On the eve of Chinese New Year, many families congregate around a cosy pot of steamboat for reunion dinner. Also known as “wei lu“, it is a time where family members return to their roots to celebrate the unity of the family.
Traditionally, a steamboat dinner consists of chicken, fish and vegetables, although other food items such as fishballs and sausages have been making their way onto the table.
This year, new year’s eve falls on 4th February. Honour the traditions while keeping your health in check this new year.
1. Soup base
The basis of any good hotpot, the soup itself determines the quality of the entire steamboat. Choose a MSG-laden broth and you’ll be setting yourself up for a bout of thirst afterwards.
If you are eating out, choose clear broths such as herbal chicken or mushroom over others such as tom yam soups. Otherwise, avoid consuming the broth as much as possible.
Likewise, go for low-sodium stock cubes/pre-packaged broths when preparing your own.
Of course, we highly recommend brewing your own broths if time permits. Simmer chicken pieces (legs, wings, necks or back bones), drain and you’re good to go!
What starts off as a plain soup will gain its robust flavours from the other ingredients added into the hotpot, so be patient! It will be worth the wait, we promise you.
Manufacturers often add other ingredients to sauces and pastes to achieve the taste we all love. That does not mean it’s healthy! Salt, MSG and sugar are all too common in such dipping sauces.
Did you know that traditionally, sambal belacan is deep fried? That’s where it’s classic fragrant aroma comes from. Watch out for extra oil in chilli pastes as well!
We suggest slicing up your own chillis with a dash of soy sauce for the same spicy kick.
We love our carbs and also recognise its importance in a balanced diet. So, we replaced white rice with brown. Replaced udon with brown rice vermicelli.
As much as possible, we tried to stay away from refined carbohydrates in our hotpot.
4. Fresh over frozen
Instead of loading the table with processed foods, which includes store-bought meatballs and crabsticks, purchase fresh meat from your local butcher. Vegetables from the produce section are also a great choice!
Bet you never knew that crabsticks are not real crab: its red colour is not natural -it comes from artificial food dyes. Even fishballs’ snow-white colour is derived from corn starch added into the mix.
Now you know. Unsurprisingly, these are high in sodium and saturated fats too.
Even though frozen foods are easier on the wallet, treat your health as a long-term investment. Ditch those processed junk for your next steamboat!
When hosting a steamboat, we like to be well prepared. Here is a sample of what our grocery list looks like:
- Lotus root
- Mushroom (Enoki, shiitake, oyster)
- Beef slices
- Chicken breast
- Brown Rice Vermicelli
- Brown rice
- Organic tofu
- Quail eggs
Take this as a starting point. Feel free to add on to the list and make it yours!