October 12, 2015

#1803: MAMA Vegetarian Instant Noodles Tom Yum Flavour

This is a special one sent to me by the kind folks at Thai President Foods – thanks again! So this month (October) there is a special festival that takes place in Thailand and other places in Asia involving vegetarianism. Here’s a little info on it from wikipedia:

The Nine Emperor Gods Jiǔ Huáng Xīng Jūn / Jiǔ Huáng Da Di (九皇星君/九皇大帝) are the nine sons manifested by Father Emperor Zhou Yu Dou Fu Yuan Jun (斗父周御國王天尊) and Mother of the Big Dipper Dou Mu Yuan Jun (斗母元君) who holds the Registrar of Life and Death. The worship of Dou Fu Yuan Jun has declined strongly as proper teachings of Taoism degenerate since being exported out of China. Today, most Nine Emperor God temples do not acknowledge the existence of Dou Fu Yuan Jun. However, Dou Fu Yuan Jun is invoked alongside Dou Mu Yuan Jun in Great Dipper Honouring known as Li Dou (禮斗) ceremonies. According To Priest Long Hua, the 35th Generation Leader of Long Shan Men Taoist Sect (Singapore), honouring the Northern Dipper stars prolongs one’s life, eliminate calamities, and absolves sins and past debts of oneself and his family.[1]

The term Ye (爺) as in Jiu Huang Ye (九皇爺) loosely translates as “Grandfather”, a title worshipers commonly use to bring a more intimate relationship between themselves and the Nine Emperors. The Nine Emperor Gods should not be mixed up with the Wang Yeor Princes of the Ming rebels. Popular folk culture has it that the Nine Emperor Gods are actually sea pirates of the Ming dynasty that plotted to overthrow the Qing dynasty. According to Priest Long Hua, this information is inaccurate and considered derogatory to the actual teachings of Taoism as the Nine Emperor Gods are actually high-ranking Star Lords who preside over the movement of planets and coordinate mortal Life and Death issues.[2]

The Nine Emperors is formed by the seven stars of the Big Dipper of the North Ursa Major (visible) and two assistant stars (invisible to most people). The Nine Emperor Stars are:

  1. Tan Lang Tai Xing Jun (貪狼太星君)1st Star (Visible) Bayer: α UMa
  2. Ju Men Yuan Xing Jun (巨門元星君) 2nd Star (Visible) Bayer: β UMa
  3. Lu Cun Zhen Xing Jun (祿存貞星君) 3rd Star (Visible) Bayer: γ UMa
  4. Wen Qu Niu Xing Jun (文曲紐星君) 4th Star (Visible) Bayer: δ UMa
  5. Lian Zhen Gang Xing Jun (玉廉貞綱星君) 5th Star(Visible) Bayer: ε UMa
  6. Wu Qu Ji Xing Jun (武曲紀星君) 6th Star(Visible) Bayer: ζ UMa
  7. Po Jun Guan Xing Jun (破軍關星君) 7th Star (Visible) Bayer: η UMa
  8. Zuo Fu Da Dao Xing Jun (左輔大道星君) 8th Star (Invisible)
  9. You Bi Da Dao Xing Jun (右弼大道星君) 9th Star (Invisible)

In Thailand, this festival is called Tesagan Gin Je เทศกาลกินเจ, the Vegetarian Festival. It is celebrated throughout the entire country, but the festivities are at their height in Phuket, where about 35% of the population is Thai Chinese. It attracts crowds of spectators because of many of the unusual religious rituals that are performed.

In accordance with the traditions, many religious devotees will perform ritualized mutilation upon themselves and one another (with the consent of, context and understanding of all involved and the practice itself) while under a trance-like state, including but not limited to: impaling through cheeks, arms, face, legs, back etc., with everything from as small as syringes to as large as is agreed upon between all members; partial skinning (the skin is not removed, just cut and flipped over); slashing of limbs, chest, stomach and especially tongue with swords, axes and knives; bloodletting; removal of tissue (normally limited to cysts) and intentionally wrapping or standing near fire crackers as they are lit.

These vegetarian tom yum noodles are made specifically for the festival and today I’ll be giving them a try! I’ve heard of vegetarianism in Chinese and other cultures before, but I wasn’t sure about ‘fetid’ vegetables during this event. Here’s a little about that from wikipedia:

In China, Korea and Vietnam, monks are expected to abstain from meat. In Taiwan, Buddhist monks, nuns, and most lay followers eat no animal products or the fetid vegetables – traditionally garlic, Allium chinense, asafoetida, shallot, and Allium victorialis (victory onion or mountain leek), although in modern times this rule is often interpreted to include other vegetables of the onion genus, as well as coriander – this is called Su vegetarianism. Some Zhaijiao lay adherents do not eat any meat.

I was looking at a post on the facebook group called PG Food Hunter A Team and saw a restoran mentioning the 9 Emperors events, and some items special for the occasion. That’s where I noticed mention of no onion, and then looked at wikipedia bout the fetid vegetables. I did so after plating and so decided to redo this one to keep things correct as possible – I had added white onion, coriander and spring onion the first time. Let’s have a look!

The back of the package (click image to enlarge). Suitable for vegetarians. To prepare, add contents to a bowl. Add 300ml boiling water and cover for 3 minutes. Stir and enjoy!

The noodle block.

The powder soup base.

A granular mixture.

A paste sachet.

Has a spicy scent.

Finished. Added Salad Cosmo mung bean sprouts, mushroom, grape tomatoes and tofu puff. The noodles had a good chew and texture to them as MAMA noodles usually do. The broth had a nice tom yum flavor with a sweetness that came and left during the taste – very interesting and very good. 4.0 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 8850987101892.

Lonely Planet Pocket Phuket (Travel Guide)

A recipe for making vegetarian tom yum soup at home.

Products cooked according to package instructions. Product reviews done prior to adding any additional ingredients.

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