Easy Budget Edition Pen Cai 盆菜

Pen Cai (literally translates to “basin dish”) is a popular festive dish customarily enjoyed during Lunar New Year. A "basin dish" is a way to describe a brimming pot layered with premium seafood e.g. abalone, scallop, fish maw and meat e.g. roast pork. In short, a dish loaded with luxurious ingredients and delicacies to symbolize abundance and prosperity.

A menu mainstay in many Cantonese/Chinese restaurants during Lunar New Year, many home cooks now also make their own version at home.

Inspired by this concept, we made our own budget home version of "Pen Cai" with Chinese deli take-out leftovers (e.g. braised pork ribs, deep-fried-then-braised yuba/tofu sheets, fried prawns/shrimps).

Though not truly premium and luxurious, our home edition does not pale in flavors (and deliciousness). More importantly, it is very easy to prepare (compared to restaurant-style Pen Cai which might take an hour , minimum) and enjoyed by everyone at home.

Alternatively, this Abalone Scallops Veggie Hotpot Soup also makes the cut for Chinese New Year celebration.
Chinese New Year Easy Budget Edition Pen Cai
4-5 cups of chopped up cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1-2 cups of broccoli florets
2 tsp minced garlic (1 for broccoli prep and 1 for cabbage prep)
2-3 servings of combination braised ribs, yuba, shrimps/prawns (leftovers from Chinese deli take-out)

Ingredients: Layer the pot with cabbage, carrots, 1 tsp garlic. Steam-cook in rice cooker for about 15 minutes. When done, layer the seafood and meat on top of the cabbage, put the pot back to rice cooker and steam/warm for about 10-15minutes. Separately, steam the broccoli with garlic about 5 minutes. When done, add the broccoli on top of the cooked cabbage, meat, seafood. Serve warm.