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Monday, February 6, 2012

Pearl White Peony 珍珠白牡丹 - Vege Blooms # 1

Actually.. this is just a fancy name for Yuan Xiao Cabbage with Pacific Clams, LOL. It's Chinese New Year, fancy auspicious names jacks up the "feel". Gosh, today's the last day? Happy Chap Goh Mei to all, time flies and the new year is over by midnight.

Pacific clams are nicknamed  "Pearl abalone" and the arrangement seems to resemble the peony, 牡丹花(mao tan far), a beautiful flower that is the unofficial national flower of China. It's a flower that is always seen in Chinese paintings and ancient pretty women are usually related to this flower.

Actually I didn't intend it to be a peony... I only wanted to arrange it like a flower, but after looking at it a few times, eh... I think it looks like a peony. So so "Chinesey". LOL. Is there such an adjective? English teachers out there, shoot me. But one mistake, I should make a cavity in the middle and fill it with the clams, then it will really resemble a peony. Now it's a "cacat" one. LOL.

I made this for this year's reunion dinner. And this time it was very well recieved. Actually it's not the first time I cooked this for reunion dinner. I made this last year too, but it was only pinched on, wondered why? It was delicious too. This year, people who normally don't touch vege took seconds and thirds. Is it because it looked prettier this year? Or what? Actually I heard him say, it's delicious to his mom.

Actually I changed a little bit of the old recipe. The more we cook, the more we learn how to twist our dishes to make them nicer, right? That's how we learn and improve ourselves. Cook more, eat more, change more until it is perfect. Get constructive criticism and my hubby has learnt how to criticise my dishes, constructively.

Do not be confused with this type of cabbage. It's not Napa Cabbage (Wong Nga Bak 黄芽白). This YX cabbage has a smaller butt than head and it's foliage is smoother compared to Napa. Tastewise, more tender and sweeter. But if you cannot get this type.. just use Napa. I won't shoot your head. Don't worry.

Pearl White Peony (Yuan Xiao Cabbage with Pacific Clams)
Recipe source: Wendyywy

1 large Yuan Xiao Cabbage 元宵白(keep this whole, do not cut)
1 can Pacific Clams, clams and broth separated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 heaped tsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 Tbsp water.
1/2 tsp sesame oil
dash of pepper
salt, if needed

1. Bring a pot of water to boil (lots of water). Put 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar into the water and put the whole cabbage in and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover with lid. Cook for 10-15 minutes until cabbage is tender, but not mushy. Fish out and let it cool down.
2. Cut cabbage into 4 quarters vertically. Then divide each quarter into 4, horizontally. Keep the leaves  in stacks, do not loosen them. Arrange the stacks of cabbage vertically in a deep serving dish, like a peony.
3. Heat wok on medium heat. Put in oil and saute garlic until fragrant (not golden) and put in the pacific clams. Toss for about 10 seconds to warm it up and pour in the broth. Put in some pepper. Bring to a boil.
4.Thicken to preferred consistency with the cornstarch mixture, You may need more of it. Taste the gravy. If not salty enough, add salt. Put in sesame oil and turn off the heat.
5. Remove pacific clams and put them into the center of the "peony" and drizzle the gravy over the whole "peony".

*Take note that if not served immediately, the gravy will thin down due to moisture released from the cabbage.

I am submitting this  post to
Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY (January 2012)
hosted by Wen of Wen's Delight


  1. Nice name for a simple dish. Since the leaves are still intact, it forms a pretty "white flower" :)

  2. Beautiful dish, simple but looks delicious. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. The cabbage must so sweet and flavorful after soaking up the juices from the clams! Yummy!

  4. I am sure it's great: anything with cabbage is happy meal for me!

  5. Mmmm...i can imagine the sweetness of the soup

  6. such pretty arrangement u've done for a simple dish! happy chap goh mei wendy!!


  7. Was thrilled to see this post.. cos I was thinking how to use up the cabbage in the fridge and a can of clams.. gonna give this a try!

  8. i looked at your old photos for this dish..this definately looks attractive, people will admire the presentation before too.

  9. yvonne,
    err.. a peony is a flower :)

    Yeah, not all dishes for CNY needs to be too extravagant

    Oh yes, very sweet.

    haha.. But I think you'd skip the clams, right?

    Small Kucing,
    I think they put in MSG into the canned broth too ler, if not where got so nice, hahaha!

    Actually it's very easy to do.. try it and you'll know

    I hope you like this light and simple dish.

    Yeah, humans are sucker for visual enjoyment. Haiya, men also prefer to look at pretty girls before getting to know them, hahahaha!

  10. Hi There,

    I heard some cooks recommend using potato starch as it won't turn watery easily. Give it a try?


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  12. Sabby,
    thanks for the tip.
    Actually that will work if it involved dishes that will be stirred often or disturbed, like soup or noodles. Potato starch is more stable than gravies thickened with cornstarch. In this case, it turns watery due to breaking down of starch with excessive stirring.
    If the dish involves vegetables and the gravy is salted, no matter what starch you use, moisture will be released from the veggie due to osmosis. It will still thin down no matter what due to release of moisture, not breaking of any bonds formed between the starch and liquid.

  13. Love the way you present this dish. It looks very elegant with a little "Shanghai Tan" touch :D

  14. Pacific clam is one of my many favorite things. Next time I serve them my Quay Lo's Quay Lo friends, I will copy your presentation! I am sure they will all will open their mouth wide, WIDE!! hehe

  15. I don't care what you call it. I just want to taste it!


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