Wednesday 5 February 2014

Chinese New Year Treasure Pot / Basin Dish 盆菜

CNY Treasure Pot 盆菜 Photograph updated in January 2017.

Since we are still in the Chinese New Year (CNY) festive mood, I will compile and share recipes or/and methods on preparing some CNY delicacies and delights.  Galloping into a new year of the Horse, let me start by sharing my home-made Treasure Pot.

A CNY Treasure Pot symbolises wealth, abundance, unity and happiness when family members gather to share a meal from one big pot. Therefore, it is usually packed with layers and layers of top-grade seafood and meat like a treasure cove - allowing everyone to unveil layers of goodness together.

A Treasure Pot is typically priced between S$198 (for 2 to 4 pax) to S$388 (for 6 pax) in any restaurants.  I saved a great deal with my home-made version.

This was my first attempt on a home-cooked Treasure Pot - lined with layers of goodies. My layering may not be in the right order (like those from professional kitchens). Just my own version. It took me almost 3 hours to prepare and simmer each ingredient one at a time.... but importantly, my husband loved it!

Prior to layering, there were few steps that I did : 
  1. Stir fry aromatic ingredients such as finely chopped ginger, garlic, onions in claypot before layering the other essential ingredients. I added a little dried shrimps and dried scallops (both soaked beforehand) in the stir frying (爆香) process too.
  2. Simmer the mushrooms, fish maw, dried oysters and chicken in the claypot after stir frying the claypot with aromatic ingredients. I added oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, salt, sugar, a little dark soy sauce and chicken stock in this simmering process. 
  3. Remove chicken from claypot first when they are about 70% cooked. Set aside.
  4. Remove mushrooms, dried oysters and fish maw from claypot when they are cooked till softened. Set aside. Start layering process.
Layer 1 (Bottom Layer) - Cabbage (i removed the sauce/gravy from the pot for photography purpose. Do not remove the sauce/gravy in actual cooking process).
Layer 2 - Bean curd, Bean curd sheet, tao pok.
Layer 3 - Fish Maw. Place fish maw back into the pot or basin.
Layer 4 - Japanese Mushrooms. Place mushrooms back into the pot or basin.

Layer 5 (Top Layer) - The Good Stuffs - Abalone, Giant Scallops, Dried Oysters, Fried Pork Belly, Chicken Drumlets, Sea Cucumber, Prawns. It is easier to just use canned abalone that already come in brown sauce. Pre-boil or stir fry a little broccoli beforehand. They can be included in the top layer too. Remember to add scallops last as they can be easily overcooked. Once overcooked, they will have a rubbery texture when we chew on it. 
I only have electric stoves in my kitchen, hence, I had to use our BBQ pit fire to cook my treasure pot.  Top up sauce/gravy if necessary.  Add a little corn starch (stir in water before pouring in) to thicken the sauce/gravy. Simmer for few minutes before turning off heat. Add a few drops of sesame oil before serve.  
End product... true indulgence for the taste bud!
CNY Treasure Pot 盆菜 Photograph updated in January 2017. It has improved in taste and look over the years.

This pot is good to serve at least 4 persons - totally filled our stomachs without any need for rice.


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