Asian · Belgium · Chinese New Year · Family · Feel-Good · Food · Greetings · Main Course · Malaysian · Meat · Nostalgia · Poultry · Savoury · Shellfish · Short Story · Soup · South East Asian

Steamboat in the heart of Flanders

Okay, so technically, spring has begun, but with the blizzards, heavy snow, low temperatures and cold weather of late has made my brain go haywire.

Where are the snowdrops and daffodils? Where are the birds chirping in the trees? For God’s sake, I’m still wearing my winter clothing….. in spring!

I read in our local newspaper that large parts of Europe and North America are experiencing these extraordinary cold climes due to the dramatic melting of the Arctic sea ice.  While it’s getting “warmer” in the Arctic, we are experiencing “Ice Age”!! That, is the symptom of global warming, with the icy cold air blowing from the Arctic to the south.

Scrat is cute, however, I am not dreaming to be an obsessive acorn collector for the rest of my life. LOL!

Dreaming of warmth

A month or two ago, my brother who lives in Canada went ice fishing with his family.  So cool!  I would love to try my hands being an ice angler, sitting on the stool in a heated cabin and catch my day 😉

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Following are pictures of my sister-in-law and my nephews with their perches and whitefish….

1a. Ice fishing_Gull Lake_the boys1b. Ice fishing_cozy cabin

1c. Ice fishing_Kiaw + boys1d.Ice fishing_Ian and his catch

OMG! You wouldn’t believe how much I miss eating fresh fish! To be precise, I miss eating a good plate of “umai” (raw fish salad – the way it’s done in Mukah, a tiny fishing village in Sarawak!). I hope my sisters in Kuching are hearing me loud and clear. That’s one of my eat list in my next trip, Sis 😉

The fish has got to be fresh, super fresh and cut into thin slices or small pieces. Add some chopped bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced turmeric leaf (daun kunyit), chopped lemon grass, shallots, fresh ginger juice, calamansi juice or lime juice, and salt to taste. Finally, garnish with roasted sago and fresh coriander.  Mmmmm…YUMMY!

So, we don’t have super fresh fish where I live now, but my craving of fish was immense.  I cheated. I bought a bag of frozen tilapia, thawed the fish and transformed them into fish balls. LOL!

2a. Fish balls_tilapia

I was dreaming of a good glug of warm soup!  That’s right. Steamboat (Chinese fondue or Hot Pot)! Chris, if you’re reading this, the post is late, as usual 🙂  This was meant to be posted on the weekend we got back from Rome, the same weekend you had your steamboat as well!  How telepathic.  Ha ha ha!

The Hub of the All-In-One

A Steamboat meal is one of the easiest to prepare.  It’s a great way to break the ice. Did I just say, “ice”?

The only tedious process is the mise en place or prep work of cutting, chopping and slicing the components that go in the hot pot, i.e., meat, fish and vegetables.

Some of the ingredients are pre-cooked, but most meat, seafood and vegetables are raw.  The Steamboat does the cooking for you.  Just throw in the uncooked or raw ingredients and switch the steamboat on high.  The broth will bubble and cook the uncooked and make the soup a lot tastier with the amalgamation of natural bursting flavors from the meat and seafood.  Sheer delight!

My pre-cooked components were the homemade fish balls, homemade chicken meat balls, quail eggs and rice vermicelli.  My raw items were chicken breast meat, beef, prawns, button mushrooms, broccoli and carrots.  There are no hard and fast rules to the ingredients for a homemade Steamboat. The only rule is your creativity and let your imagination run wild with you, but of course the lavish ones would include abalone, lobster, wonton, crab balls, yong tau foo….  The list goes on and on….

3a. Steamboat_fish + chix balls, vermicelli and veg3b. Steamboat_condiments

3c.Steamboat_quali eggs, mushrooms, spring onions + chilli sauce

Steamboat_table 2013

The Hot Pot or the Steamboat is the hub or the centerpiece on the dinner table, usually on the eve of the Chinese New Year.  I am so pleased with my almost 18-year old Hanabishi Steamboat. This was one of the gifts I got from my eldest sister when I moved to Belgium in the autumn of 1995.  At that time, I did not see the importance of the gift (sorry, Sis), which had been stashed away in a cupboard for some years.  My cooking skill then was at sub-zero level.  That’s correct. A Steamboat meal requires almost no cooking and that’s how bad I was.  Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! 😦

Big Sis, I thank YOU from the bottom of my heart for the gift.  I can tell you that the Steamboat has been sailing on every cold journey in Flanders.  It’s the warmest gift ever. Kam Sia!

4a. Steamboat_holy grail4b. Steamboat_centrepiece


Spice Up

Since my Hot Pot does not have a divider, I made a non-spicy but flavorsome home-brewed soup base. All you need is plenty of water. I used 5 to 6 litres of water. Throw in the roots of fresh coriander, star anise, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, an onion pricked with some cloves, some black peppercorns, a large carrot, ginger and a small to medium sized daikon.  Season the soup base with salt and pepper and chicken stock cube to taste. I brewed the soup base until it was cooked and used this same soup base to boil my homemade fish and chicken meat balls, which made the soup base even tastier.

Because I chose for a non-spicy soup base version, I made some chilli sauce to go with the soup. It was spicily fantastic that fired up the ears and brains of my three guys. LOL!

All you need is the Mae Pranom Shrimp Flavour Crushed Chilli (or bird’s eye chillies), chopped coriander leaves including the stems, kaffir lime leaves, lime or lemon juice, minced lemongrass, Shaohsing rice wine, light soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and salt to taste.  This has been my no-fail chilli sauce.  It really spiced up my bowl of steamboat soup. I was in 7th Heaven 😛

5a. Steamboat_bowl of soup + chilli sauce

It may look like an under-nourished meal, but trust me, after two rounds we were stuffed!

The Day After

There were plenty of leftovers of the uncooked components. It was too much for the four of us.  The next day, I transformed the leftovers to an appetizing plate of quick stir-fry.  Nothing went to waste at all

By the way, here’s our day after meal. Simply Ho Chiak!

6a. Steamboat_leftovers transformation16b. Steamboat_leftovers transformation2

Have a great weekend!


Related Posts:-

What I miss about the Chinese New Year while growing up in Kuching…

Belgium calling Malaysia and Canada. Hello…?

Happy Belated Birthday Mum and Grandaunt – A Canadian Birthday Bash

14 thoughts on “Steamboat in the heart of Flanders

  1. Isadora!

    Happy Belated Easter! I miss you! 😀 The weather here has been up and down with the winter lingering on. When is it going to turn warm and stay warm? I miss eating umai too and fresh seafood…no way am I going to risk making umai with the fish that are avilable here. Love the steamboat! Such a fun thing to do but so much prep…I always tend to go overboard as well with plenty of leftovers but like you said, nothing goes to waste. 😀 Hope to see you around.


  2. Hi Sophia

    Thanks! It was a mouth-watering meal, indeed 🙂 Great to read you again! Hope all’s well with you, Harry and the little princess 🙂
    Hope to meet up one day…

  3. Hi Chris

    Happy Belated Easter to you, too!
    Sorry, I’ve not been around blogging for a while, as pressure at work was unfairly high 😦 Yes, I miss reading your posts and boy was I surprised to see that I was at least 10 posts behind!! LOL! You’ve been busy, I see. Ha ha ha. Well done, Chris for balancing work-life. I wish I have more time blogging. You can always count on me for being your loyal follower 😀

    You’re right. No way can we make umai with the fish we have here, unless, of course, we live near the coast. My sis read my post and noted down in her agenda re my next trip home. Yay!!

    PS I finally bought a kitchen robot, so no excuse in making that lovely Banana walnut cake of yours, right 🙂

    PPS I’ve used the Malaysian curry powder you gave me and it was fantastic. Used that in my slow cooked curry chix. Will blog abt that soon…

  4. Hello there! Thank you for your comment on my blog! I didn’t know why your comment has gone to the spam folder, luckily I was browsing through.
    Anyway, I am glad that you have a copy of my cookbook and love it. 🙂 Would be great to know what you think once you have tried a few recipes! 🙂
    It’s great to know another Malaysian living abroad. Thanks again for stopping by my blog as it brings me to yours ;)!

  5. Hi Leemei,
    Good to read you here. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
    I’m not sure why, but I think there’s a problem with the Yahoo acct…

    Yup, your cookbook is snugged between Rick Stein, Nigella Lawson, Delia Smith, James Wong, Antonio Carluccio, and several others 😀
    Will definitely try out your recipes, which I have a few in mind already. These will be blogged as soon as I get there 😉

    You have such a colourful and interesting background – growing up in Malaysia, studied in Australia, residing in the UK and got hitched to a French! Wow!!
    Hope to read you again soon. Will check out your blog now and then – have already subscribed 😉

  6. Hi,

    Nice to know you via blogging. Thanks for dropping by my blog and sorry for my late visit as I was away for some personal reasons.

    Are you related to Chris? Chris and you seems to be close and have quite a few similarities. Like you, I’m living away from “home” or maybe found a second “home”… Nice that the nice and delicious steamboat is giving you lots of warmth for the approaching Spring. We are getting lots of chills now in Australia… *sign*


  7. Hi Zoe
    Ditto! Nice to read you.

    Funny you asked. Yes, Chris and I seemed to have a few similarities 🙂 I guess we are birds of the same feather…. Ha ha ha!
    And it was via Chris, that brought me to your blog! You’ll hear from me again, definitely 😉

    Ah, of course, the Southern Hemisphere’s winter is the summer we have here in Europe. Spring is back, finally. Just heard the birds chirping and we’re promised a sunny 20 deg C this Sunday. Yay!

    Hope to ‘see’ you again 🙂


  8. I figured it was probably work that kept you from blogging…hope it’s tapering down a bit. I had been fairly busy with blogging but am slowing down myself. It IS hard to juggle life and blogging…and homeschooling Alex takes up a huge chunk of my day. When I was trying to blog more regularly, I find myself to be super-stressed…with no time for anything else other than the necessities…not the kind of life I want…hence the slowing down. I do feel bad about not blogging as much (for what reason I’m not sure, lol) but I’ve decided that I’ll blog when I actually have the time to. I am, however, looking forward to your future posts. No pressure. ;D

  9. Yup, that’s correct. The pressure at work is the reason that kept me from blogging. I love my work as much as I love blogging, but I’m trying to cut a line somewhere, and hoping that the line remains firm 😀

    I can understand why you feel bad about not blogging. Same here. I guess it’s because we are connected to our readers and fellow bloggers. They are a part of us as much as we are a part of them. We owe them a story, a greetng, anything. That’s the beauty of blogging. Let’s continue to support one another, k?

    Alex? Homeschooling? Very interesting indeed. Is this common in the States?
    Enjoy the rest of the week, Chris

  10. Definitely…on the support part. 😀 Homeschooling is obviously not as common as public education over here but common enough that there are a lot of homeschooling groups if a family is interested in joining one. We’re not currently part of any homeschooling group at the moment (so I’ve been doing it by myself for the past few years) although I am considering joining one for the next school year, we’ll see.

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