Sunday, June 28, 2009

Home winter feasting

We're about a third into winter and I'm already at wit's end trying to find ways to keep my fingers from freezing and snapping off. Sitting on them has been most effective, yet not so very efficient for a majority of other daily and necessary activity.

So it's hooray for steamboat at home. In the absence of a fireplace at home, the next best thing is huddling around a steaming pot of soup, dunking in various raw ingredients and fishing them out for immediate consumption with soy and chilli sauce.

Plate setting for home steamboating

I think we're a little unconventional with the plates and forks but it works for us - peeling prawns and chopsticks don't really go. We never seem to learn that a little of this and a little of that always ends up being way too much all together - the whole is definitely greater than the sum of all parts. So here's a quick run through of our steamboat items:

Silken tofu

This tofu comes packaged as a plastic tube; hence the perfectly round shapes. It's nice and firm so as to withstand poking, swishing, other ingredients and our 'fishing' baskets.

Thinly shaved chicken breast and beef

These packets of chicken and beef were bought pre-sliced and frozen from grocers in Ashfield. They're great for convenience and ease of cooking but they lack fresh texture and flavour. The cut of the beef is also highly fatty and suspiciously chewy.

Raw school prawns

My favourite steamboat item has to be prawns. Nothing beats a just-cooked prawn dipped in soy. It's a sweet crunchy reward after burning your fingers trying to peel the thing seconds out of the boiling stock. But someone's got to do it.

Shanghai wonton wrappers filled with fish cake

There isn't really a set technique in our household for wrapping wonton. There's always a debate about speed versus presentation; however the latter seems to matter little once the dumpling is boiled. This time we've filled the white Shanghai wonton wrappers with a store-bought fresh fish cake mixture and shallots.

Button mushrooms and vermicelli

There's always a significant vegetable proportion to our steamboating - here some button mushrooms (they don't have enoki at our local grocer) and soaked vermicelli, but not seen is blanched snow peas and a whole head of lettuce.

Steamboating: normal broth and a spicy version (right)

And so we begin, patiently waiting for the stock to come to the boil so that we may plunge our ingredients of choice into a normal or spicy stock, conveniently divided in the steamboat vessel. This was the last photo of the night - I had some boiling hot prawns to peel and a stomach to stuff.

P.S. Much excitement for tomorrow night's premiere of Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno at the State Theatre in Sydney! I wonder if he'll confront Sydney winter in that spanking yellow lederhosen?


Betty said...

Oh yes, love steamboat in winter! At least peeling the boiling hot prawns defrosts your fingers a little ;) Cannot wait for bruno!

Simon said...

It's always interesting to see what assortment of ingredients people have on offer with their setup of steamboat.

Did you make your own stocks for this?

CORA said...

I LOVE doing steamboat i.e. hotpot at home! Yours looks so comprehensive. They are just THE BEST for Winter nights.

Tina said...

Hi Betty - Freezing/burning - you can't win... Bruno was hilarious on Rove tonight :D

Hi Simon - Even in our own household we have variations every time! The stock is homemade; the spicy one just with a chilli bean paste addition.

Hi Cora - Nothing beats steamboat/hotpot in winter. Not even toasted marshmallows!

Mr. Taste said...

Yay hotpot! Ms Taste and I go crazy on the frozen sliced lamb which is slightly less chewy and less weird than the frozen beef.

We always use crazy packet msg filled sichuan chilli paste for the chilli side. I think some brands are like literally 10000% daily sodium intake though - that has to be illegal or something.

Tina said...

Hi Mr. Taste - I've never tried lamb... sounds good. Isn't that MSG stuff terrible but secretly so easy and tasty?!


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