Cooking Mama | Food, Filipino-Chinese

Cooking Tips for the Traditional Chinese Birthday Misua Recipe

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The cha misua is part of every traditional Chinese birthday celebration. For my father-in-law’s 80th birthday, Mama requested me to cook the birthday misua for Papa. It is actually my first time to do it and I worked in tandem with our eldest daughter Shawna. So now, I am sharing with you our cooking tips for Mama’s Chinese birthday misua recipe.

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~ Our platter of misua for the family lunch. ~

The Cha Misua for Every Elder’s Birthday

If we Filipinos prepare the red birthday spaghetti with hotdogs or pancit guisado for long life, the Chinese have their Cha Misua. Also known as the Chinese birthday misua, this dish is usually prepared for the birthday celebrator. There are certain ingredients that are actually symbolic, like good health and long life. And of course, prosperity.

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~ The birthday misua we ordered from our favorite Chinese restaurant. ~

Mama related to me that in a family of brothers, the “A-so” or the wife of the first-born son usually cooks the cha misua for the patriarch.

In the Chinese household, there is such a reverence for the father — the man of the house.

In their generation, the A-so cooked birthday misua for the birthday boy and for the immediate families. However, that aunt decided that all the wives should take turns cooking it every year. It can also get pretty tedious, especially if you are making several batches so it was getting too tiring for her through the years.

~ Traditionally, all the adults in the family are given one boiled egg while the children are not included in the count. The birthday celebrator gets two. ~

When I married my husband, Mama-in-law did not really oblige me to cook because she knows that I am also working. So every year during Papa’s birthday, they start preparing the cha misua ingredients the day before. And she gets busy on Papa’s actual birthday.

My Turn to Handle the Chinese Birthday Misua Recipe

But this year is different. It’s still a pandemic year and yet it’s also Papa’s 80th birthday. The family decided to hold a zoom birthday party and to send food to our relatives and some close friends.

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~ Achi Dindin presents her Ang Kong (grandfather) with a bowl of birthday misua and cansi steak. She decided that the cansi steak would be her gift for his 80th birthday. ~

So Mama requested me to cook at least 1 bowl that will be given to Papa for his lunch. I was in charge of our lunch while they took care of the food deliveries. Traditionally, the cha misua is the first meal of the birthday celebrator, but … it’s no longer practical in our modern time.

Instead, we prepared a bowl for Papa’s lunch (and ours) along with cansi steak. If you want to read about the symbols in the cha misua, read this: Cha Misua | Chinese Birthday Misua Recipe

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~ Ang Kong (grandfather) is very happy with his bowl of misua The tradition of preparing the Chinese birthday misua was passed on to two generations that day — mine and my daughter’s. ~

Chinese Birthday Misua Recipe

Logically, I know how to cook cha misua because the cooking part is actually easy. Plus, I have watched Mama do it a couple of times. It is the preparation part that is so tedious because of the many ingredients that you have to prepare beforehand.

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~ You have to prepare some of the ingredients the day before, like the shredded chicken and the peeled shrimps. ~

For this Chinese Birthday Misua Recipe, I had the same ingredients as Mama used. Find the recipe here. However, I did alter the flavorings because hubby and the kids want the cha misua to be more flavorful.

Here I am sharing my cooking notes:

  • Prepare the ingredients the day before. It takes a lot of time to shred and slice all the elements.
  • Pick the right kind of noodles for the birthday misua. It is colored brown. Another kind of noodles would not have the same effect.
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~ This is what we used. Love the texture. ~
  • Instead of just soy sauce, I added fish sauce as well as Knorr seasoning to enhance the flavor.
  • You will need to fry the Chinese chorizo, sliced onions, and scrambled eggs. Use the oil to saute the sauce of the misua. It is more aromatic plus you don’t waste oil.
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~ You will have to fry the Chinese chorizo, green onions, and scrambled eggs beforehand. Re-use the cooking oil for sauteeing the meats. ~
  • Toss the noodles into the meat mixture. Don’t mix. You don’t want the noodles to break into tiny pieces.
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~ The noodles should be tossed around over low heat so that the meat, veggies, and the flavors get mixed. ~
  • Never, cut the birthday misua intentionally. Ever. The noodles symbolize long life, so don’t cut them short. haha
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~ Do not cut the noodles! ~
  • Cook the misua in small batches in boiling water seasoned with salt. Add cooking oil to prevent the noodles from sticking. You have to bite into the misua to check if it’s almost cooked and then transfer them in tap water to cool completely. Do this for the rest of the noodles in order to make the noodles “al dente”, as the Italians would call it.
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~ The final step: adding the blanched misua into the meat mixture. Although they are pretty flexible if you cook them al dente, do not overstretch to avoid cutting the noodles. ~
  • Optional ingredients to make your cha misua more special would be small oysters and slices of squid or octopus.

A Successful of Rite of Passage

Achi Shawna helped me in the cooking because she had been learning how to cook under my tutelage. Hubby was the first one to try and he praised us because it tasted good.

When Mama and Papa tried it, Mama said that I can already handle the next batch of birthday misua already. It passed!

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~ Pin this: Cooking tips for the Chinese Birthday Misua Recipe. ~

I am just happy about this because it’s like a rite of passage in heritage cooking. The Chinese birthday misua is a big thing in Chinese families so I am just happy that I nailed it the first time.

This is a heritage dish that should be passed on to the next generation because, with the food delivery and instant noodles we have, the practice can get lost.

How to Make Chinese Birthday Misua on Video

Watch this short clip on how to cook the Chinese Birthday Misua on our YouTube channel.

Other Chinese Recipes

Meanwhile, here are other recipes for Chinese dishes in this blog.

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2 thoughts on “Cooking Tips for the Traditional Chinese Birthday Misua Recipe

  1. Napaka Special naman po nito Mommy.Made with Love amg pagkakaluto..Ang ganda din po talaga ng mga chinese tradition lalo na po sa culture nila at sa Pagkain

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