Saturday, June 20, 2009

Homemade Steamboat Meal

We thought we'd take a break tonite from posting our travel entries, which seem to be unending, and talk about hardcore food. I have always wanted to blog about steamboat at home but most of the time I don't quite remember the exact ingredients I threw in.

With His Royal Highness Sharp Tongue Roger at home from Melbourne, we had a session at my place tonite with family. The special thing about steamboat is when you can have everyone sitting around, talking near yelling level, while dumping in whatever you want to eat. Homemade steamboat is devoid of salt and msg. And it always feels cleaner and less fattening than the typical lard-loaded Chinese meal cos it uses lots of fresh raw ingredients of the best quality. I LOVE steamboat.

Anyone who has steamboat before would understand that a good steamboat session is about 2 things:
1)Freshness of ingredients
2) Quality of the stock

This recipe for stock is my own secret concoction, which sides towards a clear chicken herbal mix but it turned up slightly dark this time, probably too much longan meat and red dates. Usually it is clearer. That is what I meant by i always forget exactly what I put in the last time.
Feeds 8-10 people:

For the stock:
8 -10 litre of water
1 small chicken
4-5 no of chicken bones, better to parboil them to rid smell and blood if any
2-3 no of pork big bones , better to parboil them to rid smell and blood if any
Chinese ham (Jin Hua Hou Tui)
Some dried scallops
1-2 no of medium mengkuang

For the following herbs, please refer to the picture above for rough estimation of quantity:
Red dates (not too much, otherwise the stock will be a little sweet)
Thornberry (Gou zhi)
Solomon's seal (yu zhu)
Yam Root (huai san)
Dried longan meat (cut down by half, otherwise the stock will be on the sweet side)
Mit Zhoa (honey date)
Dang shen
Ginseng slices
pine nuts
2 stalks of leeks
1 no of garlic bulb
Some chinese peppercorn (Hua Jiao) (Optional)

1) Boil water in the big pot. Add ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for at least 6 hours. I normally cook the night before and continue simmering for about 6 hours before serving.

2) Sift before using.

Raw ingredients to be cooked:

The balls series ~ Fish, prawn, pork and beef are our favourite. Always do your own fish balls and prawn balls. Nothing beats it.

But if you are tight with time, finding a good supplier will have to do.

Our must have also. It's called the sandwich, available in most wet market.

Our favourite is this fish cake called Sweet Not Spicy which Joyce brought from Melbourne. Locally this is close but still not as good.

The yong tofu series, which is really good homemade.

The noodles series: If I am really hardworking, I will make my own noodles.
But vermicelli is usually a must. The photo shows the buckwheat noodle from Korea.

The sliced beef, lamb and port shabu-shabu style. These never fail. Without them, steamboat is just not good enough. They need to be pre-ordered at Choice and Butcher's Deli.

Seafood series like mussels, oysters, fresh fish slices and huge prawns.

The mushroom series ~ oyste mushrooms, abalone mushrooms, needle mushroom, black fungus

The seaweeds and beancurd sticks and tofu.

The vegies series ~ QQ chai, chinese wombok, sweet corn.

The sauce ~ my favourite is soya with cut chillis and the chilli garlic sauce. Greg's favourite egg with some Taiwanese sauce Al introduced him called Sha Cha Jiang which is available at Ta Kiong.

Once everything is clean and washed, get ready the carbonated drinks and beer and we are all ready to swish-swash. Everyone cooks their own favourite food while the conversation get louder and louder and at the end of it, everyone falls flat on the floor, rubbing their tummies. To us, with good company, it is a meal that never fails.

But please be very careful with quantity. I am really bad that. I always have a bad habit of going overboard. A little of this, a little of that and KABOOM! we have have a whole ten seater table full of food.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 2: The Arrival in Jeju Island

As much as we were excited about Jeju, leaving Seoul after one day felt like an unfinished business. We were both curious & at the same time a bit anxious about what Jeju could offer us. Our preconception of an island was a place with lots of sea water, lots of sand, lots of sky, lots of sun, & nothing else. What were we going to do for 5 days on a remote island? I looked at Nee, & she also looked back at me. It looked like there was going to be a lot of looking between the two of us for 5 days.

We arrived at Jeju airport at 11am & quickly proceeded to find our way to Haevichi Hotel. The first thing that we realised was that Haevichi was pronounced as HEYBITCHY. The second thing we found out was that there was a free shuttle bus to our hotel at Haevichi. The third was that the bus only leaves at 12.30pm. And since the guy at the information counter told us that it'd take only 15 mins to reach the hotel, we decided to take the cab.

The cab ride took 50 mins & it was more expensive than we thought it'd be. 40,000 won (RM120) & that really made us feel like two Malaysian suckers. Here's something that we'd like to share with you. We'll call them Things Which We Found Out Too Late:

TIP #1: Koreans always get their zeroes mixed up. 50 mins can become 15 mins. 50,000 can become 5,000. When you're there, always make sure to make it really clear when dealing with numbers.

TIP#2: When you come out of Jeju airport, there would be two taxi lanes. DO NOT take the one on the left as its for foreigners who get charged more, unless you think you're a Malaysian, & you know better, Malaysia Boleh & all that. Like us. We got suckered.

But despite all that, we were glad that we got to Haevichi early & in one piece. Haevichi turned out to be a big 5-Star hotel which could do some serious damage.

Do you see the stars yet? All 5 of them?

The place was quite empty cos we arrived in the middle of the week. But even when people started to come in during the weekends, the crowd was small. I guess it's still a relatively new hotel.We found out that the normal rates here was like RM1000 per night. Yup. My mouth opened like a capital 'O' & I almost wet my pants. But we knew we were lucky. Because they had a special promotion, we had gotten the rooms earlier for only about RM390 per night.

The room made both of us felt like we could live there indefinitely, so long as someone else's paying the bills for us.

The bathroom was separated from the bedroom by a 3-piece frosted sliding glass door (not in picture). It's just the perfect kinky thing for those young honeymooners.

Then Nee finally hit the jackpot. She has found her Golden Toilet for her Royal Golden Arse.

This is the Royal Arse Washer to Nee's delight.

Our room was just next to the Jeju Folk Village which emitted recorded folk songs intermittently. But fortunately, they were more atmospheric rather than a disturbance of peace. We were so deeply immersed in Korean folk songs for 5 days that Nee was able to sing it in her sleep.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 2: Hoedeobbap at Gimpo Airport

We woke up early on day 2 cos we were excited to get to the airport. Our flight to Jeju island (yes, the official honeymoon island for Koreans) was at about 10am. We took a free bus shuttle from Gimpo Hotel Airport to Gimpo Airport, which only took 2 of us & nobody else, & we got there in about 5 minutes.

We have booked our flights earlier online with Asiana Airlines, which turned out unknowingly to us to be the best airline of the year or something like that. So that was fine & dandy. A return flight to Jeju from Seoul costs about RM520 per person & it take about an hour with one complimentary drink. :) It was a very comfy flight cos the seats were definitely larger than Malaysia airlines. The plane was very clean, so were the flight attendants' skin & uniforms. Reminder to self: remember to buy the Korean beauty face masks.

Now, the real reason why we wanted to be at the aiport earlier was because we knew they won't be serving food on the plane. So the plan was to have a good Korean breakfast at Gimpo Airport after we checked in.

We found a restaurant which had quite a number of customers and naturally that's where we went. Our mantra has always been something like if you're stupid, just do what everyone else does, & you probably won't go wrong.

The restaurant felt like a food chain cos you'd have to pay first at the counter & they'd give you a number to collect the food yourself.

We were more cautious that morning cos we didn't want to overeat before a plane ride, so we ordered just one Hoedeobbap meal to share. It was like Bibimbap except that it was rice mixed with fresh glorious sushi topped with salad trimings & an alien special sauce.

When it went into our mouths, our first thought was why haven't we come across this before, why didn't we know it even existed before, & why haven't we thought of making this ourselves before? It was such a simple & ingeneous idea.

But of course, there was the missing ingredient - the alien sauce. But of course again, do you think Greg & Nee will let that slip away from them?

We hunted it down at Namdaemun when we got back to Seoul again. It's called the Hoedeobbap sauce for a lack of its own special name. But it's actually vinegared red pepper paste. Don't ask us what else is inside it. We'll have to start talking to our Korean friends.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 1: Samgupsal (BBQ Pork) Dinner at Namdaemun

Namdaemun market is not unlike our Petaling Street or Hong Kong Women's market or even Temple Street. It becomes even more livelier after 5pm when vendors push their carts in a single file to setup shop right in the middle of the street.

It's quite a sight to behold when you see a long line of them quietly entering at the same time without any grand announcement.

Just like the markets at home, you can also find practically anything & everything here. However, Namdaemun is a market of a grander scale. With 6 entrance gates, it's definitely more extensive than the rest.

From the map it looks pretty oragnised, but in reality, when you're down there in the streets, rubbing shoulders with the crowd, & getting tai-chi'd by the aunties, it's pretty easy to lose your direction. But the good thing about tourist places in Seoul is that there will always be a few information booths around with helpful English speaking staff & lots of maps.

We spent the later half the afternoon surveying the site, marking down our targets - Korean souvenirs, Korean ginseng & Korean kitchen utensils. And as evening arrives, our priorities changed to food.

Again, unlike the time when we were in Hong Kong, we didn't have any particular food guide with us this time. So when that happens, it was more like 1) deciding WHAT to eat, 2) look for a place with that SOMETHING that we'd want, 3) surveying which stall had more customers & 4) scrutinising the menu & prices.

This place was located at an alley on the right as you're walking from Namdaemun Gate 6. There were a few BBQ shops here but of course we ended up at the one which seemed to have more customers. But actually we realised later that all of them were full.

The tables here were from a makeshift oil barrel, with a flat circular piece wielded onto the top. They had holes in the middle for the pots (which carries the charcoal) with the bulgogi plates sitting on top.

See hole? No hole! Sheer ingenuity.

And as with any Korean meal, it came with many side dishes, refillable & bottomless.

However we haven't tried pushing the limit before & do not intend to. If you really like something, you can afely ask for more.

This was the Chinese lady who served us. At 9,000 won per person (minimum set), we had BBQ pork wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves & finished up with a bowl of complimentary seafood soup.

The bill for everything came out to be 19,000 won (RM55). Absolutely satisfying!

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