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Poon Choi (Hakka)

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Poon Choi (Hakka)

Meat

Category

Meat

Normal

Difficulty

Normal

Cook Time

Cook Time

02 H

Servings

Yield

2 Servings
Grace Teo
Grace Teo   nyonyacooking
Published on January 16, 2018

  Based on 205 YouTube ratings  Watch Now

Background

When it comes to Chinese New Year, there is a myriad of dishes to prepare for the family. What started off as a tradition during the Song dynasty, 'Poon Choi' remains a popular dish used to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong and countries like Malaysia and Singapore. 'Poon Choi' is 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 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 would need to be 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.

The concept of making 'Poon Choi' is simple as it consists only three layers. It begins with the bottom-most layer where the ingredients would soak 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.

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 soaks 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.

The rest of the dishes need to be either quickly stir-fried or fried. As for the top most layer, feel free to buy dishes like roasted pork or grilled chicken. 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-most): 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-most): Steamed/Grilled chicken, roasted/grilled pork, fried/grilled fish, fish balls, fish cakes, abalone, broccoli, bok choi, mushrooms, black moss

This recipe feeds 2 people but it can easily feed 4 in a family when served with steamed white rice. It took a little effort on our side to finish but it was wonderful!

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

Community Food Snaps

Ingredients

A

  • 90 grams white radish
  • 1 dried bean curd stick(s)  
  • 30 grams pork rind
  • 0.5 red tofu (fermented)  
  • 1 garlic clove(s)
  • 4 shiitake mushroom(s)
  • 200 millilitres water

B

  • 120 grams pork belly
  • 3 tablespoons black vinegar  
  • 1 garlic clove(s)
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 centimetres ginger
  • 1 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 dried tangerine peel(s)  
  • 0.5 yellow onions  
  • 1 shallots  
  • 0.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 red tofu (fermented)  

C

  • 1/2 red tofu (fermented)  
  • 0.5 yellow onions  
  • 1 squid (dried)

D

  • 1 chicken drumstick(s)
  • 8 fish balls
  • 4 prawns
  • 60 grams broccoli

E

  • 100 grams fish fillet
  • 0.25 salt
  • 0.25 pepper
  • 3 tablespoons corn flour

Steps to Prepare

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1.  

Soak dried fried pig skin, shiitake mushrooms with 200ml water (A) and dried squid overnight. Boil chicken drumstick to be placed on the top layer of the 'Poon Choi'.

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2.  

With ingredients in (B), sauté garlic, ginger and shallots with a tablespoon of oil at low heat until fragrant. Add onion slices, fermented tofu and pork belly. Once fat 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, let it simmer for 1 hour. Add salt and sugar to taste.

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3.  

In another pan, sauté minced garlic with 1 tablespoon of oil until fragrant. Add fermented tofu and continue to saute at low heat. Add hydrated fried pork skin and 100ml of water to the pan. Increase heat to let it boil. Once it boils, let the dish simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

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4.  

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

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5.  

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

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6.  

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

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7.  

Begin assembling 'Poon Choi' by placing boiled radish, hydrated tofu skin sticks and pork skin. Pour gravy obtained from deglazing pan onto ingredients.

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8.  

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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9.  

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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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.