Healthy Hotpot

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Posted by Luan J on September 09, 2006 at 19:26:20:

The Manila Times

Life and Times

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The king and his �healthy� hotpot

By Terrie B. Fucanan

HERE�s a fascinating trivia for shabu-shabu lovers: Your favorite steam broth meal dates back to the 13th century, and with Gengis Khan�s soldiers as its regular patrons. Weather-beaten and hungry, the great Mongolian emperor�s men sought nourishment from the huge, boiling pots of vegetables, seafood and meat�the easiest way to feed a hundred-thousand-strong army. Similarly, China�s Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618 to 907), a civilization famous for its strong military rule, showed early practices of the hotpot cooking method.

Healthy Shabu-Shabu�s Candy Hwang
says the best way to enjoy
shabu-shabu is through
individual preparation.

Today, the cuisine has earned not only followers from various parts of the globe, it has also evolved into a comfort food of several variations. It�s called hotpot in China, steam broth in Singapore and shabu-shabu in Japan, with each having its own set of key ingredients and sauces.

Shabu-shabu is distinct for its use of mostly fresh ingredients and savory, less sweet sauce, as compared with another famous Japanese soup dish, the Sukiyaki. Shabu-shabu used to be considered a winter dish, but in the Philippines, home to soup-loving Pinoys, shabu-shabu is eaten all year round.

�It�s the best choice for health-conscious people,� says the entrepreneur Candy Hwang, proprietor of Mini Shabu-Shabu and the newly opened Healthy Shabu-Shabu at the SM Mall of Asia and SM City North EDSA. �Shabu-shabu is already a complete meal and you can choose which kind of ingredients you can put right in.�

At her new venture Healthy Shabu-Shabu, Hwang emphasizes an extensive yet flexible menu choice for all kinds of dieters. A high-protein set for Atkins followers, vegetables and lean protein meat set for South Beach dieters and even an all-vegetable set for vegans. For those who just love to eat, there are seafood and meat sets, as well as seafood and meat combinations. A customer who dines solo has personal sets to choose from, and it comes with a dessert for only about P235.

A frequent traveler and food lover, Hwang thought of tailor fitting the hotpot concept in 2001. Unlike those Khan dynasty soldiers who cooked their food in one huge hotpot, she wanted each of her customers to have their own shabu-shabu experience, and take full control of what goes into the pot and how the ingredients are cooked. �Instead of a big pot for a group to share, I had individual pots custom-made,� she declares. �It�s more hygienic and there will be no surprises, because it was you who did the cooking.�

She assures: �This makes your food free from any harmful additives like oil, MSG or artificial flavorings. You also get to control the spiciness of your food and your sauce.�

All the ingredients, from the meat to the seafood and fruits are delivered every day to the restaurant to ensure freshness, said Hwang. And to fully promote healthy eating, she only serves fruit juices at Healthy Shabu-Shabu. Her Halo-Halo is her own concoction as well�a blend of assorted fruits with milk.

If you haven�t tried the cuisine yet, Healthy Shabu-Shabu is the friendliest, least complicated place to be. Hwang�s staff will be glad to do all the cooking and mixing for you upon request, and your kids will get entertained and informed as well.

�Many of the kids who dine here find it fun to participate in the cooking,� Hwang says. �The experience teaches them how to prepare their own food at the same time.�

So whether you�re feeding a large group or it�s just your soup-craving appetite that�s on a roll, Genghis Khan�s broth-based meal is worth checking out. �After all,� Hwang says, �The modern hotpot lets you take full control, like you are the king.�

This rainy season, Hwang is offering congee varieties for breakfast. You can choose from oyster, chicken breast, fish fillet, shrimp, beef tenderloin, mixed seafood, Angus beef, crab and lobster. For inquiries, visit healthy Shabu-Shabu on the second floor, Bay Area of the SM Mall of Asia and at the Annex 3 of SM City North EDSA, or call 556-0354 to 55.

6 steps to delicious shabu-shabu

Step 1: Choose your ingredients.

The basic ingredients are vegetables (Taiwan petchay, Baguio petchay, Beancurd, Yam, black mushrooms and carrots), meat (lamb, Angus beef and pork), seafood (fish varieties, crab, lobsters, prawns, squid and more), and noodles (vermicelli and egg noodles).

Step 2: Boil the soup base.

Step 3: Add in the veggies.

Put in the sweet corn and yam first because they take the longest time to cook. Add a portion of leafy vegetables and bean curd to the soup along with the meatballs and tofu. Let them stay for only 30 seconds to avoid overcooking. Soak the vermicelli noodles for no longer than 20 seconds.

Step 4: Add the seafood.

While you enjoy the cooked vermicelli noodles, add the fresh seafood ingredient, one at a time. The crab, lobsters and shrimps should go first to improve the soup�s flavor, followed by the fish. Cook for less than a minute.

Step 5: Add the meat when it reaches the boiling point.

For more tender meat, pour a beaten egg over the beef or lamb platter then add to the boiling hotpot. Cook for less than a minute.

Step 6:

Add in the egg noodles.

Preparing the sauce

Your dipping sauce may contain any of these ingredients: a BBQ sauce (that looks deceivingly like shrimp paste), chopped garlic, onion, chili and a special sauce base. You may mix all the ingredients together according to your liking, or to make it richer, add in an egg yolk to the blend. Blend well and start dipping in the broth-boiled ingredients. Enjoy!

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