One of MalaysiaBest.net reader asked me ‘What’s for reunion dinner?’. To be frank, I don’t emphasise much on reunion dinner as my children are small and both my parents and parents-in-law had passed away several years ago. Moreover, nowadays I don’t cook a feast for the ancestors offerings.
However, I do make it a point to eat something different on the eve before the Chinese New Year. Sometimes we cook, sometimes we eat buffet dinner followed by a night mass in Mandarin/English at my church.
Nevertheless, I love steamboat eventhough it seems so ordinary and almost every Chinese home have them. Steamboat is also not very ideal for our hot weather, unlike in China or Hongkong where they are experiencing the coldest weather of the year.
Reasons steamboat is a good idea:
1) Your parents (moms) do not have to toil over the stove to cook anything elaborate;
2) It is fun to wear only singlets and shorts for a meal;
3) Usually, not all family members can fit into one table (this is a blessings more than anything as it signifies a lot of family members) so having steamboat means a more flexible way of eating;
4) Steamboat is healthier as not much oil is involved;
5) Whatever leftovers can be stored for cooking up other dishes on the next day;
6) Budget for steamboats is flexible, you can splurge on expensive seafoods or just make-do with cheaper varieties;
7) Everyone has to eat at the same time, hence, the family togetherness;
8) Everyone get to choose what they want to eat;
9) No gadget involve, just use a rice-cooker or a pot over a gas stove if you do not have a proper steamboat;
10) Steamboat means Chinese New Year. Period.
Basic stuffs for steamboat:
Make the soup beforehand. Just boil some white Chinese cabbage (those long type) with some bones. Flavour with garlic, pepper and just a little salt.
Lots of vegetables
Tofu and anything make from soya
Seafoods (including fishballs etc)
Just get yourself a small bottle of tomyam paste in chili oil. Found in supermarkets under brands like Tae Pee (best choice), Ferry, White Pigeon or Singlong. Add them to the soup.
To make the tomyam soup kick-ass, add these:
Kaffir lime leaves and lime juices.
Ginger flower (bunga kantan), lemongrass and coriander leaves. The above shows the coriander leaves from Thailand (?) which is way different from the other type found commonly. Called ‘kharn sai’ in Cantonese or guan sui in Hokkien. Use the whole plant of the coriander, including the roots. Clean well so there are not earth!
Lots of bird’s eye chillies
What’s tomyam without prawn, right? However, prices of prawns have skyrocketted these few weeks and it is not easy to find fresh prawns in the market. (the above were from my Christmas party photos)
Mushrooms! They are so delicious and flexible. Can be used in any type of soup and they are pretty too. Canned ones are good choices too.
A general ‘order’ of having steamboat is to cook all the meats and seafoods with some vege. Towards the end when the soup are full of flavour, add noodles and knock in some eggs. Yummy! Don’t forget the chili sauce and garlic oil too.
I hope the above steamboat ideas work with your reunion dinner.
More complete recipe can be found from my older blog.