Hong Kong Hakka Poon Choi

Hong Kong Hakka Poon Choi

Poon Choi , which is literally translated to “Chinese casserole in a basin”, composes an important part of the Walled village culture in the New Territories. Villagers feast on the cuisine whenever there are celebrations connected with rituals, weddings, festivals, ancestor worship and other local events as an expression of village dining culture. However, this traditional Chinese dish was first invented in the Song Dynasty. It contains critical cultural values to Hong Kong and has shifted into different shapes in our modern world.

Poon Choi has existed in Hong Kong for more than 7 centuries. It is said that it was originated in the late Song Dynasty. When Song China was intruded by Mongolia, the young Emperor Bing (960-1279 AD) fled to the area around Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. To feed the emperor and his army, the locals collected quality and seasonal produce food and cooked it. Due to the lack of serving containers, ingredients were conscientiously crammed inside a wooden or clay washbasins.

Since large portion sizes is the trademark of Poon Choi , it is often served as a mainstream dish during celebrations including rituals, weddings, festivals, ancestor worship and other local events as an expression of village dining culture. Though the tradition is descended by older families in the New Territories, the dish is seldom well-received with newbies to Hong Kong, mostly because it is rarely served in a restaurant except during festivals.

Poon Choi, which is literally translated to “basin food”, is just what its name suggests- a large basin filled up with up to 14 ingredients (such as pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, abalone, shark fin, fish maw, prawn, crab, dried mushroom, fish balls, squid, dried eel, dried shrimp, pigskin, bean-curd, daikon , bamboo shoots), assembled into a casserole. Each item is prepared separately and then layered meticulously in the basin. The final product has a stew-like consistency, with the juices of the meat fusing with other ingredients.

Poon Choi has also reflected Hong Kong’s creativity in food culture. A lot of modern twists have been made on this traditional cuisine to cater to people’s constantly changing taste bud. Some posh versions offer delicacies such as oysters, abalone, dried scallops and shark fin. There are some that provide pumpkin and carrots which make incision easier for the elderly and vegetarian meat for non-meat eaters. Since Hong Kong is an international city, a variety of Poon Choi flavors like Japanese Poon Choi, curry Poon Choi as well as Western Poon Choi are also available.

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