I don’t know what has got into me, but just a few days before the Chinese lunar new year, I decided that I should try cook Poon Choi this year. I am never a good cook and I wonder why I could step out of my comfort zone to prepare this challenging one pot dish.
Thanks to the internet and generous sharing by food bloggers, after reading up on how to go about preparing the ingredients, this seemingly complex dish actually isn’t really that difficult to prepare. However, it is a time consuming task to wash, cut and cook each ingredients before they are layered and assembled into the pot. The entire preparing and cooking process took me 3 hours with no help. I think it is not a prerequisite to have excellent culinary skills in order to be able to cook this dish, but rather, one must have a good understanding of each ingredient plus good stamina to be able to stand in the kitchen for a few hours. I believe in order to cook a delicious pot of treasure, one must use the correct type of ingredients (for example, the right type of yam), know the cooking time needed for each ingredients so as to avoid them being over cooked or under cooked. For example, the type of fish maw used, certain type requires much shorter cooking time; the type of dried shiitake mushrooms, certain types are very thick and require long hours of pre-soaking and cooking time. With this prior knowledge one would be able to plan ahead to cater to the preparation time for each separate ingredient.
Since the cooking process is quite a complex task, I listed down the types of ingredients, the steps, which ingredient to start the prep work, etc, read and re-read the instructions a few times so that everything goes into my head before I start the preparation work. I am glad that I have taken the time to do the pre-work as I didn’t encounter any kitchen mishaps and everything went on smoothly.
I didn’t plan to write this post since I am not able to share my recipe especially I was operating on a trial and error mode when I was preparing this dish. I wasn’t sure how my poon choi would turn out as it was my first attempt. However, the photos I took with my mobile phone weren’t too bad so I thought maybe I should share my cooking experience especially to those home cooks like me who are keen but are put off by the idea of making poon choi because it seems difficult. I came up with my own list of ingredients and instructions by gathering recipes from 3 main sources. One from the free Cold Storage Savour magazine (Jan/Feb 2016 issue), the marvelous 7 step instructions from herworldplus and the wonderful step by step tutorials and great tips from Noob Cook. Thanks to Noob Cook for her clear and detailed instructions and kudos to her for providing the auspicious symbolisms of the poon choi ingredients as well. In case you are interested, I learned how to cut the carrot flowers from Just One Cookbook.
The dish turned out delicious and everyone enjoyed the meal. It was really well worth the effort.