I apologise for the hiatus (I have said this MANY times, haven’t I?) but I’ve just been a bit undecided about the nature of this blog. While I still want it to be a place to celebrate my journey into motherhood and the milestones my little boy achieves, I feel that I need to take the blog into a slightly different direction.
Hence, this year at least, the things I’m going to be focusing on are:
– Real life experiences with babyhood/toddlerhood (e.g. travelling with a toddler, veggie smuggling, etc.)
– Food glorious food! (recipes particularly kid-friendly ones, cooking with Jacob)
– My opinions (just because I can!)
– Random pictures of Jacob, like this one of him pretending to be a wallaby. So anyway, onto my post today (which you may be able to tell is about FOOD!!!)… If you are not a fan of Asian food, look no further (but trust me, this is one dish that you can fall in love with!).
Growing up in Malaysia, I think I took food for granted. Good food was always around the corner, and I was never left wanting. Whether it was soupy noodles from a coffee shop or roti canai and curry from a mamak stall, or even if I wanted “Western food” (good ol food court “lamp” chop), there was always something I wanted to eat.
Here in Australia, I’m finding more and more reasons to venture into the city to eat my favourite Asian dishes or at least venture to my Asian grocery to get something that tastes remotely like food from home. When I used to work in the city, it was fully possible to indulge in such luxuries but now I’m stuck with an objectionable toddler whose table manners are questionable, cooking things at home just seem to be the norm.
The combination of cold weather and pictures of delicious food coming up on my newsfeed made me really crave Asian food! So, the other day, I urged Daniel to accompany me to my local Asian grocery to pick up some ingredients. Many Malaysian dishes are soon to be made, but for tonight, I felt like having hot pot.
Hot pot is basically dining in front of a boiling pot of broth and adding a myriad of vegetables, meat and seafood (though we don’t eat seafood) into the pot to cook. It’s a longer dining process, but very satisfying, especially on a cold day. In Malaysia, we call it “steamboat” and we usually use a clear broth to cook it – however, my friends and I here usually eat at a Chinese-style hot pot place which has really spicy broth, so I was looking for something of that sort. Alas, I found a soup base so that’s a start. Sorry, I’m a bit of a cheat – I suppose I could have found all the different herbs and spices to make a good soup base, but why do that when I can have the convenience of having it all in one packet? The packet says only to add 1.5L of water but I found it way too spicy and flavourless, so I also added 1L of chicken stock which made it taste much better.
Anyway, on to the fresh ingredients – I think it’s so important to have a balance. While I have to admit that I love the meat in it (beautiful pieces of fatty beef and lamb sliced paper thin), it would be hard to eat this dish without lighter ingredients like green vegetables, mushrooms and tofu. I bought the sliced meat from the Asian grocery (because I don’t think I’d be able to slice it that thinly on my own!). I made up a veggie platter with bok choy, spinach, golden mushroom, tofu, potatoes (mainly for Jacob) and glass noodles. Take note that glass noodles are not rice vermicelli – they are made from bean starch and are transparent, not white. I also cut up some fish and threw in some dumplings (bought, not made. Sorry, I don’t have that kind of time!!).
And then the sauce – there are many varieties to the sauces you can make, but I like to make a simple garlicky sauce that just uses chopped garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and chilli flakes. Quantities are completely up to your tastebuds (though I recommend not putting too much sesame oil as it just gets too oily!).
Real hot pot enthusiasts actually invest in a burner so that you can control your hotpot on the table itself, but I just made it on the stove and transferred it when it was done. Some simple rules around it are:
– Add the food that takes the longest to cook first – common sense! The ingredients in hot pot don’t take too long to cook really, since they are cut finely.
– Don’t double dip – use “serving” cutlery. As tempting as it is to fish something out with your chopsticks, it’s not nice. Hubby and I don’t really care at home but it does matter if you’re having a meal out with a group of people.
– Don’t put raw food in amongst the cooked food – fish out as much as you can and then put a fresh lot of food in. So, what’s the verdict by our judges?
Daniel: It was good – could be spicier! (Hubby’s a firebreathing dragon, I reckon!)
Lianne: Achievement unlocked, and craving satisfied!
Jacob: Yucky! (which is his new favourite word) I cooked Jacob’s food separately as he probably shouldn’t be having full on spicy food. However, I reckon this was just too many new tastes and textures put together. The soup was too wet, the noodles were too thin, meat was too stringy (even though I cut it into small pieces), vegetables were too vegetably – but he did eat some potato and all the tofu. He’s a tofu monster! He then requested a hash brown and ice cream. Oh well!
Anyway, I’m definitely making hot pot again – anyone want to join me? The more the merrier! :)
Just going to end this post with a picture of Jacob having a baby cino – one of the winter luxuries that he certainly indulges in! To my Aussie friends, keep warm – to my Malaysian ones, Selamat Hari Raya and to my friends in UK and across Europe, keep cool!