Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Perfect DIY Steamboat for Chinese New Year by Chef Li Kwok Kwong @ ToTT Hands-on Session Cooking Class

The Lunar New Year is coming soon and we know families celebrate it differently depending on their 'tradition'. Our family's 'tradition' is to have mum and aunties cook different dishes that is meant to last the first few days of the New Year. So many dishes and so much work. Mum said that maybe having steamboat on alternate years will make all the ladies life easier.

Some people will say, let's just eat outside. That's if restaurants are open! If you are able to book a place to eat, you will be faced with fixed time slots to dine. The popular places have 3 sessions a night where you can sit and eat for a maximum of 1.5 to 2 hours.That's dining in Singapore. It's crowded at the places you want to go.

Here's a solution for those who can't cook, or want ideas to make your steamboat better. Last weekend, I attended a cooking class at ToTT (Tools of The Trade).  There was a free slot available and I got slotted into the class courtesy of friends in high places. The class was about making the Perfect DIY Steamboat for Chinese New Year.

You can take a look at the classes available at: http://content.tottstore.com/classes

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

I was quite tempted by the class because steamboat is becoming one of the favourite way to entertain people at home. I thought it's worthwhile going for a lesson. If you have been following me on Instagram, you know we have steamboat quite a bit at home or outside. It's always nice to learn something new from Chefs.

I was also curious to find out how Chef Li Kwok Kwong from Feng Shui Inn, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) prepares his stocks and other ingredients. (Chef Li was formerly at Miramar Hotel and Lei Garden in Hong Kong. In Singapore, he was previously at Wah Lok.)

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

Sometimes, you get more than what you expected. 2 chefs came that day! Chef Li came with one of his colleague from RWS. 2 shifus to transfer knowledge!

A special thanks to ToTT and Chef Li from Resorts World Sentosa, who agreed that their recipes can be freely shared on this blog.

1) 香茜皮蛋鱼汤  Fish and Century Egg Soup with Parsley.

One of the first few things that Chef Li said was that he won't hide any secrets. Ask him any questions. Such a nice person. The first dish that he is going to demonstrate and we follow him in the hands on session was to prepare the fish soup that is 'white' without adding milk. It's simple, we just need to know the steps and techniques!

Here's the ingredients list:
汤底 Soup Base
大鱼骨Fish bone – 2 KG
皮蛋Century Egg - 1, cut into 6 pieces
芫茜Parsley – 500 gram
清水 Water – 5 litres
胡椒粉Pepper- 少许 a little
Salt - 10g
Sugar - 20g
姜片Ginger – 3Slices

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

There are 2 kinds of cooking classes at ToTT. This is the hands-on class where every participant has a workstation to cook everything. After collecting the ingredients from the "teacher's table", we follow the recipes or just look at what Chef is doing.

Since it's a Fish and Century Egg Soup with Parsley we need to cut the parsley / cilantro. Cut it into 1 inch width. For the century egg, cut the whole egg into 6 slices. That's simple enough!

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

The secret or technique to getting white broth is to steam the fish first. Stream it for 15 mins then remove it. Chef said we can use any fish, but his personal favourite is garoupa. As much fish bones you can get, to make the broth richer.

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

The steamed fish that was then portioned into trays for us. We were told to discard the liquid. The whitish liquid on the tray with the steamed fish will give it a super fishy smell.

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

Then heat up a frying pan till it's very hot! Add in some oil and then put in 3 slices of ginger. We are to add in the fish pieces to the super hot fying pan. After pan frying it for a while and when the pan gets super heated again, pour in boiling water to the sides of the pan. It's going to be very very steamy process. That's what is needed to get the whitish broth!

There was so many of us in class and we realised everyone have selected listening skills. Those who paid attention and do exactly will get very nice white broth! You know you have done something wrong when you see your broth is clear! LOL.

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

Keep it at medium heat and boil it for around 15 minutes.

Here's a short video clip that I posted on Instagram. Delicious, fragrant white fish broth boiling away.

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

After around 15 minutes, you will see that your broth is white and creamy! Add in the century egg, parsley, pepper, salt  and sugar and continue to boil for 10 minutes and it's ready to serve. So easy right? Strain the bones off and you have a very good broth. You can make a huge batch and store them into containers in the freezer.

Someone was saying, we should have brought some 'chu mi fen', then we can cook a nice fish head noodles.


2) 鲜虾水饺 Handmade Prawn Dumplings

The next item Chef Li was going to teach us was to make prawn dumplings.

Here's the ingredients list:
鲜虾肉Shrimp meat – 1 Kg
水饺皮Dumplings Skin - 50 Sheets
冬筍Bamboo shoots - 50g
木耳Fungus - 30g
肥猪肉Pork  - 20g
麻油Sesame oil - 20g
胡椒粉Pepper - 5g
Salt - 5g
Sugar- 10g
生粉 Corn Starch- 30
鸡蛋 Egg- 2

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

For the class, we each took 10 prawns and cut it into 4 pieces each. We also took a piece of bamboo shoot and chop it finely. 1 piece of black fungus and slice it thinly. Next was a tiny piece of lard and chopped it up finely.

We did not make the full recipe as shown above. Just enough to make around 12-15 dumplings.

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

Next we put in the seasoning and we had to squeeze the mixture. Chef said we got to squeeze it a bit till we see that it's a little mushy. The ingredients will kind of stick together after just enough of massaging.

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

That's about how the texture of the ingredients is suppose to look. Sticking together and not separated.

Here's a video I took and posted on Instagram on how to fold the dumplings.

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

Here's how mine looked like. Not as easy as it looks. You can see that my ingredients are coming out from the sides of some.


We saw that the chef did not use any water to stick the skin together. He said there's no need to. He was right, after folding and squeeze it a little, the dumpling stayed in shape. He said there's enough liquid in the ingredients. How interesting eh? We always a bit of water to stick it together at home!

3) 猪肉丸 Handmade Pork Balls
Next on the demonstration was to make meatballs!

Here's the ingredients list:
五花腩肉 Pork belly meat - 1kg
香菇 Mushrooms - 10g
马蹄 Chestnuts - 20g
芫茜 Parsley - 5g
鸡蛋白 Egg White - 2 Pieces
Salt - 5g
胡椒粉 Pepper - 少许a little
麻油 Sesame oil  - 10g
生粉 Corn Starch - 20g
鸡精粉 Chicken powder - 20g
肥猪油 Pig oil - 100g

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

We each took a strip of pork belly, 2 water chestnuts and 1 mushroom for the hands on session. A very scaled down version which I think is enough for 2 - 3 persons. Just scale down from the ingredients list if you are not going to make so much.

If you have been to cooking classes, you know there are always machines to play with, especially if you are going to minced meat. We were in a Chinese Cooking class and we realised we only have the knife to chop it all up! This is like 'Da Chang Jin' cutting up the meat on TV! So much work!

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

Cut the meat into smaller pieces first, then mince it up. It's probably the noisiest cooking class ever. So many people all making mince meat with their knives! Probably quite worth the effort because the meatballs tasted so nice after we cooked it!

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

Everything into small pieces. My hands were so tired. The chef would slice the mushroom into thin slices, then julienne it, then cut into tiny cubes, so quickly. I can't even slice the mushroom into thin slices first. I just cut slowly. Chef was walking around and looking at everyone and say careful careful. He must be shocked to see how everyone held our knives.

After adding the seasoning, we were to squeeze and throw the meat into the container for around 5 minutes. Oh, this is hardwork indeed. The chef went around and said, you need to squeeze/knead/massage the meat more.

Squeeze the meat out into balls through our clasped thumb and index finger. That I know, coz that's how mummy does it.

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

五花腩肉切碎, 香菇切粒,马蹄和芫茜切幼粒。将五花肉放进盘中,加蛋白和肥猪油,用手捞5分钟,打至起胶,加盐,胡椒粉,麻油,生粉,鸡精即可。

I think my meat needs to be a bit more chopped up and the texture is suppose to be sticky. I shall improve it on my next try at home.

4) Dipping Sauces

Chef said he's going to show us how to make some dipping sauces that is superb for steamboat.

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

This sauce is spicy and very fragrant because of the sesame dressing. It's a mixture of ingredients that I never knew would go together!

Here's the ingredients list:
日本麻酱 Japanese Sesame Dressing - 1 Bottle
麻油 Sesame Oil 5g
太白斯高 Tabasco 5g
芫茜粒 Chinese Pasley  5g
红椒粉 Chilli powder  5g
泰国鱼露 Thai Fish Sauce 5g

This is made from a Japanese sesame sauce, some chilli powder and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, a few dashes of Thai fish sace Then topped with some chopped Chinese Parsley.

Unique right? Tabasco used in a Chinese dipping sauce!

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

The 2nd dipping sauce is very Chinese.

Here's the ingredients list:
豆腐乳 Fermented Bean curd  10 pieces
蚝油 Oyster Sauce 200g
麻油 Sesame Oil 5g
砂糖 Sugar 200g
红椒油 Chili Oil 20g

For the one we made, we used 3 cubes of fermented tofu, half a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a sprinkle of sugar and some sesame oil. I think I forgot the chilli oil. Give it a good mix.

This sauce is for the older generation or those who love fermented tofu.

The final dish:

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

That's all we had time for. Time to boil the dumplings and meatballs.
Look how it all stayed in shape and looks and tasted so yummy!

Perfect DIY Steamboat @ ToTT Cooking Class

I cooked 2 of each to eat and photographed it first. I sometimes wonder how I manage to cook, cut, take photograph eat at the same time!

After tasting it, it's time to cook up the rest of the meatballs and dumplings to bring home! Yes, you always get to bring back food for your family to try! I brought to to the in-laws place to let the try. They were quite impressed with it.

When I reproduce this again, I might just use the machines at home to help me. Maybe I shall use my Thermomix to mince the meat instead of hand chopping them! I can't imagine mincing 1 kg of meat with my hands!

If you would like to attend classes, you can browse though http://content.tottstore.com/classes

I see some Valentine's Day classes coming up in the link above. I see a Dating Session there and I thought of this colleague of mine. LOL.

Oh yes, I did see a couple behind my station that was obviously enjoying themselves very much. The girl has a bunch of flowers in her bag. They must be on a date cum cooking class lah. Some day a couple who cooks together, stays together?  Go as a couple to learn how to cook French cuisine perhaps or pastry session that you can bake sweet something to complement the whispering of sweet nothings.

ToTT Cooking Class
896 Dunearn Road
01-01A (Sime Darby Building)
Singapore 589472

Tel: +65 6219 7077

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