Making Chinese Birthday Misua
My father-in-law recently celebrated his __th birthday and like an annual rite, Mama once again prepared cha misua or Chinese birthday misua for Papa, the family, and Papa’s siblings. And since Chinese New Year is also coming, I thought I would write about it and also include a recipe. It’s also high time that I immortalize this little family tradition that Mama does for Papa and the family.
- Related: Chinese New Year Activity for Kids
Cha Misua: A Chinese Birthday Tradition
“Do not dismiss the dish saying that it is just, simply food. The blessed thing is an entire civilization in itself.” ~Abdulhak Sinasi
The Chinese birthday misua originated from China. It is prepared early in the morning because traditionally, it’s supposed to be the first food of the one celebrating his birthday. The brown noodles, which are made of wheat flour, symbolize long life so intentionally cutting up the noodles to fit your pan is just unthinkable. The longer the noodles, the better.
Meanwhile, the eggs speak of fertility and a different preparation was done for couples or during childbirth. In our modern times, Mama would boil eggs based on the number of children and their spouses in the immediate family. We would each get a boiled egg along with our share of the misua.
Giving Chinese Birthday Misua to Family Members
The Chinese family is very filial and respectful. Children have ceremonies to respect elders as well as siblings. It kinda gets lost because of mixed marriages and the embracing of the modern culture, however, my husband and I try to at least keep some of them alive in our own little family.
I am a descendant of Chinese great grandparents, but with the assimilation into the Filipino culture, the language and practices got lost in my side of the family.
Going back, Mama would also prepare several containers of birthday misua that will be distributed to Papa’s siblings who are living here in Bacolod City. The containers vary in sizes, based on the number of people in that family.
Additionally, each container is topped with the number of eggs according to the members of the family. For example, an uncle who has two children gets a birthday misua that can be shared for four and topped with four boiled eggs. If the second generation already has children, the portion of the birthday msisua for that family becomes bigger, but usually the third generation doesn’t get whole eggs. Hihi
Remember, Chinese families are normally large, so if you have an egg for everyone, then you will have to boil trays of eggs! It’s homecooking at a grand scale!
The Misua Container
The empty container of birthday misua is sent back along with some raw eggs lined with a red marker. Or you will find a red ribbon under the raw eggs. The number of raw eggs returned correspond to the number of boiled eggs you gave.
The Birthday Eve
Since the Chinese birthday misua is cooked early in the morning, most of the preparations happen the day before. This is when you boil eggs, slice, blanch, shred, and peel whatever you need to do.
Refrigerate what you have prepared in covered containers and take them out early the next day.
In logic, I know how to prepare the birthday misua and since last year, I have been meaning to cook this for hubby’s birthday. But the thought of slicing and preparing all the ingredients beforehand turns me off. But hopefully, I will have more time to cook for his birthday this year and my work schedule will allow me to.
So for those who are interested and would like to cook this, here’s the recipe. I did not include measurements, the quantity can be up to you. In our family, Mama had to cook 1 ¼ kilos of misua.
Check out the video montage below.
Watch how Mama cooked the Chinese birthday misua for Papa. Watching it, the entire process doesn’t look so bad. haha
Chinese Birthday Misua Recipe
- Cooking oil
- Chopped garlic
- Chopped onions
- Pork slices (optional)
- Chicken breasts, blanched and shredded
- Carrots, julienned
- Chinese pechay, sliced thinly, stems separated
- Dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced
- Chorizo, sliced and fried
- Shrimps, cooked and peeled
- Little oysters, blanched (optional)
- Squid or fish balls (optional)
- Brown Chinese Misua
- Chicken stock
- Boiled eggs
- Spring onion leaves, sliced thinly
- Sliced garlic, fried and toasted
- Chinese chorizo, sliced and fried
- Shrimps, cooked and peeled
- Scrambled eggs, fried
- Salted peanuts
- Salt, pepper, and soy sauce (or pink Himalayan salt)
- Prepare all the ingredients and toppings.
- Prepare your strainer and boil water in a big shallow pan.
- In a wok, saute the garlic and onions in oil until onions are translucent. Add the pork slices and cook for about 5 chicken. Stir in the shredded chicken breasts and carrots. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix in the stems of the Chinese pechay and cook-stir for about 2 minutes. Then add the leaves, mix, and cook for another minute.
- Stir in the chorizo, mushrooms, shimps, and oysters. Mix well and remove from heat.
Here are the steps in photos.
The birthday celebrator usually gets a separate bowl with two whole hard-boiled eggs. He or she has to finish everything in that bowl, including the eggs. The eggs reportedly symbolize new life. These are eaten to signify another year passing and a new year that is to come.