Steamboat Recipes

Kylie Kwong’s Steamboat

A traditional Chinese steamboat, where diners choose from an array of raw and marinated ingredients to dip into simmering stock, is a brilliant example of the art of interaction, of sharing and socialising. Imagine your friends sitting around a ferociously steaming wok: their eyes will be treated to a vista of the freshest, most colourful food; their noses will be tantalised by the aromas of the most fragrant herbs; and their tastebuds will be rapt with the variety of tastes and textures.

Because the meat is only lightly cooked, it is definitely preferable to use organic meats for a steamboat ̵ the flavour will be so much better. Suitable fish include blue eye, snapper, halibut and sea bass. Salted radish and pickled mustard greens, which you’ll need for the dipping sauces, are available at Asian supermarkets, as are salted duck eggs.

Serves: as a main meal for 6
Serve with: steamed rice. Also: Sichuan pepper and salt; braised dried Chinese mushrooms; and Sichuan pepper and salt

Ingredients

  • 700 g (1 lb 6 oz) small whole squid
  • 300 g (10 oz) organic pork fillet, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 300 g (10 oz) organic chicken fillet, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 300 g (10 oz) organic beef fillet, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 400 g (13 oz) white fish fillets, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 12 uncooked king prawns (jumbo shrimp), peeled and deveined but with tails intact

Squid marinade

  • 2 large red chillies, halved lengthways, deseeded and roughly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 11/2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ginger julienne
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Garlic and ginger paste

  • 10 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

 Pork marinade

  • 2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing wine
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
  • dash of sesame oil

Chicken marinade

  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing wine
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • dash of sesame oil

Beef marinade

  • 2 tablespoons Chinese BBQ sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing wine
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper and salt
  • dash of sesame oil

Fish marinade

  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced coriander stalks and roots
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

Prawn marinade

  • 1 tablespoon finely diced lemongrass
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced spring onions (scallions)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger julienne
  • 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing wine
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • dash of sesame oil
  • 1 fresh bamboo shoot — about 750 g (11/2 lb)
  • 18 live mussels — about 350 g (11 oz) in total
  • 12 live sea scallops
  • 1 bunch choy sum
  • 1 bunch green asparagus
  • 1 Chinese white cabbage
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1/3 bunch mint
  • 1/3 bunch sweet Thai basil
  • 1/3 bunch coriander
  • 1/3 bunch Vietnamese mint
  • 300 g (10 oz) fresh Hokkien noodles
  • 2 salted duck eggs
  • 3/4 cup fresh black cloud ear fungus
  • 75 g (21/2 oz) fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded
  • 6 braised dried Chinese mushrooms

Stock

  • 3 litres (3 quarts) water
  • 4 spring onions (scallions), trimmed and cut in half crossways
  • 10 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 20 slices ginger
  • 60 g (2 oz) galangal, peeled and sliced
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, bruised
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt

Dipping sauces

  • combine 3 tablespoons oyster sauce with 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • combine 2 tablespoons of each of hoisin sauce, Chinese black vinegar and Chinese BBQ sauce
  • combine equal quantities of finely sliced salted radish and pickled mustard greens
  • combine 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce with 2 teaspoons light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon diced ginger and a dash of sesame oil

Condiments

  • light soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • Chinese mixed pickles
  • finely sliced large red chillies
  • lemon wedges
  • Sichuan pepper and salt

Method

Clean squid by gently pulling head and tentacles away from the body. Pull out the clear backbone (quill) from inside the body and discard entrails. Cut tentacles from the head just below the eyes; discard head. Remove side wings and fine membrane from the body. Rinse body, tentacles and wings thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Cut the squid down the centre so that it will open out flat. Using a small, sharp knife, score shallow diagonal cuts in a criss-cross pattern on the inside surface. Cut scored squid into 5 x 2.5 cm (2 x 1 in) pieces and place in a bowl.

For the squid marinade, pound chilli and salt into a rough paste with a pestle and mortar. Add palm sugar, pound lightly, then stir in fish sauce, ginger and lime juice. Add marinade to the squid in the bowl.

Place pork, chicken, beef, fish and prawns in separate bowls, then set aside while you prepare the garlic and ginger paste.

Pound garlic, ginger and salt together with a pestle and mortar until you have a rough paste. Divide this paste between the pork, chicken and beef.

Add the five lots of marinade ingredients for the pork, chicken, beef, fish and prawns to their respective bowls. Thoroughly mix the contents of each bowl, then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

To prepare the bamboo, cut the horn-shaped shoot in half lengthways, strip off the outer fibrous layers and then trim about 2 cm (1 in) off the base. Cut into 5 mm (1/4 in) wide strips, add to a pan of cold salted water and then boil rapidly for at least 10 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Repeat this process of boiling from a cold-water start, draining and refreshing twice more to remove any bitterness. Set aside. (Any leftover bamboo can be placed in cold water and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days — it makes a delicious addition to stir-fries and braises.)

Scrub, debeard, rinse and drain the mussels; set aside.

Clean the scallops, leaving them attached to their shells.

Trim ends from the choy sum, then cut crossways into 3 pieces and wash thoroughly; drain. Wash the asparagus and snap off the woody ends, then peel the lower part of the stem and cut into thirds on the diagonal. Discard outer leaves of cabbage, then slice cabbage in half lengthways, remove core and cut crossways into about 4 pieces and wash thoroughly, pulling pieces apart to separate leaves. Wash bean sprouts and all the herbs thoroughly; drain well. Pick sprigs from the herbs.

Blanch Hokkien noodles in boiling salted water until ‘al dente’ — about 4 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, then thoroughly drain again.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add salted duck eggs and boil for 9 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, then peel and cut into quarters.

Arrange bamboo, mussels, scallops, choy sum, asparagus, cabbage, bean sprouts, herbs, noodles, eggs and mushrooms in simple serving bowls. Place these on the table, along with the bowls of marinated meats and seafood.

About an hour before your guests are due to arrive, make the stock. Place the water in a large electric wok — about 35 cm (14 in) in diameter. Add all remaining stock ingredients and bring to the boil, simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and set aside.

Finally, arrange all the dipping sauces and condiments in small bowls on the table, allowing two bowls of each.

When everyone is ready to sit down and eat, place the electric wok in the centre of the table. Reheat stock and invite your guests to choose their own meat, fish and vegetables to cook in the simmering stock, before dipping them in their favourite sauces and condiments. Towards the end of the meal — generally a long and raucous affair — the noodles are added to the rich, full-flavoured stock and slurped.

Enjoy!

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