Poon Choi aka Big Bowl Feast

Poon Choi is also known as a Big Bowl Feast and a traditional type of dish originating from Hong Kong village Cantonese cuisine. I never had the opportunity to try it before, but when we hiked to Lai Chi Wo, Annie from the MeetUp group had organised this fantastic meal in advance.

Poon Choi in Lai Chi Wo 1

The lunch was prepared inside the old Siu Ying Primary School but there was no space to sit inside, only a few tables and chairs outside.

Poon Choi in Lai Chi Wo 2

Poon Choi was an invention of early settlers in New Territories, who had been driven south of the mainland by a series of barbarian invasions in China between the 13th to 17th centuries. 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 containers, put the resulting dishes in wooden washbasins. In this way, Poon Choi was invented.

Poon Choi in Lai Chi Wo 3

Poon Choi includes many different ingredients, which are layered above each other. Our traditional village version had the basic ingredients including pork, fish maw, prawn, dried mushroom, fishballs, squid, dried shrimp, dried oyster, pigskin, beancurd and Chinese radish. It was topped with a chicken. Apparently, if you go to restaurants in Hong Kong during the Chinese New Year, you can order the ‘posh’ version, which can include abalone and shark fin.

Poon Choi in Lai Chi Wo 4

Poon Choi is special in that it is composed of many layers of different ingredients. It is also eaten layer by layer instead of “stirring everything up”, but impatient diners may snatch up the popular daikon radish at the bottom first using shared chopsticks.

Poon Choi in Lai Chi Wo 5

Relatively dry ingredients such as seafood are placed on the top while other ingredients, which can absorb sauce well, are assigned in the bottom of the basin. This allows sauces to flow down to the bottom of the basin as people start eating from the top.

Poon Choi in Lai Chi Wo 6

We used an extra pair of chopstick to mix and overturn the food and we all worked together to reach the different layers of food.

Poon Choi in Lai Chi Wo 7

At the end, when half the food was gone and the sauces were left at the bottom, we added cabbage leaves and put the metal basin on a gas flame, so cook the cabbage in the sauce.

Poon Choi in Lai Chi Wo 8

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3 responses to “Poon Choi aka Big Bowl Feast

  1. Pingback: Soft tofu dessert | bluebalu: Living in Hong Kong·

  2. Pingback: B&W Photography: Impressions from the Lai Chi Wo hike | bluebalu: Living in Hong Kong·

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