksgiving this year and I am now looking forward to a noisy, fun filled Christmas to come. LOL!

  23. Thanks David,
    I am sure you miss your mum daily. We never stop missing those we love. I never stop missing my late husband either but let's hold on to the beautiful memories we had with them.

  24. Thanks Mary,
    I am so happy to hear that you will visit often so that we can get to know each other better. I will visit you too. Till the next time we talk.. take care.

  25. This is so simple and yet so delicious! I hope I can find kai lan at a grocery near me (it is harder to find proper Asian produce sometimes). A wonderful thing to make for loved ones - I'd like to make this for my mum one day.

  26. Jude,
    If you can't find kai lan, you can use Romanian lettuce, it will taste as good. What you do is just arrange the lettuce on the bottom of the serving plate. Make sure the mushrooms, abalone and gravy is really hot and pour them on top of the greens. So nice of you to want to cook this for your mum. I am sure anything you cook for her will pleases her.

  27. Thanks for sharing the story. Love your Kai Lan dish too - simple Kai Lan but upped to professional level in your hands. Awesome!

  28. tigerfish,
    Wow, your compliment made my day! thanks my dear:D

  29. Thanks for the recipe!!! Love it. Fresh or frozen local abalone is cheaper but will never give the same taste, flavor and texture as canned abalone. I love the flavor and taste of canned abalone and one day I want to eat abalone like 'abalone kings' do: braised in sauce and served whole, like a steak, washed down with a good white wine. Cut with a knife and fork of course. Meantime, it's still cheaper to slice abalone thinly and share with the family. I love this dish. It's such a special treat.


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