It’s all about the details for the second part of the steamboat how-to.

What to add into the broth (which I called the side dishes) is totally up to you. I’m not aware of any rules on what you can or cannot add into the broth.  The usual ingredients are thin slices of meat (i.e. chicken, pork and *beef), fishballs, meatballs, firm or silken tofu, seafood (i.e. slices of fish, prawns etc.), chinese vegetables and fresh noodles (i.e. hokkien noodles, rice stick noodles or  mung bean threads).

As for me, I like to keep it simple. I’m not keen on mixing seafood and meat in the broth. This steamboat which I have made was a chicken one so you won’t be seeing fishballs or seafood around here. Also, if you are new to steamboat and wish to give it a shot, this one will be a good start. This is because I try to use ingredients that are fairly accessible. The following is a breakdown of my side dishes:-

* beef – you can get pre-sliced paper thin beef slices which are meant for steamboat from the Asian supermarkets. If you want to add beef, it’s better if you slice as thinly as possible yourself rather than buying the stir-fry version from the supermarket chain as the latter is still to “chunky” for steamboat. And that’s my opinion.

Process #3 – Preparing the side dishes

  1. A bunch of choi sum (the green leafy vegetables) and a half of Chinese cabbage (akak Chinese Wombok) – wash and cut into sections.
  2. A pre-package enoki mushrooms (trim the ends) and silken tofu (drain & slice in large cubes) – available in Woolworths and sometimes Harris Farm Market.
  3. A pre-package oyster mushrooms (slice the bigger pieces in half) – available in Woolworths.
  4. Homemade chicken meatballs, used some of the minced chicken as fillings for fried tofu puffs (available in Harris Farm Market, in the fridge section where the yoghurt is) and bullhorn chilli (also from Harris Farm) – see below for recipe and instructions. A large packet of mung bean threads/cellophane noodles (about 200g and available in Woolworths in the Asian food aisle).  Rehydrate the mung bean threads in cold water. Drain and set aside on a plate. If you decide to use rice stick noodles, rehydrate in cold water too. The texture for both noodles will be still a little hard but remember, we are going to cook the noodles further in the broth so if you rehydrate the noodles using boiling water, it will be overcooked by the time you let it simmer in the broth.

Process #4 – Make your own meatballs

What you’ll need:-

  • 1 kg minced chicken
  • About an 1.5 inches knob of ginger, peeled & grated (yielding 1 tsp of grated ginger)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled & grated
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce (Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 dashes of ground white pepper
  • 2 bullhorn chilli *optional
  • 1 packet of fried tofu puffs (The tofu puffs come in two sizes in Harris Farm. Pick the larger ones.) *optional*

Let’s get started:-

(1) Using your hand, mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl until pliable. As a variation to the plain meatballs, I’ve decided to fill the mince chicken in bullhorn chillies and tofu puffs. (2) To fill the bullhorn chillies – Use a small sharp knife, slice one side of the chilli in the centre and use the tip of the knife to remove the seeds. Then use a teaspoon, spoon the mince into the chilli. Pack the filling as much as you can and use your fingers to make sure the filling is well-adhere to the chilli. Then slice the chilli in 4-5 sections. (3) To fill the tofu puffs – use a small sharp knife, slice a tofu puff in half but not all the way (leave the bottom bit still attached). Then use the tip of the knife to remove the content to the tofu puff and fill it with the mince. Then use your finger to adhere the tofu with filling. Repeat steps with the remaining tofu puffs.

Process #5 – Make you own dipping sauce(s)

Out of the 3 sauces below, sauce no #1 is the most popular with my friends.  My personal favourite is #3 because I like a bit of sweetness in my food so hoisin sauce seems to fit the bill. My other friend taught me how to make peanut sauce (#2) and I made it just for her.

I made the sauces according to my taste. For the sauce #3, the hoisin sauce to peanut butter ratio is 2:1.

Before I end this mammoth post, I’d like to talk about the “rules” to eating steamboat.

So everyone gathers around the table waiting for the pot of soup to boil (I actually tranfered some of the broth to another pot which is a bit more shallow). When the broth is boiling, the ingredients (i.e. meat) which take the longest to cook should go in first followed by ingredients (vegetables, tofu & noodles) which require lesser time.

Also, everyone on the table should have the common understanding that once the ingredients are cooked and ready to serve, no raw ingredient should be added until all the cooked ingredients are been taken out for obvious reasons.

{You may notice I used a different burner from the last post. I ran out of gas in the first burner so I switched to another electric burner.}

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