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Poon Choi (Hakka)

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Poon Choi (Hakka)

Meat
Category
Meat

Normal
Difficulty
Normal

Total Time
Total Time
Prep 30 M / Cook 02 H 00 M

Servings
Yield
2 Servings

Grace Teo
Grace Teo   thegraceteo
Published on January 16, 2018

  Based on 229 ratings  Watch Now

Ingredients

30 g
pork rind
4
shiitake mushroom(s)
2600 ml
water
1.5 tbsp
oil
3
garlic clove(s)
2 cm
ginger
1
yellow onion(s)  
2
red tofu (fermented)  
1 tsp
fennel seeds
1
dried tangerine peel(s)  
1
star anise
1
shallot(s)  
3 tbsp
black vinegar  
0.5 tsp
salt
1 tsp
sugar
120 g
pork belly
1
squid (dried)
4
prawns
300 ml
oil
100 g
fish fillet
0.25
salt
0.25
pepper
3 tbsp
corn flour
90 g
white radish
1
dried bean curd stick(s)  
8
fish balls
60 g
broccoli
1
chicken drumstick(s)

Background

Poon choi is a dish made out of many ingredients such as meat, seafood and vegetables. Often served when celebrating Lunar New Year, poon choi remains a popular choice in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore during the festive season. While there are many variations to this special dish, I like to keep it traditional yet simple. The only dish which takes a longer time to prepare is the stew pork belly. The taste is extremely appetizing as it absorbs the flavours of the Chinese vinegar and all the spices. After simmering for an hour, you will be greeted with tender and succulent pork belly. The gravy tends to be slightly thicker after a while due to the fats from the pork belly. As it sits on the second layer, the gravy will be absorbed into the sponge-like ingredients such as radish and fried tofu sticks.

Poon choi history

Poon Choi, a dish with at least 9 main ingredients tells the history of an emperor who fled to a village where the villagers gathered all their prized ingredients to cook for him. As the emperor had his whole army with him, the villagers had to serve the food in wooden wash basins. Until today, there are villages still serving this dish using wooden wash basins which are soaked before using, to avoid spillage. These days, you would be able to find bucket dish in big metal bowls, porcelain bowls or even clay pots.

Concept of poon choi

The concept of making Poon Choi is simple as it consists of only three layers. It begins with the bottom layer where the ingredients would soak up all the flavours from the middle and top layers. The second layer consists of ingredients with lots of flavours and gravy. The last layer which is also the upper most layer consists of drier ingredients which are usually more expensive.

The rest of the dishes need to be either quickly stir-fried or fried. As for the top layer, feel free to buy dishes like roasted pork or grilled chicken.

Variation of poon choi layers

Below is the list of ingredients which you can choose to make your own Poon Choi. Pick a minimum of 3 ingredients for each layer.

Layer 1 (bottom): White radish, hydrated fried pig skin, napa cabbage, hydrated fried tofu skin sticks, lotus root

Layer 2 (middle): Hydrated dried squid, pork stewed in Chinese vinegar, taro, hydrated shiitake mushrooms or any other mushrooms

Layer 3 (top): Steamed/grilled chicken, roasted/grilled pork, fried/grilled fish, fish balls, fish cakes, abalone, broccoli, bok choi, mushrooms, black moss

How many should I serve?

This recipe serves 2 if eaten as it is but it is enough for 4 when served together with steamed white rice. It took a little effort to prepare but it was definitely worthwhile as it was amazingly delicious.

Poon Choi (Hakka) is also known as: Pen Cai盆菜

Steps

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Step 1/10

  • 30 g pork rind
  • 4 shiitake mushroom(s)
  • 1200 ml water
  • 1200 ml water

Soak dried fried pig skin (pork rind) and squid with water separately overnight. Also soak shiitake mushrooms in 200ml water overnight. Boil chicken drumstick to be placed on the top layer of the poon choi.

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Step 2/10

  • 0.5 tbsp oil
  • 1 garlic clove(s)
  • 2 cm ginger
  • 0.5 yellow onion(s)  
  • 1 red tofu (fermented)  
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 dried tangerine peel(s)  
  • 1 star anise
  • 50 ml water
  • 1 shallot(s)  
  • 50 ml water
  • 3 tbsp black vinegar  
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 120 g pork belly

In a pot, cook oil over low heat to sauté minced garlic, ginger slices and sliced shallots until fragrant. Add onion slices, fermented tofu and pork belly slices. Once fats from pork belly is rendered, add fennel seeds, tangerine peel, star anise and black vinegar to the pot. Stir well and add 50ml of water. Increase heat to let dish boil. Once it boils, allow it to simmer for 1 hour. Add salt and sugar to taste.

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Step 3/10

  • 1 garlic clove(s)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 100 ml water
  • 0.5 red tofu (fermented)  

In another pan, sauté minced garlic with oil over low heat until fragrant. Add fermented tofu and continue to saute over low heat. Add hydrated fried pork skin and water into the pan. Increase heat to let it boil. Once it boils, let the dish simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

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Step 4/10

  • 1 garlic clove(s)
  • 0.5 yellow onion(s)  
  • 1 squid (dried)
  • 0.5 red tofu (fermented)  

Using the same pan, saute minced garlic and onions over low heat until fragrant. Add fermented tofu and hydrated dried squid. Continue to saute for ca. 5 minutes. Set aside.

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Step 5/10

Use water from hydrated Shiitake mushrooms to deglaze the pan. Simmer gravy until it thickens slightly. Set aside.

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Step 6/10

  • 4 prawns
  • 300 ml oil
  • 100 g fish fillet
  • 0.25 salt
  • 0.25 pepper
  • 3 tbsp corn flour

Fry prawns and tofu skin in heated oil until it turns golden. Leave aside. Coat pieces of fish with a mixture of corn flour, salt and pepper. Deep fry fish pieces in heated oil until golden brown. Set aside.

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Step 7/10

  • 90 g white radish
  • 1 dried bean curd stick(s)  

Begin assembling poon choi by placing boiled radish, fried bean curd sticks and pork skin. Pour gravy obtained from deglazing pan onto ingredients.

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Step 8/10

As for the second layer, place squid, shiitake mushrooms and stewed pork belly. Do not add the gravy from stewed pork belly.

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Step 9/10

  • 8 fish balls
  • 60 g broccoli
  • 1 chicken drumstick(s)

Lastly, place fish balls, chicken, fried fish, fried prawns and broccoli on top. Pour stewed pork belly gravy on top of the ingredients.

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Step 10/10

Cover pot and let the dish simmer for 5-10 minutes before serving. Consider adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if the dish is too dry.

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