November 10, 2013

Simple Homecooked Pen Cai 盆菜

1 napa cabbage, cut into pieces and separating the stem and leafy parts
4 dried mushrooms, rinsed and soaked
4 dried scallops, rinsed and soaked
8 pcs of fresh scallops, sliced into halves
8 pcs of prawns
2 roasted chicken drumsticks, bones removed
1 pkt golden mushrooms
1 small carrot, cut into flower shape and slice into 5 mm thickness
3 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk spring onion, chopped

6 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp chinese wine
Dashes of pepper

  1. Fry garlic till fragrant.
  2. Add chicken stock and seasoning.
  3. Stir well.
  4. Add the stems of napa cabbage, followed by leafy parts.
  5. Laid the carrots on top of napa cabbage.
  6. Bring to boil.
  7. Switch to small fire, cover and simmer for 15-20 mins till napa cabbage had softened abit.
  8. Set aside some carrots for arrangement.
  9. Arrange the rest of carrots, mushroom and dried scallops around the claypot.
  10. Using a flat plate slightly smaller than the diameter of your clay pot, arrange the rest of ingredients on it. Arrange some carrots around the ingredients.
  11. Use your hand to push the ingredients so that they slide into the clay pot with the arrangement still intact.
  12. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 mins till ingredients are full cooked.
  13. Add spring onions.
  14. Serve in claypot.

  • I am using a 2.9 litres Tanyu claypot.
  • The chicken stock seems little to begin with but after simmering, the water content in napa cabbage will seeped out. You can add more stock after napa cabbage had softened (if you prefer).
  • Use small fire and cover with lid while simmering the wong bok. This is to create a "steaming" effect with the small amount of stock in the claypot.

Watch video

Other attempts

In other attempts, roast pork was added at the sides and simmered together with the cabbage. The roast pork became tender and the broth is super yummy!

You can thicken the broth with corn starch by adding them after everything's been cooked. Just transfer some broth into another pot, add corn starch water until desired thickness before pouring them back into the pen cai claypot. Do not boil the broth after adding corn starch because it may burnt at the bottom of the pot.

A BonAppetour Experience with Pen Cai 盆菜 

Have you ever wish you could dine at some local's place when you travel?

I always wished I could visit their house and tastes their home cooked food. When I was approached with this concept, I thought it was awesome, except for one thing - I am the host instead of the guest! I felt quite apprehensive about opening up my home to complete strangers who will pay me for their meal. Erm, did I just said I wished I could eat at some strangers' house?

I was cracking my head. There are wide varieties of cuisines available in Singapore. What type of food is not easily available to foreigners or tourists?

So, I decided to make a Pen Cai (盆菜). We usually eat this dish during Chinese New Year and strangely, this one-pot wonder is so easy to make but I don't remember having it on a regular day. You can use many of your favourite ingredients to flavour the dish. I asked my guests for their choice and they chose chicken as the meat ingredient. In this Pen Cai, there's prawns, fresh scallops, roast chicken cooked in broth flavoured by nappa cabbage, dried mushrooms & dried scallops.

At around 6.30pm, the guests arrived at my place. They were from Beijing, Italy and Singapore. My hubby helped showed them to their seats while I served the pen cai and some seafood tofu puffs as side dish. I prepared some sambal belacan as dipping sauce but the Italian could not take spicy stuffs.

We had a good chat about their stay in Singapore. It was eating, talking and laughing throughout the dinner. I totally enjoyed hosting this dinner experience with BonAppetour. I am going to Penang early next year and I heard Penang already have three hosts! I look forward to be a guest dining at their place!

If you are booking a meal with BonAppetour, you can enjoy a 20% discount using this promo code : BA-Cassandra (Valid till 31/01/2014).