nEbO’s Top 10 Favourites – The CNY Steamboat Edition
Chinese New Year is fast approaching! Besides the ang pows (red packets) that we all look forward to receiving, having tuan yuan fan (reunion dinner) is another exciting segment where we gather with our loved ones and bond over a hearty and satisfying meal. Steamboat is commonly known as one of the most popular choices for many families as it embodies a sense of togetherness, and it is simple and fuss-free to prepare!
However, for added convenience, some might still choose to dine out at an atas hotpot restaurant where prices are sky high. Those who love having steamboat but are not willing to spend hundreds of dollars just for dinner, fret not! We went scouting at a local supermarket to pick out our Top 10 favourite ingredients for a homemade steamboat meal. Anyway, don’t you think it’d be more meaningful to do-it-yourself?
Price: $2.80 to $3.10
To many households, carbs are a staple at almost every meal. If you’re thinking of going for something other than the classic white rice, how about having some noodles instead? With such a wide variety, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice! We recommend carrot or spinach noodles, a great alternative for those who aren’t big fans of your greens. We’re also loyal supporters of udon, a chewy noodle that soaks up the flavour of the soup base. Remember not to cut your noodles though; beliefs have it that their length represents longevity, so slurrrp away!
2. CHEESY MEATBALLS
Meatballs are a classic ingredient that we love to add to our steamboat. Nowadays, when you think of meatballs, they aren’t just the plain ones that we’re used to having. There is such a wide variety with so many different kinds of fillings that it’s almost impossible to pick just one. But if we had to, we’d choose the one with the warm, golden oozy cheese that bursts into your mouth as you take your first bite. This yummy golden liquid represents an abundance of wealth so eat as many as you can!
Price: $4 to $5
Similarly, dumplings represent wealth because of their ingot-like shape. If you have spare time on your hands, you could consider wrapping them from scratch but we found many interesting ones that could probably be good replacements. From shrimp to chives to kimchi and more, you’ll be surprised at the different possibilities and combinations available! P.S. You could consider mixing in some har kows for added variety.
Price: $1.10 to $1.95
There are so many types of mushrooms to choose from but our three favourites have gotta be the crowd-pleasing golden, oyster and button mushrooms. Mushrooms soak up the soup broth really well, making them taste even yummier than they already are. One major plus point is that mushrooms are oh-so-healthy; we never have to worry about having too many.
We all know how prawns are the secret to a sweet soup base. Fun fact: To the Cantonese, prawns are called ‘ha’, which sounds very much like the sound of laughter. We’re very sure that your bellies will be rolling in happiness with the addition of prawns in your steamboat.
6. SHABU SHABU
Pork, beef or chicken? Take your pick! We love how we only need to dip these thinly sliced meats into our hot soup for a couple of seconds before they’re ready to be eaten. In the olden days, meat was considered a treat for many, hence being able to eat them now would represent a wealth of abundance in the household.
Price: $0.80 to $1.60
Your feast definitely wouldn’t be complete without some greens. Vegetables not only help to balance out the entire meal and keep you from getting too ‘jelat’ from all that meat intake, but they also add more flavour to your broth. There are of course so many different types of veggies you can choose from but our favourites are yau mak chai and kang kong as they retain some crunch and texture even after boiling. Fun fact: ‘Cai’ sounds like ‘wealth’ in Chinese, so if you’re all about them dollar bills, you know what to do!
Price: $0.95 to $2.55
Soft, silky and smooth, tofu is a crowd favourite as it is healthy and easy to eat. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous this year, why not try cheese tofu? A softer version of fishcake accompanied with cheese bits that melt in your mouth with every bite. Remember to add in bai ye dou fu if you’re a big fan of ma la xiang guo.
Price: From $5
As the Chinese saying goes: nian nian you yu, or ‘to have fish every year’. It means abundance or simply, wishing for everyone to have more. This is why we often see fish as a staple ingredient during CNY. Remember to slice your fish about a quarter-inch thick to prevent it from disintegrating into the soup. You could also choose to place your slice of fish in a small strainer to ‘chope’ it so that it doesn’t get lost in the pot!
10. SOUP BASE
Last on the list but definitely the most important of them all – the soup base. Whether you prefer it sweet, salty or spicy, there are so many ready-packed ones available in the market that even we’re finding it difficult to pick just one. Not to worry, get a steamboat pot that allows you to enjoy two or even four soup bases. You won’t regret it!
So, did we manage to successfully tempt you into preparing your own steamboat reunion dinner this year? We hope our Top 10 favourites list will help you along in your quest to find the best ingredients at the best prices. Now, go forth and shop!
P.S. If you’re a nEbO member, swipe your nEbO Plus! card to earn LinkPoints when you shop at NTUC FairPrice!
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