A very popular Chinese dish, Happosai (八宝菜) is not modified very much from the original Chinese version and it is similar to combination stir fry. It is made with lots of vegetables, meat and seafood coated with a thick flavoursome sauce. You can use different vegetables if you like. Please see notes for alternative vegetable suggestions.
Squid: Using a sharp knife, cut the hood lengthwise to the tip and lay the opened squid flat on the cutting board. Score the squid diagonally (don’t cut all the way), then score again perpendicular to the first scoring to make diamond pattern. Cut into about 2.5cm (1”) x 4cm (1½”) rectangular pieces. Tentacles can be separated into 2-3 bunches if you have them.
Chinese cabbage: Cut each leaf in half lengthwise, then cut them crosswise into 4cm long pieces. Separate leaves from the stems (white hard parts).
Carrot: Cut into about 4cm (1½”) logs, halve the logs lengthwise, then slice into 3mm (⅛") thick rectangular pieces.
Bamboo shoots: If using a whole bamboo shoots, halve lengthwise and cut each piece into 4cm (1½”) long pieces perpendicular to the first cut. Place the cut side of the bamboo piece on the cutting board and slice into 3mm (⅛") thick.
Sauce: Mix all the Sauce ingredients, except cornflour, in water in a bowl.
Add pork slices. Cook for 30 – 60 seconds (note 7) until both side of the pork pieces are sealed.
Add prawns and squid to the wok/fry pan, add pinch of salt & pepper and stir for 30 seconds ensuring that both sides of the prawns and squid pieces are sealed.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok/fry pan, add ginger and mix, then add carrots and white stem part of Chinese cabbage. Stir for 1 minute.
Add bamboo shoots and stir for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the vegetables and stir further 1 minute.
Add the sauce mix and bring it to a boil. Pour the cornflour mixed in water over the sauce and mix quickly so that the cornflour mixes into the sauce evenly.
When the sauce becomes thick and bubbling, add sesame oil, mix and turn the heat off.
1. I bought calamari, which has thinner and tenderer meat than squid. Please see the step by step photos of squid preparation below my recipe, Squid with cucumber and Wakame Nuta.
2. I used pork belly which was already thinly sliced into strips. I just cut them into short pieces. If you have a pork chop or steak, simply slice them thinly.
3. You can buy a bag of boiled bamboo shoots at Japanese grocery stores. You can also buy boiled bamboo shoots in a can at Asian grocery stores. The Japanese bamboo shoots come as a whole, while canned bamboo shoots are often halved.
At Asian grocery stores, you may find a can of boiled bamboo shoots that are already cut into rectangular shapes. They are very handy to use.
4. It is also called wood ear fungus (or mushroom), cloud ear fungus (or mushroom), or tree ear fungus. It is sold dried in a packet at Asian grocery stores. You need to rehydrate it to use. It has a hard jelly like texture and crunchy. I only rehydrated 6 or 7 dried black fungus. It expands a lot.
5. I had soy sprouts (sprouts with soy beans attached at the end) so I used them. But normal bean sprouts are more commonly used in happosai.
6. You can buy a tin of Chinese style chicken stock powder at Asian grocery stores. Please see the photo on the blog.
As an alternative, you can use a chicken stock cube diluted in 200ml (6.8oz) hot water. Or, you can use 200ml (6.8 oz) of chicken stock instead of hot water + stock powder.
7. Cooking time depends on the thickness and the size of the pork pieces. My pork was very thin and it needed only 30 seconds.
8. Alternative meats and vegetables: scallops, crab meat, fried tofu, cabbage, shiitake or other mushrooms, beans, peas, choy sum, buck choy, baby corns, onion.
9. If you place happosai on top of hot rice in a bowl, it becomes chukka-don which is rally delicious and filling.