Thursday 30 January 2014

Big Bowl Feast ( Poon Choi / Pen Cai) 盆菜

Big Bowl Feast ( Poon Choi / Pen Cai ) 盆菜

Recipe source : Doris Choo of  Sumptuous Flavours

Poon Choi ( in Cantonese ) or Pen Cai ( in Mandarin ) is a cultural heritage food of Hong Kong. It was first served in a large wooden basin to the Emperor and his army during the Sung Dynasty.

It has since been widely commercialised in Hong Kong. Various ingredients such as pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, seafood, abalone, bean curd, Chinese radish, broccoli, pigskin, prawns and fish maw are cooked and assembled layer by layer in large earthen or metal pots.

The trick lies in mingling the various food, layer by layer, so that the variety of flavours blend well between the layers to complement each other to create a wonderful big bowl feast. 

Today, the 30th of January 2014 is the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year, heralding the year of the Horse. Chinese across the globe are rushing back home to celebrate the annual reunion dinner with their loved ones. Our two older children who are working abroad have come home to celebrate this joyous and auspicious occasion. 

We have prepared a poon choi to cater to everyone's palate, all assembled together in one big earthen bowl ! It is time consuming, no doubt about it, but it is not difficult. All you need to do is plan ahead.l For us, it was a matter of putting all our favourite dishes together. We discussed among ourselves to assure ourselves the various layers of flavours can blend well together. It was well worth the extra time and effort. We had a great feast! 

Special Thanks to Alvin from Chef and Sommelier for providing the inspiration. 

Wishing all friends and readers Gong Xi Fa Cai! 
May the year of the Horse brings you joy, happiness and prosperity all year round!

Base layer - Braised pork knuckles with radish



500g pork knuckle, cut into pieces
2 radishes, cut into chunks
1/4 piece Shanghai nam yee, mashed
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 sprig parsley, cut into sections of 3 cm
1 stalk spring onion, cut into sections of 3 cm
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
 1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 1/2 bowls water


1.  Heat wok and add oil. Saute chopped garlic until fragrant.
2.  Add mashed name yee and pork knuckles. Stir-fry until pork knuckles change colour.
3.  Add water and radish. Add oyster sauce, light soy sauce, salt and sugar.
4.  Cook for about 30 minutes or until pork knuckles are tender.
5.  Add parsley and spring onion. Stir to mix well.
6.  Dish up. Separate the gravy from the solids.
7.  Place the pork knuckles and radish into a large earthen ware pot.

2nd layer - pigskin


1 small piece of dried pigskin


1.  Soak pigskin until soft. Boil pigskin for about 20 minutes.
2.  Pour away the water. Rinse and squeeze the pigskin gently several times.
3.  Boil again for another 10 minutes or until the pigskin is soft.
4.  Cut into bite-sized pieces.
5.  Squeeze out water from the pigskin. Ensure you squeeze out all the water.
6.  Place the pigskin pieces into the earthen ware pot over the base layer.
7.  Then pour the sauce from the braised pork knuckles and radish over the pigskin layer. 

Place the pigskin over the base layer of braised pork knuckles with radish

Pour the gravy from the braised pork knuckles over the layer of pigskin.
The pigskin soaked up the gravy and absorbed the flavour from the braised pork knuckles

3rd Layer - Deep-fried bean curd sheets

1/2 a piece of bean curd sheet 



1.  Deep dry the bean curd sheet in hot oil. 
2.  Break into smaller pieces.
3.  Place them over the 2nd layer.

3rd layer :  Deep-fried bean curd sheets

4th Layer - Stir-fired Chinese Cabbage


300g Chinese cabbage
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp water



1.  Heat wok and add cooking oil.
2.  Pour in Chinese cabbage and stir-fry until cabbage is softened. 
3.  Add 2 tbsp water and salt.
4.  Cook for a further 1 minute.
5.  Dish up and pour this over the deep-fried bean curd sheet layer.

4th layer

5th Layer :  Braise mushrooms with top shell

 Marinated mushrooms : with 1 tbsp shao hsing wine, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp oil

 A can of top shells

Top shells


12 pieces of small dried mushrooms - marinated with 1 tbsp shao hsing wine, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp oil
1 tin top shell, sliced
1 tbsp chopped garlic
6 slices ginger
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp dark soya sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 bowl water
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp cornstarch     )  mix to form
1 tbsp water           )  thickening solution



1.  Heat wok. Add cooking oil.
2.  Fry the ginger slices and chopped garlic until fragrant.
3.  Add in the mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 minute.
4.  Add oyster sauce, dark soya sauce, salt and 1/3 bowl of water
5.  Cook for 2 minutes and add thickening solution.
6.  Dish up and arrange this around the stir-fried Chinese cabbage and over the deep-fried bean curd sheets. 

Premium Layer

200g roast roast pork
300g large prawns : make garlic prawns
1 tin abalone
1 chicken whole leg : make drunken chicken
100g baby bok choy 


 Roast pork  - Home-made

To make sauce for drunken chicken

1 bowl chicken stock
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp shao hsing wine
 dash of sesame oil



1.  Boil chicken stock, sugar, sesame oil and salt together.
2.  Cool down and add in wine.
3.  Place chicken whole leg into the solution.
4.  Marinate for three to four hours. 
5.  Chop into bite-sized pieces

Drunken chicken

To make garlic prawns

300g large prawns, remove vein and cut a slit across the back 
1 tbsp chopped garlic
4 chilli padi
1 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp cooking oil


1.  Heat wok. Add oil and saute the chopped garlic until fragrant.
2.  Add prawns and chilli fry until turn colour to pinkish-red.
3.  Add soya sauce and continue to fry until cooked.
4.  Dish up and set aside.

To prepare baby bok choy

100g baby bok choy
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2bowl water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar


1.  Boil half a pot of water.
2.  Add 1 tsp lye water.
3.  Blanch baby bok choy. Rinse with running water.
4.  Drain away the water.
5.  Heat 1/2 bowl water, add in oyster sauce, salt and sugar and bring to a boil.
6.  Add in blanched bok choy and stir for one minute.
7.  Remove and set aside.

Assembling the premium layer

1.  Arrange the five ingredients of the premium layer round the top of the earthen pot


I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest : Hong Kong + Macau - Jan & Feb 2014, hosted by Annie from Annielicious Food

Saturday 25 January 2014

Hong Kong Boat Congee 香港艇仔粥

Hong Kong Boat Congee 香港艇仔粥

Recipe source :  Doris Choo of Sumptuous Flavours

Boat congee is very popular in Hong Kong and Macau. The congee is very smooth and delicious. The variations of ingredients used in the making of boat congee are extensive. Each shop may not be using exactly the same ingredients from another. But basically, an assortment of seafood, pork and peanuts are used in the making of the boat congee, although some omit the use of peanuts.

My attempt to search for Hong Kong boat congee online has not been very successful, or rather I should say it wasn't what I was looking for.  Somehow, the photos and the ingredients mentioned were not similar to what I had eaten in Hong Kong and Macau.

Anyway, I came up with my own version i.e. if my recollection is correct! Of course, it does not measure up to the professional standard of those served in Hong Kong restaurants, but if I may say so, my boat congee tasted pretty good!  


150g rice,
150g shrimps, remove shell and keep the tails intact
10g dried pig skin, soak and boil to remove odour,  then rinse thoroughly before cutting into thin strips
30g dried cuttle fish, soak in water until soft and cut into thin strips
30g dried scallops
1800 litres water
1 tbsp ginger oil
1 stalk spring onion, chopped
1 tsp salt

 Preparation for rice :

1.  Wash the rice the night before and soak with enough water to just cover the rice.
2.  Put the rice into a container and freeze the contents overnight. 

Note : It is believed that the cooking time to boil the porridge would be cut down and the texture of the porridge would be smoother.

Frozen rice

 Dried scallops

 Strips of pig skin


Strips of soaked cuttle fish


1.  Place the frozen rice and ice together with the dried scallops, cuttle fish, and pig skin into a large pot.
2.  Add in water and boil. Once it comes to a boil reduce to medium flame and continue to simmer for 45 minutes. Stir the contents occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot.
3.  When the rice grains have broken and the consistency is smooth and gluey, add shrimps and stir well for 2 to 3 minutes. 
4.  Add salt and switch off the flame.
5.  Add ginger oil and the chopped spring onion. 

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest : Hong Kong + Macau - Jan & Feb 2014, hosted by Annie from Annielicious Food

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Prawns Done HK Shelter Bay-Style 避风塘虾

Prawns Done HK Shelter Bay-Style 避风塘虾

 Recipe source :  Y3K Issue 51 11/12 - 2009

The magazine where I got this recipe did not mention the origin of this dish. However, by the name of this dish, I guessed this dish originated from the boat people who used to live in Hong Kong's  Typhoon Shelter Bay and could possibly been adapted from the famous Typhoon Shelter Bay crabs which is very popular in Hong Kong. 

No matter its origin, this tasty and fragrant prawn dish is easy to prepare. The flavours from the combined ingredients blended very well together. You can discern the taste of the fermented black beans and the aroma from the Chinese cooking wine is just wonderfully infused into the prawns.

A great dish!. Finger-licking good!


600g prawns, rinse and pat dry


1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced shallot
1 tbsp fermented black beans
1/2 tsp chopped red chillies
2 chopped chilli padi or bird's eye chilli
10g chopped dried shrimps

Fermented black beans


1 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

Flour for coating

1/2 rice bowl of tapioca flour


1.  Heat wok with 2 bowls of oil over very high heat. Coat prawns with tapioca flour. Deep fry till cooked. Remove prawns.
2.  Leave a little oil in the wok. Saute condiments, add seasonings. Once it has come to a boil, add in the deep fried prawns. Mix well. Dish up.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest : Hong Kong + Macau - Jan & Feb 2014, hosted by Annie from Annielicious Food

I am also linking this to Cook-Your-Books #8
Organised by Joyce of  Kitchen Flavours

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Monday 20 January 2014

Roast Sweet Potatoes 烤番薯

Roast Sweet Potatoes 烤番薯

Recipe source : Doris Choo of Sumptuous Flavours

Oh, I just got to share this. These sweet potatoes are simply awesome!. Just scrub them clean and put them into the oven to bake. The strong aroma emitting from the oven will tell you when the sweet potatoes are done!

My family has been feasting on these for the past few days!. In between baking cookies, the oven was stuffed with these sweet potatoes. You may think I am crazy! But let me assure you, they are really good! So sweet, naturally sweet and so very fragrant, especially when it is still warm. But  then you really must find varieties which are good and check that outwardly they are blemish-free.

These hot potatoes brought back memories of us eating freshly roasted sweet potatoes bought from the night market during one cold winter in Taichung, Taiwan. The vendors baked the sweet potatoes in large metal drums using charcoal. I remember we were able to eat them while still very hot because we were freezing at the night market! It felt so good to hold the hot roasted potatoes in our palm in the freezing cold!

How to choose fresh sweet potatoes

If the sweet potatoes feel rock hard when you press them, then they are fresh. Those that are past their prime usually have a soft feel to it and are slightly wrinkled. Also, check both ends of the sweet potatoes to make sure they are not soft and wrinkled.


Sweet potatoes, any reasonable amount.

The red-skinned ones have yellow flesh, 
while the orange-skinned ones have orange flesh. Both varieties were imported from Indonesia and I bought them from NSK trade city, Selayang.


1.  Scrub the sweet potatoes with a brush.
2.  Cut of the wilted ends.
3.  Bake or grill in a hot oven at 220 degree C
4.  Baking time depends on the size of the sweet potatoes. For me, I used between 20 to 30 minutes on each side.
5.  Use a skewer or chopstick to pierce the sweet potato. If it goes through easily, then it is done.
6.  Anyway the awesome smell emitting from the sweet potatoes more or less tells you when it is done! 

Simply awesome!
Naturally sweet and so very fragrant!
Eat them while they are still warm

Saturday 18 January 2014

Fruity Yoghurt Jelly (Neen Neen Yau Yee) 年年有余

Fruity Yoghurt Jelly (Neen Neen Yau Yee) 年年有余

Recipe source :  Adapted from Amy Beh ( The Star Newspapers )

This fruity yoghurt jelly is made into the shape of a beautiful koi fish. The ingredients consist of three different types of fruits, namely strawberry (red), orange juice (orange) and kiwi fruit (green)  to form the beautiful hues of the koi fish. 

This is a great dessert after a hearty and sumptuous reunion dinner. "Neen Neen Yau Yee",  the auspicious sounding name in Chinese signifies so much prosperity and over-abundance of food, wealth and all good tidings, so much so that, there is a spill-over to the coming year!

I am sure everyone of us wants an over abundance of good tidings all year round!

Ingredients for Strawberry jelly

5g agar-agar powder
20g castor sugar
110ml water
50g strawberry, finely chopped
A few drops of red food colouring

Ingredients for Orange jelly

5g agar-agar powder
20g castor sugar
110ml orange juice (squeezed from 2 fresh oranges)
A few drops of orange food colouring

Ingredients for Kiwi jelly

5g agar-agar powder
20g castor sugar
50g kiwi fruit, finely chopped
110 ml water
A few drops of green food colouring

Ingredients for Yoghurt jelly

400ml water
60g castor sugar
10g agar-agar powder
150ml UHT milk
50g yoghurt 

Utensils required

A fish-shaped jelly mould
2 black beans for the eyes

 The fish-shaped jelly mould
Fruity jellies of three different colours, cut into strips, 
ready for assembling the Koi fish


1.  Heat the first three types of jelly individual to make jelly of red (strawberry, orange (orange juice) and green (kiwi fruit). Pour each colour into individual bowls and allow to set. 
2.  Cut the three different coloured jellies into fine strips. Set aside.
3.  Heat ingredients for yoghurt jelly until agar-agar powder and sugar dissolve. Keep warm.

To assemble the fruity fish jelly

1.  Place small lumps of coloured jelly along the base of the fish mould.Fill half-way first.
2.  Place the 2 black beans to make the eyes.
3.  Slowly pour yoghurt jelly into the mould into the coloured jellies.
4.  Wait a while to allow the jellies to set.
5.  Continue to place more coloured jellies to complete the koi fish. Pour in more yoghurt jelly to fill up the fish mould. Allow to cool and set before placing into refrigerator to chill. 
6.  Once fully set and chilled, remove the fish jelly from the mould. Ready for serving.

Cookies : Coconut Crisps 椰丝饼

Cookies :  Coconut Crisps 椰丝饼

Recipe source :  Y3K Magazine, Issue No. 40, 1/2 - 2008

Seems like all the cookies are disappearing before the Chinese New Year! I am getting frantic as there are so many more traditional types of cookies which I have bookmarked to try out yet I never seem to get round to making them and they just got postponed year after year! Sigh! Twenty four hours in a day is just not enough!

Now getting back to the assignment I have in mind today - coconut crisps. These are lovely. I just like the aroma of dessicated coconut baking in the oven. The fragrance of baking dessicated coconut so strongly permeating the air and wafting through my kitchen is a heavenly smell! Well, to me anyway! It took me back in time during my childhood as my siblings and I were anticipating sinking our teeth into the cookies baked by my late mother for the Chinese New Year. Gone were the days but happy memories remain.

Ingredients A

140g butter
120g Castor sugar

Ingredients B

3 egg yolks

Ingredients C

200g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Ingredients D

60g dessicated coconut

Ingredients E

10g cocoa powder


1.  Cream ingredients A for 1 minute, add beaten egg yolks. Beat until well blended.
2.  Fold in Ingredients C. Then add ingredients D and mix everything into a dough.
3.  Take out one third of the dough and add cocoa powder to it. Mix evenly to form a cocoa dough.
4.  Combine both dough together and mix well. Divide into 15g each and roll into rounds. Flatten the rounds slightly and place onto lined baking trays.
5.  Bake at preheated oven at 150 degree C for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.
6.  Cool and store in air-tight containers.

I am submitting this post to Bake Along - Chinese New Year Cookies
hosted by Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, Lena from Frozen Wings and Joyce of Kitchen Flavours

I am also linking this to Cook-Your-Books #8
Organised by Joyce of  Kitchen Flavours

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Monday 13 January 2014

Caramelized Sugar Cheese Jelly 焦糖芝士燕菜

Caramelized Sugar Cheese Jelly 焦糖芝士燕菜

Recipe source :  Y3K, issue No. 57  11/12 - 2010

My family loves jelly dessert. All the more delightful when it is well chilled before serving them after dinner.

The original recipe instructed to use 8 medium-sized jelly cups. I prefer smaller servings so I opted to use plastic jelly moulds which are often used to make konyakku jellies.

These cheese jellies look cute and are just the right size for small bites.

Ingredients A ( makes 22 pieces )

80g castor sugar
475ml water
1 tbsp agar-agar powder

Ingredients B

100g cream cheese
150ml fresh milk
80g Castor sugar
1 tbsp agar-agar powder

Ingredients C

300ml fresh milk
25g custard powder


Jelly moulds


1.  Caramel sugar of ingredients A over low heat. Do not stir but let it come to a light golden. Add in water and agar-agar powder. Let it come to a boil. Pour into moulds half full. Let it set slightly.
2.  Bring ingredients B to a quick boil. Add ingredients C. Once it comes to the next boil, turn off the heat.
3.  Pour the cream cheese mixture into the half-filled moulds of the caramelised sugar jelly.
4.  Let it set before transferring to the refrigerator for chilling.

I am linking this to Little Thumbs Up


The theme for January 2014 is Cheese, 

hosted by Alice of I Love. I Cook. I Bake

I am also linking this to Cook-Your-Books #8
Organised by Joyce of  Kitchen Flavours

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