Chinese HotPot or SteamBoat

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Warm Hearty Dip and Cook  HotPot Meal

Ready : 30 mins Generic : Dip/Boil Difficulty : Tedious (Homemade) else Easy
[ Prep : 30 mins † Cooking : None † Excluding Marinating ] Printable Recipe

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It should be noted that there are two major time-factors NOT included in the above Time Schedule.  Preparing the Soup. The time for preparing the Soup base is abt 2 hrs but really only abt 15 mins are active in preparing the Ingredients – the rest of time is simply letting the Soup simmer itself – so, U simply prepare ahead of time.  Preparing the Stuffed Tofu (Yong Tau Foo). Now…, this is another matter altogether..😁. The VianD won’t specify an exact time needed for this bcos, much depends on the quantity prepared but have to say, this is really quite tedious and time-consuming (well.., at least to The VianD, it is !). If U are interested, here is the recipe for “Yong Tau Foo” – click for recipe. U can ofcos choose to buy the ready-made ones, your choice – but Nothing beats Homemade. The breakdown of the Time Schedule section of ‘Prep’ is mainly the time needed to prepare the raw Ingredients, in this case – Fish, Chicken Thighs and Prawns. No ‘Cooking Time’ bcos, everyone cook as they go along..😋. Sound fun, isn’t it ??? 😋 Seriously, Hotpot/Steamboat is an ideal meal for CNY and social gatherings as it allows everyone to sit around the table for some time as you cook your own food, hence promoting interaction and bonding..😉.

Chinese Hotpot or Steamboat”, refers to a variety of stew, using a constantly boiling metal pot of Stock (as Broth/Soup base). Placed at the center of the dining table, raw and fresh ingredients are laid out around the pot. Typical hot pot dishes would include Ingredients such as thin slices of meat, vegetables, mushroom, stuffed Tofu and a variety of seafood. The ingredients are cooked in the simmering pot and usually eaten with dipping sauce.

The Chinese hot pot boasts a history of more than 1000 years; it is a great creation by Chinese and has since spread to many countries. It is extremely popular with the Chinese – particular during Winter even though Hotpot is eaten all year round. However, Hotpot originated from the Mongolians and first appeared in China during early Qing Dynasty. Hotpot has since evolved into many different varieties but mainly on the Soup base flavoring – ranging from Hot/Spicy to Herbal or even Soya Milk.  (Source : Culture of Chinese.com)

This is the kind of Meal tat can be really complicated (if U choose to have everything homemade) or ridiculously simple (if U choose to buy everything ready-made). Here’s The VianD’s take on Chinese Hot Pot or Steam Boat. This is a very simple version, freshly boiled Soup base with lightly marinated simple Condiments – all packed with fresh natural sweetness. No fancy stuff..😋. Btw, the closest resemblance to this dish in the Western world would be “Fondue”.

EquipmenT & CutlerY

First and foremost, U need proper Equipment and Cutleries to fully enjoy this warm hearty Hot Pot meal with families and friends in one’s cozy home.  Basically, U need a Stove of somekind tat can heat up a pot of Soup at the dining table. Then U’ll need a set of Cutlery for each dinner – shown below at the Cutlery section. 

EQUIPMENT :

 The first picture is a traditional coal-heated Hot Pot. This has since been replaced by the more convenient electric, gas or induction cooker versions.

 The second picture is really a portable Gas Canister stand-alone Stove. Then U can have a pot of somekind for the Soup.

 The third picture is the one The VianD opted for – which is the Electrical Hot Pot. Most convenient among the three.

 Or alternatively, U can use a Rice-cooker or somekind of electric Cooker. But these may slow down the cooking time considerably.

CUTLERY :

 What is in the picture is really quite essential for a good comfortable Hot Pot meal.  Individual set. If U don’t have enough then U will have to make-do with a communal set – meaning someone will have to cook for all. Where is the fun then, ya ???😁

You should also place a communal plate in the center of the table to scoop out the cooked foods and not leave in the Pot and get overcook.


IngredientS

SOUP :

If there is a defining element of this dish, The VianD has to say, it is the Soup base. While it is common to start with just boiling water and add in some ‘Instant Stock Mix/Block’ and Ingredients like chunks of Carrot and Sweet Corn to get the flavors going. This ofcos, works on the principle tat – by the end of the meal, with all the Ingredients having cooked in it, the pot of Soup will be really flavorful. But what about, if U are like The VianD who is a sucker for good Soup and wants to start the meal with a bowl of warm hearty Soup ??? Ahhh..😇, U see the logic of having a good home-brewed Soup ??? Besides, for The VianD, it’s the Soup base tat really flavored all the Ingredients U cook in it from the start rather than the other way around. And ofcos, wat’s more heavenly than a bowl steaming hot natural sweetness soup to help wash down the food and not having to wait till the end of the meal ? Sooo, start with the Soup base…

 Two chicken carcasses – chopped to small pieces and smashed, just for easy flavors extraction.

 U can use any bones even Fish bones (make sure U sear the Fish Bones, to get rid of any fishy smell).





 Red  (or white) Carrot, Onion, Ikan Bilis, Soya Beans and Tung Choy (preserved Veggie). All chopped up for easy flavors extraction.

 Frankly, U can add anything that U think will help flavored the Soup – barring any exceptionally strong, overpowering Ingredients, unless U want the soup distinctly to carry tat particular flavor.


DIPPING SAUCE :

U cannot have Hot Pot without a Dipping sauce. Unless U are using some Hot and Spicy Soup base (in which case, the broth itself may be flavorful enough), any other milder cleaner Soup base call for a flavorful Dipping sauce. Dipping sauce can be a very personal thing and there are endless options – ranging from Sesame-base to Chilli-base to Peanut-base or even a pure simple raw Egg-yolk.

• To keep things simple and clean – The VianD opted for two very simple versions.  Just plain GOOD quality Light Soya sauce – this option will preserve the natural fresh sweetness of the Ingredients.  Thai Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce – this will give U the spicy/sourness kick.




INGREDIENTS/CONDIMENTS :

Here are all the Ingredients that The VianD opted for – all very simple, light and fresh. U can almost have any Ingredients U fancy such as the more budget-heavy and lavish ones like sliced Lamb, sliced Beef, sliced fresh Abalone, Fresh Scallop, Lobster, Crab or Oyster, just to name a few. As for the stuffed Ingredients – a.k.a. “Yong Tau Foo”, nothing beats homemade – but preparing them could quite tedious. Here is the recipe for “Yong Tau Foo” – click for recipe, if U are interested. U can ofcos choose to buy the ready-made ones, your choice. Frankly, essentially – this dish involves more of logistics/organizing (gathering ingredients) rather than any expertise in cooking. Hence anyone can host a fail-proof, yummy Hot Pot meal – no sweat !!! Errrr…, well, U’ll get all sweaty if U have this on a HOT day…

 Fresh Romania Lettuce – thoroughly clean and separate leaves.

 Homemade Stuffed Tofu and Tofu Pok. Frozen Fried Seafood Tofu and Fish Ball.

 Homemade Stuffed Red Chili, Okra, Brinjal, Fish Ball and Fried Fuchuk.

Sliced Grouper Fillet and Boneless Chicken Thigh. Marinated.

 Prawns. With whiskers and the legs removed, devein and
washed thoroughly. Marinated.

 It is common to have a variety of Veggies and Fresh
Mushrooms, even Noodles
.



MARINATE :

This is really optional. The VianD like to mildly marinate the raw Meats/Seafood just to have added flavors but not too strong as to nullify the natural flavors or sweetness of the Meats/Seafood.

 Sorry, no shots..😁.  Salt, Sugar, White Pepper, Oyster sauce, Sesame oil and Shaoxing wine.

 A vigorously whisked Egg – give the Ingredients a little smoothness.

*** Note : Just a dash of everything, if U prefer a stronger intensity of an ingredient flavor, simply add a little extra of that ingredient/spice/sauce – no rocket scientific measurement here. Always taste your Seasoning !!!


MethoD


STEP 1 :

Start by dumping all the Soup Ingredients into a Slow-cooker. Set to High mode and let slow boil for abt 2 hrs or till everything kinda break-up and soften. Prepare extra – U can alway fridge for other cooking.

Hint : Start with boiling water – this way, U will save heaps of time.


 When the Soup is done, sieve it and U should get a Pot of clear/clean Soup – this will be ur Soup base. Lightly season with a pinch of Salt, Sugar and White Pepper. Set aside.






STEP 2 :
 Mildly marinate all the Raw Meats/Seafood with the Marinate Ingredients for a couple of hrs. Just a dash of everything. Sliced Grouper.


 Sliced Chicken.




 Prawns.




STEP 3 : Couple of Etiquettes/Rules and Tips

 With everything prepared and ready to go, place the HotPot in the middle of the dining table – set the heat on and let the Soup base get a head-start into boiling. It is also a good idea to have extra hot Soup base, ready to be added into the HotPot as the Soup base will evaporate with the cooking.

 Arrange all the Condiments/Ingredients around the HotPot. This way, everyone can have an easy reach to the HotPot. The picture here shows all Ingredients arranged on one side of the HotPot, this was done purposely for the convenient of taking this picture..😉.

 With the Soup base boiling, start adding the Condiments/Ingredients. Starts with bigger items tat takes a little longer to cook or needs to be properly cooked thru, like Prawn, Crab or Lobster. Then follow with the smaller items – this way, U’ll not end up with overcook or undone food.

It is always a good idea to start the first round of cooking by adding a bit of everything and then scope out to the communal plate for everyone to share – making sure all the salivating dinners are satisfied from the word ‘Go’..😄. After that, individual cooking (the dipping and bobbing) can begin at one’s own pace. Btw,  pls DO NOT swish/swirl your personal eating Chopstick in the broth looking for food (obviously, for hygenic reason – not to mention the absolute grossness of the action) – use the Perforated Ladle instead !!! The VianD like to call this maneuver “Chopstick Washing”  😂).

Couple of things to remember. If U are having Egg or Noodle,  add them only at the tail-end of the meal. This is bcos, these Ingredients will cloud up and even thicken a perfect pot of Soup – plus, Noodles will fill U up pretty quickly (U certainly do not want to stare at all the goodies on the table with a tummy full of Carbo, do U ? 😂).

 Now, let’s see..wat else ? Ooooo.., with all the Etiquettes/Rules being said and done – at the end of the day, everyone must be comfortable !  A HotPot meal is all about family and friends getting together, cooking, eating, talking, and enjoying each other’s company over a big pot of heart-warming food, so do whatever makes you comfortable.


EnD
Copyright © 2014 The VianD · All Rights Reserved

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