Wednesday, February 27, 2008

STEAMBOAT


This is our Chap Goh Mei (15th. and last day of Chinese New Year) Dinner - the easy way out; not much food preparation involved, and the cooking is a communal effort. It's one of those dishes that cooking skill is not required; even if you screw up on the soup in the first instance, the eventual outcome of the final soup flavor tastes great because of all the subsequent ingredients that are dumped into the broth during the course of the meal.

The ingredients used can consist of meat (chicken, beef , lamb, pork), seafood (fish, shrimp, calamari, crab), vegetables and noodle; it can be as frugal or as rich as you want to make it to be. The ingredients are mostly raw or pre-cooked. I had a strip of pork fillet (thinly sliced), pork kidney and promfret fish (deboned and bite-size cut). The vegetables consisted of Kangkong, Chinese cabbage, tofu and fresh mushrooms. The other stuffs are seafood-made dim-summy nuggets plus meatballs, brought to Sibu by Taiwanese fishing trawlers.

The only preparation I had was the soup (watercress in pork bones soup), slicing of pork, fish and kidneys, and the vegetables and tofu. Plain sailing! Then it's waiting for the soup to boil before cooking begins - starting with the raw ingredients and stuff that takes longest time to cook, and ending with stuff that needs only blanching. Normally whatever is cooked is eaten with dips (varies from raw egg to simple sliced chillies with soy sauce [plus garlic]), and lastly the rich soup is savored with noodle.


While waiting, there are the hor’dourves... Taiwanese sausages and home-made Ngo Hiang (meat rolls).

For the steamboat... Pork fillet slices with kidney, and varieties of fish-paste rolls and crab balls...

... Taiwanese Kong Yen (crunchy on the outside, tender inside meatballs), and tofu and fish slices...

... Kangkong and Chinese cabbage, and mushrooms....

... the utensils -coriander scoops and mini ladles... putting in the raw meat into the boiling soup...

... then the pre-cooked stufff...

... vegetables... wait for the soup to come to a boil again...scoop...

... ladle... and finally the Thai inspired dipping sauce... the perfect accompaniment.

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As the name implies, it's all about nothing! Kongkaying is like grasping in the air - more like hot air with occasional fartulence. Hopefully, something aromatic will come out of it! If not...

May the Farce be With You!

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