Chinese New Year Recipes: Preparing your Treasure DishMonday, February 04, 2013
|My Mum-in-law's collection of abalones (all gifts), from last year and this. Getting them ready for steaming.|
I come now to the "treasure" dish. When was the last time I cooked this? Unless you are a Chinese restaurant chef, you don't cook this dishe regularly. Mentally, I have to go through the steps again, as the last time I cooked it was last year's CNY.
I can still remember how I painstakingly prepared the superior stock. I left it in the pot and my mama thought those were leftovers.
She washed the pot and dumped the stock into the sink. ... :(
Ouch. The precious stock joined our national sewage system, to be filtered into some 'new water.'
I was speechless. Unlike me, you won't want to mess up this expensive dish.
Overcook the abalone and you end up with a rubbery piece of something that is nearly inedible. Plan your cooking steps carefully.
A treasure dish or pencai (just another form) is basically about treasures in superior stock. Get the superior stock right. Get the textures of the abalone, mushrooms, goose web feet etc right, assemble and you have your dish.
This is what I use for my superior stock: 0.4 kg of lean pork (in cubes), 1 kampung chicken (remove the skin and fat, chop it up), 50 gm of Yunnan ham, and 10 pieces of chicken feet. The feet will add to the gelatinous texture of the stock. Simmer in about 2 litres of water for 2 hours. If you have pressure cooker, use it. Or if using a Magic Thermal pot, leave it there overnight. Remove the scum. You can add a bit of salt but not too much so that you have the option to adjust the flavors later. The stock needs to be thickened at some point and I normally do that just before I assemble the dish.
|Some of the treasures|
If you want to flavor the abalone & stock, steam the abalone pieces gently in the superior stock to mix the flavors. As for sea cucumber, get the better quality ones and you will hardly need to simmer them beyond an hour. Avoid the cheaper variety as they taste "fishy" and will ruin your treasure dish. Chinese of Japanese "flower" or dried shitake mushrooms, first soak them in warm water for about half an hour. This softens the mushrooms and also cleans them up. Then braise the mushroom in the stock for about an hour. I will braise the abalone, mushrooms and sea cucumber together at the same time. Add dried scallops if you have them (give them a quick soak first).
To repeat, make the superior stock. Then braise the treasures in the stock.
Obviously I do not have many pictures of this dish and I will need to remember to take some this Saturday.
Have fun cooking your treasures.