Gourmet Garden

Hunting For The Flavors & Texture Of Yesteryears'

Poon Choi(盆菜) Home-Cook vs Commercial

Posted by Jason Wong On February - 7 - 2011 |

On the second(2nd) day of this Chinese Lunar New Year my sister decided to have “Poon Choi” (盆菜) from Dragon-i for dinner to celebrate the beginning of Spring or lì chūn (立春)。The Dragon-i’s ‘Prosperity Abalone Treasure Pot’ set is priced at RM 388 and RM338 for CIMB Bank customers, and boast to have 16ingredients with an approximate weight of 8.5 pounds or 3.85kg. The ingredients listed in the broacher are Australian premium abalone (10head), Australian sea cucumber, Japanese dried scallop, Japanese dried oyster, premium mushrooms, Pantai Remis fresh sea prawn, fish maw, roast chicken, roast pork belly, Golden Money Bag, yam, black moss, Chinese Cabbage, Tianjin Cabbage, deep-friend bean curd skin and radish.  But bear in mind that they are allowed to substitute or change the ingredients as stated in their marketing literature.

As there were an over whelming demand for treasure pot set, they ran out of pots thus we had to bring our own Japanese claypot which was significantly bigger. For take-away, the stock was packed separately and all the ingredients placed in individual sections and layers.

Once we got back home after driving through the jammed Jalan Batu Ferringghi, we added the stock and reheated the treasure pot. But half way through reheating, a very light burnt smell was coming from the pot. The cabbage leaves that were place at the bottom started to burn from the heat because the leaves have more fibres and less moisture compared to radish and burns easily. Therefore, extra care should be taken when reheating it at home.

The following photos show the layers of ingredients that came in the treasure pot. If I am not mistaken, those stated in their brochures were all present except for the fish maw (花胶筒) and black moss (发菜). Presentation wise it looked like any soupy claypot dish and its taste did not excite our palates nor leave a very lasting impression. The mushrooms and roast pork belly were a size overly big, the sea cucumber had a fishy taste and the abalones were bland, and all ingredients tasted with same flavor, but the soup stock was averagely light and sweet.

Back in 2008 before the market went bonkers with Poon Choi promotions and packages, we had begun researching for the origins and recipes that we could easily adopt or adapt for local ingredients and taste preference. We started with  a recipe that had Hakka influence that required every ingredient that goes in to the pot to be individually prepared and cooked so as  to present layers of flavours and texture when you start consuming the Poon Choi. The preparing process includes a few cooking method, such as steamed, deep fried, pan grilled, poached, braised an so on.

Each layer has their unique flavours. As you eat through the layers and go down to the bottom, you will find layers of pork skin, bean curd skin and radish used to layer the bottom to minimize burning and most importantly to soak up the flavours that have trickled down.

Then in 2010, my in-laws did another version of poon choi that require less tedious work for their Chinese New Year reunion dinner. It had radish, bean curd skin, stewed chicken (feet), roast duck, salted fried prawns, stewed mushrooms, vegetables and canned abalone. It also delivered layers of flavours and texture minus some hard work.

Which version above could really draw your appetite?

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2 Responses to “Poon Choi(盆菜) Home-Cook vs Commercial”

  1. cariso says:

    This is not the first time I heard ‘for hmm dui pan’ on dragon-I poon choy. Hey, your version can order or not? got take-away? I don’t mind bringing my own pot. :)
    cariso´s last blog post ..Beef Noodles of Kochabi lacking the umph!

    [Reply]

    Jason Wong Reply:

    Remember the ‘Boh Bola Orang’ dinner. We try avoid going except boh pien.

    Can order, but must wait until we can get our own kitchen…pray hard for us lah!

    [Reply]

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