One of the advantages of marrying someone of a different religion is that there’s no need to juggle families at the major holidays. We have Passover (for both families) at our house. Tom’s mother has Christmas at hers.
But before I married my lapsed Catholic husband, I sometimes partook in the popular tradition of Jews in America: eating Chinese food on Christmas (which includes Christmas Eve). So yesterday while Tom slaved away at the hospital, I made this Chinese chicken soup, something I learned when I was part of a Chinese family.
It’s simple: chicken broth, extra firm tofu cubes, vermicelli, diced tomatoes, sliced green onions (the light green and white part only), and chopped cilantro. It’s even better if you start by frying up some chopped garlic and ginger before adding the broth. Back when I ate this soup on an almost daily basis, it was served at the end of the meal. I’d usually add some white rice to thicken my soup.
When Tom came home from the hospital famished, he finished the rest of the soup. Hours later the little kids were sound asleep (Jake is in Arizona visiting my mother) and we still needed something for dinner. Ordering in Chinese food was one possibility, but when I thought more about Jews in Asia and what they would eat, something clicked.
I turned to Vikram Vij’s fabulous cookbook, a treasure Tom and I picked up in Vancouver last year.
Most observant Jews who live in Asia become vegetarian because pork and shellfish are so prevalent in those cuisines. Indian food is popular (especially in Hong Kong, where Indian restaurants are prevalent) because it features a slew of vegetarian dishes. In this and many ways, Vij doesn’t disappoint. For our dinner, I chose an eggplant dish that’s actually vegan.
And a brussels sprouts dish that uses sour cream. But if you’re vegan, just leave that out.
Together with white rice, we enjoyed a flavorful and healthy meal. Even my meat-loving cardiologist husband liked it.
Now that it’s Christmas Day, Tom is back at the hospital. Soon I’ll pack the kids into the car and drive to his mother’s for an early Christmas dinner.
To all who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas!