This version of Hakka pen cai comes with a light broth flavoured with seafood and meat.
Chinese New Year is always a family affair for Then Chui Foong, 45, technical chef at gourmet food and beverage supplier Euraco Finefood, and her mother Soh Lee Chin, 73, a retired hawker.
From baking pineapple tarts to preparing pots of pen cai (one-pot meal) or steamboat for reunion dinner, they make sure everyone is well-fed through the festive season.
Their version of Hakka pen cai does not come with the usual rich braising sauce. Instead, it comes with a light broth flavoured with seafood and meat.
Madam Soh says in Mandarin: “This version is lighter, suitable for those who are more health-conscious. The flavour of each ingredient is not masked by a thick sauce.”
DELUXE HAKKA FORTUNE POT
- 300g dried sea cucumber
For the stock
- 100g soya beans
- 250g chicken bones
- 200g chicken feet
- 2 litres water
- 2 tsp oyster sauce
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 300g napa cabbage (wong bok), washed, each leaf sliced into three or four pieces
- 300g yam, skin removed, sliced into 1cm-thick slices, quartered and deep-fried
- 80g dried shiitake mushrooms, washed, soaked (save soaking liquid for stock), stems trimmed
- 200g steamed chicken, chopped into chunks
- 200g roast duck, chopped into chunks
- 200g roast pork, sliced into 1cm-thick pieces
- 200g fish maw, soaked in hot water and blanched
- 300g prawns, washed, feelers and legs trimmed
- 80g dried oysters, washed, soaked and drained dry
- 80g fresh scallops
- 300g pork tendon, boiled and sliced into 8cm-long pieces
- 150g abalone or about eight pieces (save liquid in the can for stock)
- 20g black moss, soaked and strained
- To prepare the sea cucumber: One day before cooking the pen cai, wash the sea cucumber and leave to soak overnight. The next day, wash again and continue soaking.
- When the texture becomes soft enough to be cut, use a pair of scissors to snip down the length of one side.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the sea cucumber for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and continue soaking. Repeat this procedure three times.
- Clean out its intestines and portion into 8cm-long pieces. Set aside.
- To make the stock: Place the soya beans, chicken bones and chicken feet in a deep pot. Pour water in and bring to a boil.
- Stir in the oyster sauce, salt, sugar and sesame oil. Boil for at least one hour and set aside.
- To assemble the pen cai: In a large claypot, place a flat steaming tray at the bottom. This is to prevent ingredients from getting burnt. Place the napa cabbage, yam, and mushrooms at the base of the pen cai as these ingredients take longer to cook.
- Add the chicken, duck, roast pork, fish maw, sea cucumber, prawns, dried oysters, scallops, tendon, abalone and black moss.
- To the stock, add the liquid from the canned abalone and the water the mushrooms were soaked in. You should end up with about 2 litres. Then, pour the stock into the claypot. There should be enough stock to cover all the ingredients. If it is insufficient, add more water.
- Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Ensure the liquid does not dry up. If necessary, add more stock or water.
- Season to taste and serve hot.
Serves eight to 10
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 11, 2018, with the headline ‘Chefs’ festive favourites’.