The holidays are not the time to scrimp and save, especially when it comes to eating. Christmas is a time to share and to let go off the purse strings no matter what. Putting plentiful food on the table mirrors our desire for prosperity in the New Year. Abundant food and drink chez nous is de rigueur as it is in many countries.
Back home, grapes were a luxury (we can’t grow them because of our tropical climate), and my parents would shell out more money without an ounce of hesitation to buy good quality imported grapes; to us they symbolize good fortune for the coming year. We’d also have lots of noodles as they symbolize long life. Grapes and noodles plus a dozen other gourmet treats laid out beautifully was our way of celebrating the birth of Christ and welcoming the New Year – not to mention the deafening fire crackers that go off at midnight on the 31st, making you feel like the country is under siege.
With all the good food eaten at midnight on the 24th and all day on Christmas Day, there’s that period after Christmas and before the New Year when we get that desire to give our digestive tract a break by eating more simple and less expensive meals. You know you’ve eaten too much rich food when you start yearning for a no-fuss, frugal meal.
My budget meal # 5 is so easy to make…it won’t chisel off your already dwindling budget. If you haven’t yet tried Chinese sausage, don’t wait until the Chinese New Year to do so. I combined the sausage with Quebec cabbage. You can use ordinary cabbage for this dish (and of course any kind of sausage). I don’t know if Quebec cabbage is available outside the province – I believe it’s home grown. The inner leaves are curly, have a dark green color and feel just a tad rubbery. I love it! They can be used to decorate salads too.
This meal is good for 2 people.
- take 6-7 leaves off the cabbage and cut into julienne strips, rinse in cold water and then set aside (one head of cabbage costs about $2.80)
- chop onions and garlic (about 2 tbsp each).
- cut up 3-4 Chinese sausages into thin slices using a diagonal stroke as in picture above (simple pack of 6 sausages about $3.50)
- oil, salt and pepper
Total cost: about $7.00.
Heat oil for 1-2 minutes. Sauté onions and garlic, and lower your heat to medium or low-medium (to avoid the garlic from getting too roasted).
Throw in your strips of cabbage and continue sautéing until they’re crisp (don’t overcook them; you’ll end up with wilted strips). Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Fry your sausage slices in a little oil – about 1-3 minutes (be careful not to burn them although they would still taste good)!
Arrange your cabbage strips on a serving platter and sprinkle your sausages on top. Serve!
Chinese sausage is available in most oriental stores and come in different varieties (some are made with duck liver). When you buy them, buy only the quantity you need because Chinese sausages have a distinct taste – I’ll go as far as saying they’re an acquired taste. Their taste ranges from very sweet to very spicy. Asian stores sell them in vacuum-packed plastic bags. The ones that are available in Canada are manufactured mostly in Vancouver and Toronto where there are large Chinese communities. Note, however, that Chinese sausages are not exclusively from China. The generic name is used to describe any one of the varieties from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan or Singapore.
To know what they look like, google “Chinese sausage” and you’ll see about four different images on the first page.
This meal goes great with rice, by the way…