My (Accidentally) Chinese Fusion Thanksgiving Dinner

The veggies draining.
I have such a small kitchen now they had to be
relegated to the sink area for awhile.
Earlier this week, I didn't remember Thanksgiving was approaching until I talked to my parents and they reminded me.  It's such a stark contrast from my first year in Taiwan.  Last year, I felt down because I wasn't able t return home for the holidays.  But now, I've acclimated to life here, and I'm busy.  Holiday season has arrived and I didn't even notice!

After speaking to my parents, I thought to myself, "What should I do for Thanksgiving?"  Last year, I had dinner with a friend at a popular restaurant close to where I live.  This year, I thought of doing nothing, but then I decided to try to cook myself Thanksgiving dinner.

I buy a rotisserie chicken to eat over the course of 7-10 days every time I go to the grocery store, so I decided to save some of it for Thanksgiving in place of turkey.  I bought instant pumpkin soup as clam chowder imported from America costs more than I wanted to pay.  I decided I needed some veggies, so I bought a can of beets and a can of mixed veggies, rinsed the can water out, mixed the two, boiled them for a little while, then voila! - a vegetable side-dish.

However, there was one major component I wasn't sure I could pull off.  One thing I missed a lot last year and started to miss again this year when I realized Thanksgiving was around the corner was my mom's amazing stuffing!

I'm a good cook, but I'm not on my mom's level.  Still, I wanted to eat that stuffing!  I had to find someway to make it...or something close to it.

The solution?

Well, it all started with a conversation with my mom on how to make it.  "Buy some bread, leave it out for at least a day...stir fry some mushrooms, but make sure they're not too wet...you need some eggs...no, you don't have to use chicken stock..."

It's difficult to understand a set of directions given by my mother who seems to speak in riddles!  But I got the gist of her recipe and I have seen her make that amazing stuffing year after year.  So, I thought I'd give it a go, but I would add some of my own twists.
On the left, the mushrooms, onions, garlic, and celery are cooking down.
On the right, the bread is crisping in the oven and that bowl
has the vegetable stock I made myself (spiced with chili powder).

I decided to make a ciabatta bread based stuffing.  I left the bread out for four days so it could acquire a good level of firmness.  I used oyster mushrooms instead of portobello since they're expensive here.  I added celery, an ingredient found in my mom's version and one of the most important components as it gives the stuffing a subtile crunch.  Since I love garlic, I added triple the amount Mom would, and instead of getting raisons for the slight sweetness...I got passion fruit.

Yes, passion fruit.  So sweet, but so good, and it went beautifully with the stuffing.

The celery here comes with all the leaves, which is great. 
Assembling the stuffing.
There's the passion fruit in the back!
Ready to go into the oven!
All done!
The stuffing, veggies, and chicken.

Instant pumpkin soup with salad.
You know, I think I realized how much of a Chinese twists my Thanksgiving dinner was taking when I bought the passion fruit.  With my soup, I had a salad made from Chinese A菜 (A cai, Chinese lettuce, basically), 芝麻牛蒡絲 (zhimai niubangsi, sesame burdock), and a salad dressing of 臭豆腐 (choudoufu, stinky tofu) soup from earlier in the week.

I didn't feel like making sweet potato pie for dessert, so I bought a large egg tart.

Green tea (no sugar) and an egg tart with raisins inside for dessert!
A wonderful combo!
Dinner was great and a lot of fun to make, but naturally, Thanksgiving isn't only about stuffing your face.  It's a day to give thanks as well. I can say I'm thankful for:

-my health
-my family and friends
-having food and shelter
-being able to create things
-having the opportunity to see the world
-all the new things I've learned
-so many other things I'm probably forgetting...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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