Pen Cai 盆菜

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I think I am very kiasu lor. Christmas is not even here yet, but I am already starting to prepare for CNY dishes !! But because Corningware is having a year end sale, so what’s better than not taking this opportunity to grab a few of their very versatile and classic pots and transforming them into ideas for the festive dishes !

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The upcoming CNY comes earlier this year in January and that’s like 2 months away only. So after all the Christmas baking, the CNY preparation should come at almost instantaneous without a break. Hence, I felt the need to start early now, at least having the time and purpose to make sure every recipe works out fine and when the actual preparation starts, I won’t be all apprehensive and rushing through everything which often results in pitfalls.

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Pen Cai (盆菜) is a very traditional Chinese festive dish where we gathered all the most “luxurious” ingredients and  delicately presenting them in a huge pot. The types of ingredients used are numerous and in fact you are free to serve up anything you liked in this all in one-pot dish. The most typical foods that are commonly used are abalone, sea cucumber, scallops, prawns, roast pork and fish maw just to name a few.

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So you can imagine the “weight” of the dish, whether it is in terms of price or the food itself. It’s definitely a pricey dish if you were to purchase it commercially. However if you choose to DIY it at home, this dish isn’t that tough to churn up with either and the best of it all, you can customize it exactly to your needs and preferences. Just like if you love abalone more than the other stuffs, simply chuck the whole can of it or even more as you desire and less of the other stuffs to make up for the extra !!

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In my humble opinion, I find the Corningware pots are very versatile in terms of cooking and presentation. As compared to the traditional clay pots used in presenting Pen Cai which is much much heavier, and more especially so with the tons of food placed in it, the lighter weight Corningware pots are definitely more classic looking and can easily caters for even small families when a mini Pen Cai is desired. What’s more, the leftovers can be set aside in the pot itself and re-heating is done in a breeze as all you gotta do is to lift out the entire pot and sent it to the microwave.

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And what’s more, from 24 November 216 till 3 January 2017, not only do you get to enjoy gifts with purchase when you purchase Corningware and Corelle products, there are also massive savings from the usual retail price. The upcoming festive are perfect reasons to revamp your kitchens with new cook and dinner ware whilst they also make brilliant gift ideas for anyone who loves to create a storm with food !

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Enjoy feasting on this Pen Cai !!

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Pen Cai 盆菜
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 pc white radish, approximately 400-500g cut into pieces
  • 5 pcs fresh prawns (trim away the feeders and make a slit on the shells on both sides to remove the thread of dirt but leaving the shells intact)
  • 5 pcs fresh scallops
  • 5 pcs Chinese mushrooms (soaked in water until soft and drained)
  • 5 pcs dried scallops
  • 1 pc fish maw (soaked in water overnight until soft and drained before cutting into pieces)
  • 1 pc sea cucumber, cut into pieces
  • 1 can abalone, thinly sliced (reserve the abalone brine in the can)
  • few pcs of pacific clams
  • some roast pork (recipe can be found here)
  • some roasted duck (recipe can be found here)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 litre chicken stock (can be store bought or home made)

For the Seasoning:
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp dark soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp hua diao wine
  • dash of pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat up 1 tbsp of cooking oil and add the minced garlic and ginger. Stir fried briefly.
  2. Add in the sliced onions followed by half of the chicken stock till it starts to boil.
  3. Add in the dried scallops, sea cucumber, fish maw and radish before adding the remaining stock.
  4. Add in the seasoning ingredients except the hua tiao wine, keep stirring to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the casserole.
  5. Add in the softened Chinese mushrooms and continue stirring.
  6. When the broth has reduced in volume around 15 to 20 minutes later, add in the brine from the can of abalone.
  7. Remove the sea cucumber once it has softened and set aside. If the sea cucumber is cooked for too long, it will disintegrate till nothing. Taste and adjust with slightly more water or stock if necessary. Continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
  8. Add in the fresh prawns and fresh scallops. Continue stirring for around 10 minutes till the prawns and scallops are cooked.
  9. Add in the roast pork and roast duck, followed by the huatiao wine. Stir to mix well and off the flame.
  10. Arrange the white radish at the bottom of the casserole and the rest of the ingredients on top, including the sliced abalone. Pour the hot gravy over and serve.
Notes
1) Sea cucumber should be removed from the broth once softened to prevent it from disintegration if being cooked for too long.
2) If a casserole is used, keep stirring to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pot, which will often happen after the fish maw start to "disintegrate".Adding the stock and abalone brine at different stages help to prevent this as well.
3) If store bought chicken stock is used which can be slightly saltier, adjust with some water accordingly after taste.
4) The step of adding the roast pork and duck into the broth is optional. I included that as I wanted the meat to absorb the flavours of the broth as well. Otherwise, you can just arrange it as per they are in the pen cai at the end of it.

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