Har Gau


Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Steaming the boat

It's in the shape of a boat and it has steam coming out the chute in the middle.
Or, if you don't have the actual equipment, but want to steam the boat anyway, you buy a camping stove from Argos for £20, put a pot over the camping stove, and call it steampot.

Hotpot, steamboat, chinese fondue, whatever you call it, it involves a pot, soup and constant heating of the pot to allow the diners to cook their food while they eat it.

This might be a strange concept to some, but the main purpose of dining this way is so that the host doesn't feel excluded from the party.

At most dinner parties, the host (or the cook who got the short straw) sweats away in the kitchen while the guests party and laugh away in the front room.
Not so much at a hotpot party. EVERYONE sweats away together in front of the camping stove.

This is the kind of host my guests have the pleasure of dining with.

The dishes are put around the pot, and when the soup boils, everyone puts whatever they want into the pot.
Cue, frenzied chopstick action in the pot, every stick intent on putting more and more into the pot.

When every inch in the pot is filled, you add more on.
And then you wait for it to boil and just before it oveflows onto the tabletop, you scoop it all out onto your bowl.

This might be a good time to pause, and ponder on this question. Why is it that at buffets, or at all-you-can-eat restaurants, do we feel the need to consume the equivalent of 2 weeks' worth of food?

This is the formula I go by:

(Buffet price / average price of a meal) = number of times I have to visit the buffet table

This usually equates to about 12. You might now think that I go to very expensive buffets. Actually, I just have very cheap meals.

This is how the buffet visits usually go.

First 3 rounds: Filled with excitement and a sense of achievement, smiling all the way to and back from the buffet table

Next 2 rounds: If I hold my breath, I won't have to loosen the belt. If I breathe out, buttons pop. But still, the buffet championships must go on.

Next 3 rounds: Not smiling too much, in fact, not much expression because all concentration is on how to get from the buffet table to the dining table without breathing too much.

Next 2 rounds: Someone else is sent to the buffet table, instructions are to only get the stuff which cost £2 or more a piece.

Next 2 rounds: Bill, please.

But anyway, back to the boat.
So, we had steampot on Saturday. This was after the visit to the fish market, so the ingredients were mainly fish.

Starters were pan-fried scallops and grilled chicken wings. Scallops, like pancakes, tend to require a few rounds of cooking before you perfect the art. Scallops, unlike pancakes, cost alot more.

Such expensive little pancakes.

Prawns also made their way to the pot. 1 kg of prawns for £7.50. No marinade necessary for these.
Prawns, when cooked, become orange. Prawns, when eaten, look like this.

No matter how much you've had for dinner, there's always that little space for dessert.

Marks & Spencer's apricot tart with some custard, perfect dessert for the steamboat.

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