Five easy recipes to save you time!  
Nyonya Cooking
My Collections
Member Features
Poon Choi (Hakka)

Watch Now

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 219 ratings  Watch Now

Ingredients

A

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

B

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

C

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

D

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

E

100 g
fish fillet
0.25
salt
0.25
pepper
3 tbsp
corn flour

Background

When it comes to Chinese New Year, there is always a need to prepare a myriad of dishes. What started off as a tradition during the Song dynasty, “Poon Choi” remains a popular choice when celebrating the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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

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

null

Step 1/10

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'.

null

Step 2/10

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 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.

null

Step 3/10

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 into the pan. Increase heat to let it boil. Once it boils, let the dish simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

null

Step 4/10

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.

null

Step 5/10

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

null

Step 6/10

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 pieces in heated oil until golden brown. Set aside.

null

Step 7/10

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

null

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.

null

Step 9/10

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

null

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.

Food Snaps