Yum! 70-year-old lawyer's homemade pen cai and yusheng can rival restaurants

These indulgent dishes might look like they were ordered from a restaurant, but are actually prepared at home by Stomper Anon herself.

Anon, a 70-year-old lawyer, recently whipped up pen cai and yusheng for her loved ones over the festive season.

Anon said she was inspired to share her labour of love after reading a Stomp article comparing a $404 Chinese New Year dinner at Ban Heng Restaurant to a housewife's cheap and tasty homemade dishes.

Pen cai, or poon choi, is a traditional Cantonese meal composed of many layers of different ingredients. It is typically enjoyed during the Lunar New Year as the dish is filled with layers of premium seafood and meat, symbolising prosperity and abundance.

Yusheng, also known as Prosperity Toss. is a Cantonese-style raw fish salad.

Anon told Stomp: "Thought I could share the food I cooked, which certainly costs a lot less than if I'd ordered from some restaurant. Depending on the quality and price of each ingredient, there will of course be a variation.

"My pen cai for seven people costs about $110 - $120. The prep time is around one hour or so, while the cooking time is 70 minutes.

"I used a total of 12 different items: Scallops, broccoli, chicken, prawns, abalone, dried oysters, shiitake mushrooms, sea cucumber stuffed with minced pork and fish, cuttlefish, white radish, cabbage, and pig's trotters.

"I also prepared my own yusheng with shredded green radish, white radish and carrots. The toppings were bought from the supermarket by my brother. Instead of getting salmon and because of Covid-19, we used canned baby abalone slices to crown it all."

Anon also shared photos of other dishes she had previously prepared, such as roasted porchetta made from pork belly.

Anon added: "I dare not claim to be a good cook although I've been interested in cooking and baking since my 20s. I enjoy trying out recipes and occasionally, I have guests who would be guinea pigs.

"I've always felt that people who can read recipes can cook. I consider trying out recipes to be a personal challenge that brings about a sense of fulfillment and joy when the results are satisfactory.

"Of course, having cooking and baking experience helps too. I also have a helper who's enthusiastic about cooking and baking, which makes a great difference.

"Due to work commitments, I do not have much time to cook. However, I'm practicing more selectively these days and that gives me more time to pursue my culinary interest. I'm thankful for that."

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