Posted by: mikeydude | January 5, 2010

Steamboat aka Chinese Hotpot / Fondue

Hitting the Beano!

There are a few names for this style of oriental dining; the one I’m most familiar with is “Da Beano” (Cantonese slang) but I have yet to find out where this name originates from (?!). Anyway during the winter freeze I had some soup left over and the Mrs fancied seafood, and so we opted to have this chinese fondu for dinner! Here’s what we had…

My in-laws bought us a electric powered steamboat machine from Singapore and it’s the perfect size for dinner parties or just the 2 of us (as in this case)!

It’s basically a continuously heated soup that you dip raw meat/fish into to cook to your own liking. Obviously you have to be careful here with regards to hygiene as you are mixing raw with cooked. It’s therefore better to allocate a minimal number of ‘dippers’ so that you are minimising contact with raw food. It’s also wise to use a separate pair of chopsticks for the raw meat! Common sense at the end of the day really.

Anyway there’s only 1 decent fishmonger in Cardiff right in Cardiff Central Market itself called Ashtons. Unfortunately I have a grudge with them as they have obnoxious arrogant staff and so I refuse to buy from there. That leaves me with Morrisons as second best (sigh). Here’s what was prepared…

Carbs: Mee Fun (chinese vermicelli – precooked, drained and rinsed to rid surface starch)

Veg: Chinese Leaf and Enoki Mushrooms (bought from chinese supermarket)

Speaking of chinese supermarkets there are a few in Cardiff. For bulk purchases there’s wholesalers BA and Global both located around the Penarth Road area. We seldom go there. Otherwise the supermarkets are located on Tudor St (Cardiff’s China Town haha), and Woodville Road (Korean/Japanese supermarket). Tudor St is cheaper. I love enoki mushrooms. They’re a Japanese mushroom that is commonly used in hotpot. Not cheap unfortunately.

Meat: Mrs’ Home made minced pork balls and Fish Balls with Octopus

These pork balls are made by mixing lean minced pork, fish and sesame sauce, diced dried shitake mushroom, diced salty veg, and bound together with cornflour. The fishballs (smaller ones in picture) were bought from the supermarket (pre-deepfried with octopus meat as well).

Fish: Seabass Fillet, Scallops, and Peeled Prawns

All bought from Morrisons. They seem to have the freshest seafood amongst all the supermarkets I find. Definitely better than tesco and asda that’s for sure. They’re not cheap; I think the seabass fillets were nearly £2 each, around £3 for 5 scallops, and £2 for that pack of prawns. I simply sliced the seabass fillets into thin strips to dipping later.

White Yam Paste

I think the Mrs bought this from London a few weeks ago. Apparently it’s commonly used in South East Asia and Japan in hotpots so we decided to give it a try. Sold as cubes so I just sliced them into strips.

As I mentioned earlier, the soup was leftovers from yesterday. I made it by boiling pork ribs, chinese melon (forget the name), dried scallops, celery, and salt for around 4 hours. All the edible parts of the soup were consumed the night before with rice (delicious). When we ran out of this soup we simply added boiled water and added instant Tom Yum (Thai spicy soup) paste and used that as the soup base instead.

Right onto the cooking. I didn’t capture everything as I was too busy eating!

The vegetables and mushrooms went in first as they can’t really be overcooked. This was followed shortly by the pork and fish balls as you want to make sure these are cooked through!

Only once you’re happy the pork balls are pretty much cooked then you can start adding ingredients that require less cooking i.e. the seafood.

The pork balls were delicious – the firm meat mixed with the crunchy salty vegetables and dried shitake mushroom. However if time permits, I would prefer wantons instead.

The fish balls were quite nice as well, although the meat does taste rather processed!

The enoki mushrooms are exactly how I remember them. Smooth strands of mushroom with small heads carry a very distinct but difficult to describe ‘mushroomey’ flavour and texture. Mild compared to shitake.

Not sure what to make of these yam paste slices. A semi chewy texture with no real flavour which required dipping in soy sauce. Don’t think I’ll buy this again unless I can find an alternative use.

I forgot to shoot the seafood, but I can still comment. The scallops weren’t really that sweet but still pleasant to eat. The prawns were delicious provided we didn’t overcook them (one or two got lost in the soup somewhere and so texture wise like rubber when we finally managed to find them!). The fish was also quite nice, although once more I must emphasise that farmed can never matched sea-caught in terms of flavour.

So a very nice meal indeed and I was totally stuffed by the end of it. Obviously if we had access to better seafood in Cardiff then the experience would be uplifted dramatically. Nevertheless I had a great evening with the Mrs eating seafood and drinking my cheap Martini Asti 😀


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