By | January 16, 2017

~ Hakka Poon Choi ~

Poon Choi is a special dish served in a big basin or pot, originated from the Hakka people of Chinese Hans ethnic. As the dish is commonly prepared and publicised by the Cantonese people, it has been mistakenly known as a Cantonese cuisine. Being a Hakka myself, I understand that Poon Choi contains a wide variety of dishes all served in one big pot prepared typically to be served on banquet tables for celebrations or community gatherings at villages. It is a conveniently prepared dish of dishes by a group of ladies, hired or fellow relatives of the host. Guests who come at around the same time will be gathered at the same banquet table. When the table is filled with 8 or 10 persons, the piping hot dish will be served and everyone will dig into the big pot with a pair of chopsticks to get their favourite piece. The idea is for all food to be served hot to all the guests who come at different time of the day. It can be quite a challenge to ensure big crowd who arrives at different timing is served in minutes with hot or warm food on the table. So, Poon Choi is the way to go.

Poon Choi can be served on all occasions. I personally like to make this dish for the Chinese New Year reunion dinner. Although I only have a small family of 3, I could imagine how busy one can be, trying to cook the best dinner to usher the beginning of the Lunar New Year with the close ones. It is such a happy occasion when all family members gather together to enjoy a great meal that mama or/and papa cooks at home sweet home. To be reunited again after a long busy year cherishing dreams on separate ways in different states or countries, makes it precious time when family members to catch up again during the Spring holiday without having to endure the queue at busy restaurants. Poon Choi makes a great option to begin with, as most of the ingredients can be prepared a day or two before the reunion dinner takes place on the eve of Chinese New Year. This makes it flexible for all, the “chef of the day” and the family members who arrive home at different timing. The big pot of Poon Choi prepared can then be cooked within minutes and be served when everyone shows up.

Last year, we hosted my brother who travelled into Singapore to join us for reunion dinner for the first time. As it was the peak season, there was an unexpected flight delay for 2 hours. Our original plan was disrupted. We expected him to arrive home at 6pm and dinner to be served at 7pm but he only arrived at 8pm. I met him at the nearest MRT station as he barely knows our place. I was only waiting for my brother and I felt anxious with the delay. I could only imagine if you have a big family and everyone is coming home from far abroad. With just a slight unexpected delay due to unforeseen circumstances, all plans changed. I was so glad that I prepared Poon Choi for our reunion dinner. Else, dinner will be delayed further or served cold when my time was stolen from the kitchen to meet him at the crucial hour. When we arrived home, I cooked up the big pot of Poon Choi for 5 minutes after bringing to boil fully automatically. While all tummies are growling, we enjoyed chatting up while waiting for the piping hot pot of Hakka Poon Choi to be served on a cosy evening at home.

The more I prepare, the more I like the idea of Hakka Poon Choi. As it is a dish of dishes, most of the ingredients can be prepared a day or two earlier. Just to name a few, the fish maw, mushrooms & sea cucumber stew, the roasted chicken, duck and/or pork, Hakka yam & pork stew and trotter. These few dishes can be prepared in bigger portions too. They can simply be reheated on any day during the holiday season to minimise cooking time. In case you have a big family and you have lost count of their family members and when some of them bring home an unexpected guest or two, you can have some back up too. All you need to do is to arrange a piece or two extra of each into that big pot that you use for the final cook. It is so conveniently flexible.

While this dish of dishes is usually filled with lavish ingredients, I balance it with more vegetables and less meat. I have also simplified the processes for practical reasons. Although mini and simplified, the thick gravy in this pot of Hakka Poon Choi I prepared is so delicious as no additional liquid was added with the AMC cooking method used. Goodness from the naturally rich liquid of the pre-cooked dishes simply contributes to the gravy and accumulated at the bottom of the big pot, making it a rich and thick broth. Every scope is nourishing, every bite is scrumptious. No stress over additional members. No stress over serving cold food due to the waiting time. The idea of having Hakka Poon Choi on big occasions can truly be a smart choice. Happy trying!

Hakka Poon Choi Recipe (Serves 3) :

A. Sea Cucumber, Dried Oyster & Mushroom Stew

  1. 200 grams Chicken Breast (chopped into 1 inch horizontally)
  2. 6 large Dried Oysters (cleaned)
  3. 12 large Chinese Mushrooms (soaked & cleaned)
  4. 200 grams Sea Cucumber (soaked & cooking time may vary depending on the type and texture)
  5. 5 cloves Garlic (mashed)
  6. 1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
  7. 1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce
  8. 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  9. 100 ml Water (to dilute seasoning)
  10. 1 tablespoon Corn Starch (thickening)
  11. 20ml Water (to dilute corn starch)

B. Waterless Steamed Scallops (Carrot + 1 minute)

  1. 10 Frozen Scallops (thawed)
  2. 20ml Water

C. Waterless Cooked Broccoli (Carrot + 4 minutes)

  1. 150 grams Broccoli (cut into similar size florets)
  2. 30ml Water

D. Other Ingredients

  1. 200 grams Chinese Cabbage (cut into 2 inches long)
  2. 50 grams Lotus Roots (cut into 5mm thin slices)
  3. 6 medium size Prawns (deveined)
  4. 5 grams Black Moss (soaked till soft)
  5. 3 medium size Abalones
  6. 100ml Water

AMC Healthy Cooking Method :

A. Sea Cucumber, Dried Oyster & Mushroom Stew (May be prepared 1 day ahead and kept refrigerated)

  1. Dilute oyster sauce and black pepper in a bowl of 100ml water. Add mashed garlic to brown in an AMC 20cm 4.0 litre Pot unit. Switch on Navigenio at heat level 3 and turn on Audiotherm, place on Lid knob, indicating “Meat Window” or 50°C.
  2. As Audiotherm beeps, add sesame oil to the mashed garlic. Gently stir and add chicken breasts, dried oyster and mushrooms into the Pot unit. Gently stir and spread ingredients evenly in Pot unit. Add sauce diluted in water into Pot unit. Cover with an AMC 20cm Secuquick Softline Lid.
  3. Switch on Navigenio to “A”. Turn on Audiotherm, place on lid knob, indicating “Turbo” and set for 10 minutes to stew.
  4. As Audiotherm beeps, turn off Audiotherm and Navigenio. Let Pot unit slowly depressurize on its own. As Pot depressurized, add in sea cucumber. Switch on Navigenio on automatic mode, “A”. Turn on Audiotherm and place on Lid knob, indicating “Carrot Window” or 80°C and set 5 minutes to cook.
  5. When Audiotherm beeps, remove lid and pour the diluted corn starch with 20ml water into the chicken stew to thicken gravy with the residual heat. Stir well and set aside.

B. Waterless Steamed Scallops (May be prepared 2 hours before reunion dinner)

  1. Add scallops and water into an AMC 16cm 1.3 litre Benjamin Pot unit. Cover with the AMC 16cm Classic Lid.
  2. Switch on Navigenio to automatic mode, “A”. Turn on Audiotherm, place on lid knob, indicating “Carrot Window” or 80°C and set for 1 minute to cook.
  3. As Audiotherm beeps, turn off both Audiotherm and Navigenio. Set aside.

C. Waterless Cooked Broccoli (May be prepared 2 hours before reunion dinner)

  1. Add broccoli and water into an AMC 20cm 2.3 litre Shallow Pot Cover with the AMC Easy Quick Lid.
  1. Switch on Navigenio to automatic mode, “A”. Turn on Audiotherm, place on lid knob, indicating “Steam Window” or 97°C and set for 1 minute to cook.
  2. As Audiotherm beeps, turn off both Audiotherm and Navigenio. Remove lid and set aside.

D. Other Ingredients (Final cook when everyone is around)

  1. Arrange all other ingredients into an AMC 24cm 2.0 litre Roasting Pan unit as follows :-

First layer : Chinese cabbages and Lotus roots.

Second layer : Dried oysters, Mushrooms, Sea cucumber, Scallops, Broccoli, Black Moss, Prawns and Abalone.

  1. Pour in all liquid/gravy from the pre-cooked A, B and C dishes above.
  2. Use an AMC 24cm Classic Dome Lid to cover all ingredients stacked up high in the Pan unit.
  3. Switch on Navigenio to automatic mode, “A”. Turn on Audiotherm, place on lid knob, indicating “Carrot Window” or 80°C and set for 5 minutes to cook.
  4. As Audiotherm beeps, turn off both Audiotherm and Navigenio. Serve piping hot with steamed rice.

Tips : I prepared this Mini Hakka Poon Choi with an AMC 24cm 2.0 litre Roasting Pan for 3 person. If you have a big family and wish to prepare a much bigger portion, you may prepare this similar Hakka Poon Choi with the AMC 28cm 3.0 litre Roasting Pan for 5-6 person or the AMC 32cm 9.5 litre Party Pot/Jumbo for 10-12 person. With bigger Pot/Pan, you may have 3 or more layers where all kinds of meat dishes can be layered in the 2nd layer. The seafood layer will always be the top layer to avoid overcooking them as they cook rather quickly. The second layer can be roasted chicken, roasted duck, roasted pork, Hakka yam & pork stew, deep fried or stew trotter, pig’s tendon and many more.

First Layer : Chinese Cabbages (Bak Choi) symbolises Hundreds Variety of Wealth Luck and Lotus Roots (Nin Ngau) symbolizes Longevity.

Second Layer : Dried Oysters (Hou Si) symbolizes Good Episodes, Mushrooms (Dong Gu) symbolizes Longevity and Sizing Opportunities, Sea Cucumber (Hoi Sum) symbolizes Happiness.

Second Layer : Scallops (Dai Tzi) symbolizes Luck to have Next Generation.

Second Layer : Broccoli (Sai Lan Fa) symbolizes Luck of Love

Second Layer : Black Moss (Fat Choi) symbolizes Wealth Luck.

Second Layer : Prawns (Ha) symbolizes Energetic or Excellent Health and last but not least, Abalone (Bao Yue) symbolizes Guaranteed Balance or Extra Wealth.

Cover Pan unit with a Dome Lid.

Turn on Navigenio on automatic mode, “A”. Hook Audiotherm onto lid knob and set to cook up to “Carrot Window” or 80°C plus 5 minutes.

As I have small family, I prepared a mini Poon Choi with an AMC 24cm 2.0 litre Roasting Pan for the Chinese New Year eve dinner. If you have a big family to serve, you may prepare this similar Hakka Poon Choi with the AMC 28cm 3.0 litre Roasting Pan, the AMC 32cm 9.5 litre Party Pot for 3 or more layers where all kinds of meat dishes can be layered in the 2nd layer. The seafood layer will always be the top layer as they cook rather quickly.

Here is my 5 Minutes Mini Hakka Poon Choi for 3 (plus 1 toddler).

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *