Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pun choi feast

We were passing Pui O by bus today and spotted a pun choi (basin vegetable or big bowl) feast about to commence. Just the sight of the big metal bowls was enough to make my mouth water.

I can imagine what's inside: The traditional pun choi has eight core ingredients, according to politician-turned-food critic Stephen Ip, has pork belly, radish, pig skin, fish ball, bean curd skin, shiitake mushroom, chicken and squid.

These days, restaurants also add fish maw, dried oyster, roast duck and goose, and seafood such as prawn and crab.

Everything is seasoned with sauces like soy sauce or fermented bean sauce, then cooked in the metal bowls – though in the old days, they were cooked in a wooden basin.

The radish at the bottom is the most coveted because it has absorbed all the flavors during the long cooking time.

Pun choi feasts are usually held during family gatherings, religious festivals and big celebrations – like the Lunar New Year.

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