Happy Chinese New Year to all my Chinese friends! 2017 is the year of the Rooster, and because I have no idea what that entails, I googled it. I found this nifty graph showing how people born in a year of the Rooster (i.e. 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and 2029) will do in 2017 when it comes to work, love, wealth and health. Check out how scientific the folks at Chinahighlights.com made it all look:
This shows what's lucky and unlucky for Roosters. Note the cockscomb (obviously) and how Roosters should never, ever, venture east.
I'm not superstitious at all but it's fun to look at horoscopes sometimes, especially during Chinese New Year! But y'all know what's more fun than zodiacs during CNY? Eating the food my Mom makes.
This year, my Mom switched it up a bit. Instead of making multiple dishes, she made poon choi, or 盆菜, which literally means "basin vegetables" in Chinese. Ingredients are cooked separately, layered carefully and topped with an assortment of delicacies. Each person at the table takes food from the "basin", layer by layer, from the top to the bottom. Eating 盆菜, or "big bowl feast", signifies abundance and richness in the coming year.
FYI. According to Wikipedia, poon choi was invented during the late Song Dynasty. When Mongol troops invaded Song China, the young Emperor fled to the area around Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. To serve the Emperor as well as his army, the locals collected all their best food available, cooked it, and because there were not enough serving containers available put the resulting meal in large wooden washbasins.
There are all the ingredients that went into my Mom's poon choi:
⇒ Bottom layer: white radish, carrots, cabbage (白蘿蔔, 紅籮蔔, 長紹菜)
⇒ 2nd layer: roasted duck, oil chicken, roasted bbq pork, brined pork stomach (烧鴨肶, 油雞肶, 烧肉, 鹵水猪肚)
⇒ 3rd layer: fish maw, sea cucumber, shiitake mushroom, dried scallop (花膠, 海参, 冬菇, 瑤柱)
⇒ Top layer: black moss, abalone, soy sauce marinated tiger shrimp, egg tofu and broccoli (發菜, 鲍魚, 豉汁明蝦, 玉子豆腐, 西蘭花)
A short Instagram video of my Mom pouring homemade chicken broth into the pot on the stove. That sizzle thooo (don't mind my Dad talking in the background).
Each bite of the poon choi was such a treat - I wouldn't change a thing. The poon choi fed the five of us no problem..there was so much food in there!
Before I go, I want to mention the most precious ingredient in the poon choi, which was the abalone. My mom bought this "Gold Price" boiled canned abalone from the supermarket. With just two abalones inside, this can was close to $70. The mollusks were tender with a bit of chewiness to them, and due to the salt water they lived in, the meat tasted a bit salty.
Like always, my Mom totally spoiled us :) Thanks, Mom!