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….
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!
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….
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!
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 😛
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!
Have a great weekend!