have you ever had this nagging feeling of what to cook whenever a festive season is around the corner? what mood do i want to create? i want it to be different but not too overwhelming for my guests....who am i inviting? what is the occasion? are they adults or children? big eaters or mousy eaters? well there is room for everyone... read on.

Friday, October 13, 2006

My Healthy Diet Day 1 - Steamboat Dinners

A home-styled steamboat setting.

Sometime last month I planned a 2 week steamboat getaway for my family. We practically had steamboat every night for dinner but with a variety of fresh healthy food and stock. I guess, it's my way of getting the whole family to detox happily. Rule number 1 on my list of healthy food is "NO Processed Food", rule number 2 is "NO MSG" and rule number 3 is "NO red meat".

As for Day 1, I had lots of fresh chinese celery, asian lettuce, tong hoe (garland chrysanthemum) and carrots.

Chinese celery - is the one pictured above left, it had a distinctive aroma and it's rich in both vitamins and minerals. In some studies, it helps lower blood pressure, acts as a duretic and urinary antiseptic. Widely used in salads and stir fries and garnishes the ever popular Thai Tom Yum Soup and the Malaysian Sup Kambing (Goat soup). In some instances, it is also used as a replacement garnishing in the absence of coriander leaves.

Asian lettuce - is the vegetable pictured above right, it's high on beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin C. The softness of the large tender leaves are useful as wrappers for minced meat dishes, ju hu char (for recipe, check under categories, main meals section) and spring rolls.

Tong hoe (Garland Chrysanthemum) - pictured above the sliced carrots. This is one vegetable I cannot do without when I eat steamboat. I just love the pungent smell, a very popular vegetable among the Chinese and Japanese apparently. The leaves are sold in bunches with roots still attached. The roots harbours a lot of earth, so an important tip is to wash the leaves thoroughly under running water. It is rich in vitamins A and B. This is the only way I eat this vegetable.

Carrots - I am pretty confident all of you know this root vegetable even blind-folded, so I will not elaborate.

The only meat for tonight is sliced (sek pan) fish. Has to be a fairly large fish in order to fillet it and slice it thinly for steamboat. Approximately 300 gms per person. Marinated with light soya sauce, white pepper, plenty of julienne ginger, a few drops of sesame oil, 1 Tbsp of garlic oil, sea salt and don't forget a few strong dashes of Shao Hsing fragrant rice wine (absolute must!). Leave fish cling wrapped in a bowl in the fridge until ready to eat.

These are lovely round tofu aka (Tofu Bomb). They are soft and very light, just perfect for steamboat. I got them from my neighbourhood grocer and I estimated 2 round tofu per person.

No steamboat is complete without a bowl of chopped chili in light soya sauce and some pre-made garlic oil. There will be a fresh bowl of chopped chili and garlic oil for every steamboat dinner, just in case I fail to mention later.

Garlic oil - heat a saucepan with grapseed oil. When hot, put in chopped garlic, stir continuously. Garlic burns very quickly. The minute the chopped garlic turns slightly golden brown, take the saucepan off the heat and pour into a heatproof glass bowl to cool. Do not cover with lid until garlic oil completely cool. This is used to flavour the stock before putting in the uncooked ingredients. Just 1 to 2 Tbsp will do just fine.

Chicken stock - for today's steamboat stock, I used chicken stock. 1 whole skinless chicken breast chopped into 4 pieces. Bring 2 litres of filtered water to boil. Put in 4 cloves garlic (whole, with skin) and 1 piece of old ginger (smashed with the back of the knife). When water is boiling, put in the chicken breast and quick simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour. This is my favourite stock, so I used it quite often in my steamboat dinners. When cool, drain stock through a sieve before placing into the steamboat pot, discard chicken breast, garlic and ginger.


  • audrey, yummy steamboat! I love the tofu balls,think i can eat all of them... :P

    Oh yea i agree, steamboat wouldn't b complete with a gd chilli sauce. :)

  • wow that looks like a spread! but i really cant live on just veggies alone. i will die :p

    ya the tofu bomb looks good. i tried that in a vegetarian stall b4, but i don't think they sell it in supermarkets.

  • Looks like you are having a "Hu Loh" (Fish Steamboat). Have you tried out Starview Fish Steamboat in Penang? It's on Burmah Road.

  • After soaking in the beauty ( when can taste ?) of all your fresh healthy green things here don't think I want to go backstreet in the next 2 weeks to look for my regular 'ultrapower' loads !

  • Gracio, yes, chopped chili is a must.

    Evan, actually tofu bomb is not easily found. Thankfully I can get it at my neighbourhood's grocer.

    RM, Ho Loh! haven't tried the one at Starview before. It has been ages since i got a chance to eat the whole Penang island. It is kinda difficult to go a lot of yummy places with my little 3 year old.

    Tonixe, Do follow closely to my recipes, u will be able to churn out the same goodies! of course with a little hard work lor!


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I'm Audrey from Somewhere in my kitchen, Malaysia.

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