Monthly Archives: June 2012

How to steamboat {Part 1 of 2}

Sorry if I have disappointed you but this is not a post on how to turn your date sexy and sweaty. I do try to keep my blog PG-13 rated you know. ;)

But for me I call it the Chinese fondue. For most people, chocolate fondue is the first thing that came to mind. But instead of the luscious decadent melted chocolate, you’ll get chicken broth; instead of the vibrant strawberries, banana bread and pillowy marshmallows, you’ll get the vibrant green of chinese vegetables, fish and meatballs and the pillowy tofu. Japanese called it shabu shabu, some Chinese call it a hot pot and for Malaysian Chinese, we call it steamboat.

FYI – despite its name, no boat is involved in this culinary experience (so there is no eating on the boat, under a boat or with a boat).

{The Setup – the table settings for steamboat. I like to section my vegetarian ingredients on one side and the meat stuff on the other. And the soup on top of a portable gas burner/electric burner in the middle.}

{Portions are for 4 people}

Process #1 – Make the broth because it requires time to allow the flavour from the chicken to infuse the broth.

What you’ll need for the broth are:-

  • 1 kg of chicken drumsticks (see Note 1)
  • A thumb sized fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 2 to 3 pieces
  • 2 kettle full of hot boiling water (see Note 2)
  • 2 dashes of ground white pepper

Note 1: Some people may prefer to use chicken carcasses. But I find chicken drumsticks will result in less scum in the soup plus there’s not much price difference between chicken carcasses and drumsticks where I shopped.

Note 2: Only if you want to speed up the cooking process. Otherwise, tap water is fine.

Instead of going through the process of making clear chicken broth, you can buy pre-made soup base in a packet (which is meant for steamboat/hot pot) from the Asian supermarket. I have never use it before so I can’t tell you if it’s going to be good or not but I know some of my friends use them and it saves them the hassle of making soup from scratch.

 {The Broth}

Let’s get started:-

(1) Use the largest pot you have, wash the chicken drumsticks under running tap water and drained. Add recently boiled water and cook over high until it boils, uncovered. (2) Use a ladle to skim the foamy scum. You will have to let it boil fairly vigorously as it makes the scum-skimming process a lot easier (i.e. the scum will stick together) at the same time, be careful it doesn’t overboil. You have the skim the scum a couple of times until the soup is pretty clear. (3) Add ginger into the soup and let it simmer over low heat for 1 to 2 hours. Keep topping up with water to get a full pot of soup. Season with salt and 2 tbsps crispy garlic and its infused oil (see below) after the cooking time.

Note – I allow the soup to simmer uncover while preparing other things for the steamboat. I reckon I simmered the soup for a good two hours.

Process # 2 – Make crispy garlic infused oil {my favourite way to add flavour to a clear chicken broth}

What you’ll need:-

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 tbsps cooking oil

 {My secret ingredient to make a flavourful clear chicken broth.}

Let’s get started:-

(1) In a small saucepan, add oil and garlic. (2) Over medium heat, fry the garlic until it begins to sizzle. Reduce the heat to low and let it fry until crispy and golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

TO BE CONTINUED… (with the side dishes and how to make you own dipping sauce) – Part 2 is now up! :)

Beef Fajitas Quesadillas

I admit that I have a knack of combining my favourite food into one dish. This is clearly the greediness in me of trying to make food taste even better.

In case you are wondering what is this clumsy looking quesadillas all about, well, it is a a product of my greediness of combining my favourite beef fajitas, melted cheese, fresh onions, spinach and rocket (arugula) leaves sandwiched between my homemade flour tortillas. Doesn’t this sound amazing? Okay, I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet here but I don’t think anything could taste bad when melted cheese is involved, no? Let’s not forget homemade tortillas! Somehow the idea of homemade makes everything tastes better, just like slapping the word “organic” on the fine dining menu.

I hope this will inspire you to make another satisfying meal out of overnight beef fajitas and tortillas if you ever have any. ;)

Beef Fajitas Quesadillas

To make one quesadilla

What you need:-

  • 2 tortillas (I used 2 of my homemade 16cm/6 inchese in diameter tortillas)
  • A small handful of mix salad leaves (i.e. spinach & rocket leaves)
  • Some finely sliced onions
  • About 1/2 cup of beef fajitas (quantity varies depending the size of your tortillas)
  • A handful of shreded cheddar cheese
  • Cooking oil to grease the pan

Let’s get started:

(1) Heat a small greased pan over medium heat. (2) Assemble the quesadilla. In this order, start with the first tortilla on a flat plate, then salad leaves, onions, beef fajitas and shredded cheese. Then top with the second tortilla. (3) Use a spatula to transfer the tortilla to the greased hot pan. Cook until the bottom section (pan side down) is well heated and use the spatula to flatten the quesadilla a little in the meantime. Then use the spatula to flip the quesadilla to heat the under side until the cheese is melted. (4) Transfer to a plate, use a sharp knife to slice it in half and serve immediately.


Make Your Own Flour Tortillas

I’ve been loving the idea of making ingredients which I would normally resort to pre-made version. There is no doubt homemade ingredients  taste better and not to mention the peace of mind of no hidden nasties.

Lately my motivation in the kitchen has been steering towards homemade ingredients (my recent attempt can be seen here). The experience has been pleasant and satisfying. So here is another attempt of mine – flour tortillas.

If time permits, you should really try making these at home. Besides the time of kneading and rolling them out, the ingredients are very accessible (most of them you may already have right at this moment) and despite the extensiveness of my step-by-step photos below, the process is quite straight forward. I hope to be as precise (informative) as possible when it comes to working with dough. Enjoy!

Make Your Own Flour Tortillas

(adapted mostly from Mexican (Company’s Coming Greatest Hits by Jean Pare)

Makes 13 16cm/6 inches flour tortillas

What you need:-

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plain flour) + extra to work the dough
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30g / 1 ounce cold butter
  • 1 cup water

The original recipe specifies 1/4 cup of butter (about 56.7 g/2 ounces/ 0.5 stick) and  2/3 cup of  water. I actually miscalculated the amount of butter in grams from 1/4 cup and therefore, the amount water I used has increased to 1 cup.

 Let’s get started:

(1) Place flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly [which I used a fork to do so, coupled with my fingers i.e. the rub in method].  (2) Add water. Stir until dough forms a ball. If too dry, add water, 1 tbsp at a time, until dough firms [in my words, all the ingredients are roughly adhered together]. (3) Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead the dough 6 to 8 times or until resembles play-doh. Cover with inverted bowl. Let it rest for 20 minutes. (4) Divide into 10 portions. Roll out, 1 portion at a time, as thin as possible. (5) Invert a plate or a bowl [which I used a 16 cm/6 inches dessert plate] onto dough. Cut around edge. Repeat with the remaining dough. (6) Place 1 tortilla on medium-hot ungreased frying pan. Some dark spots will appear in 15 to 20 seconds. Turn. Brown 15 to 20 seconds on second side until dark spots appear. Keep warm in tea towel. Cool. Wrap airtight to store.

Note – the time will vary depending on whether you are cooking on a gas or electric stove, and the conductivity of the pan. For me each tortilla takes no more than a minute. The longer you cook the tortllas, the harder and crispier they are going to be. So they have to be cooked on fairly high heat. When you flip to cook on the second side, the tortilla should still feel fluffy and soft.