Monday, February 10, 2014

Chinese New Year Special: Poon Choi (盆菜)




Poon Choi


盆菜, or poon choi in Cantonese, has been gaining popularity in Singapore as the Chinese New Year dish.  Originally from Hong Kong, poon choi is an indulgent dish consisting layers of ingredients, separately prepared and cooked, before combining in a casserole or metal basin.  

While restaurants in Singapore have been quick to roll out their colourful festive poon choi for dining in or take-away, I have not tasted poon choi before.  My family traditional CNY feast is either a spread of Cantonese delicacies or steamboat. The thought of spending a few hundred bucks for food stacked together in a pot does not seem money-worth to me.  After all, why eat them stacked together when you can actually savour the separate dishes on their own? And if you were to buy them as a take-away dish from a restaurant/eatery,  I wondered just how long have the food been prepared, frozen, before we reheat them at home???  But, as eating poon choi is slowly becoming a trend here, my mum is eager to try it too.  And so, I started to google for beautiful bowls of poon choi and reading up the preparation process.  

Preparation of the various dishes within the poon choi stretched over two days.  This excludes time taken to purchase the various ingredients.  While it is possible to prepare poon choi within a day, I find that the flavours of each prepared dishes, especially the braised dishes, needed longer rest time for the flavours to develop.    




I will not be elaborating on the detailed recipe for the poon choi.  Instead, you can refer to here for the preparation process and recipe, which I have used as a reference to prepare this dish.

For me, I do not start with preparing the superior stock.  Instead, I braised the Chinese dried mushrooms with: chicken breast meat and bones, extra chicken feet and fatty pork for the rich collagen, dried oysters (added in at the last hour of braising) and smoked ham for extra flavours. Simmer the dish for a few hours over low heat, cool completely and let the dish rest overnight in the fridge.  The next day, the mushrooms have fully absorbed the essence of the various braising ingredients and taste simply heavenly.  Carefully remove the braised mushrooms and oysters from the pot.  Sieve the gravy and pour the remaining meat/bones back into the pot.  Add some more water, bring it to boil and simmer for another 20 minutes.  This will give you extra stock to impart wonderful flavour to the other ingredients, such as the pork skin, fried bean curd and radish.  With the reserved braised gravy, I used it to cook the sea cucumber.  Other prepared dishes for the poon choi include:  braised yam with pork in fermented red bean curd sauce, braised pork with lotus roots, homemade meatballs, steamed chicken drumstick with ginger and wine, abalone, pan-fried prawns, cooked pork skin, radish and fried bean curd skin.





If you plan and prepare the various dishes ahead, you find that making poon choi at home is not mission impossible.  The final step is gathering all dishes together and stacking them up beautifully.






Wishing all a prosperous Lunar New Year.  May the Year of Horse brings good health, fortune and happiness to everyone.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Hong Kong + Macau, hosted by Annie from Annielicious Food.  





3 comments:

  1. 今年我也是吃盆菜,满足得不得了:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. i always want to try this...really abundant on a bowl...with everything....looks so good

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jong. Lots of prep work, not sure I will do it again . Honestly, I'm still more inclined to having the dishes served separately than all in one bowl.

      Delete

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