*Chinese New Year Special – Steamboat, Chez Boom

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恭禧發財! Happy Chinese New Year to all the Chinese readers out there. It is a tradition to have reunion dinner on the eve of the first day of the Chinese New Year and seeing I don’t have family here in the UK, reunion dinner will have to be just Boom and me. Steamboat or hotpot is a typical dish served for reunion dinner and I thought it is a good idea especially when the weather is on the chilly side.

The Boom and I made a trip to a close by Asian supermarket to stock up on in ingredients on Saturday morning and as expected, the shop was busier than usual. Hoo Hing is a smaller Asia supermarket compared to Wing Yip and it caters more towards the trade business than individual shoppers like me. But it is substantially closer than Wing Yip and it has all the things I need for a steamboat dinner.

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Run down of what we had to cook in the steamboat. On the protein side, we had thinly sliced beef and lamb and they take less than a minute to cook in the hot broth. These are pre-sliced, frozen and comes in deep plastic trays. The portion you can see is just half of each box and they are about £4.95 per box.

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For seafood, prawns are a must while the clams are from Waitrose. Wanted to get fresh prawns but they were not available so frozen ones will have to do. If I recall, the box of frozen prawns were about £6.80 while the clams were around £4. Prawns on the shell is a must as the shell helps to impart flavour to the broth.

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Other must have items for steamboat are an assortment of balls! No, not that sort. These are balls made from fish paste or meat paste. We have 2 variety this time, pork and fish balls. Fried bead curd and knotted bean curd skins are also good for steamboat and a couple of noodles to end the meal if one is still hungry.

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As for greens, we have chinese leaf and water morning glory. I also got some enoki and buna shimeji mushroom which adds some texture to the spread.

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Steamboat is never complete without dipping sauces. Decided to be luxurious and we have 3 different sauces. A homemade chili sauce made with chilies, garlic, shallots, ginger, lime peel and fermented prawn paste, this is the one in the big orange bowl. The creamy looking sauce is made with tahini and fermented bean curd and the last one is a Cantonese Suki dipping sauce from the Asia supermarket.

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As for the broth, the fiery looking one is from a soup base used in Chongqing hotpots while the plain looking one is made from juice from the clams and a fish stock pot. Both the Boom and I thought the fiery one is tastier.

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Finally, steamboat in action! In all, a very enjoyable meal and for once, there was minimum leftovers which was a good thing.

Hoo Hing
A406 North Circular Road
Park Royal
London NW10 7UB
0208 838 3388

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24/7
Strictly by invitation
Only for the worthy

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Cataplana de Porco Alentejano – Eyre Brothers, Shoreditch

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Junk lucked out today! She got to go to a rather posh restaurant for lunch and all thanks to Stan! Yes, that damned one I was cursing the other day. Then again, it wasn’t purely out of the goodness of his heart, it took a Kindle to make him cough up lunch. The story goes, since I got a tablet and am running the Kindle Android app on it to read, saw no point to my Kindle with keyboard. In the spirit of decluttering, decided to flog it off to willing takers. That’s where Stan came in and I offered him the Kindle in exchange for lunch.

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Apparently he has been wanting to try Eyre Brothers after reading about it in Timeout, guess this is the opportunity. The restaurant is located within walking distance from Shoreditch High Street Overground and is in the midst of some pretty funky shops, restaurants and cafes. I should really spread my wings and wander around that area for lunch.

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Unlike other Spanish/Portuguese restaurants, the decor is very modern with no reference to the restaurant’s culture influences. I find that very refreshing, not a single toro in sight. Stan made reservations and suggested the Cataplana de Porco Alentejano which is a sharing dish for two. Pork, clams and being free, can’t say no now can I?  Also ordered a side of braised cabbage greens as the token veg. The Nigerian and Mr CSS were also invited and they ordered a lamb and a hake dish respectively and they both looked pretty good as well.

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Pork and clams, some might think that it is a weird combination but it turned out spectacular. The pork belly was braised just right, tender enough to tear with a spoon yet still maintained a slight bite. The clams provided the briny ozone taste of the sea to the braising liquid which I think had some red wine, rosemary and something that gave it the anise taste. Tarragon perhaps? Some lemon wedges and coriander were served with the dish and we were told to pile our plate with fried potatoes, the stew, a scattering of coriander and topping it all off with a good squeeze of lemon juice. The recommendation worked great, the lemon juice and coriander complimented the rich stew perfectly.  2 minor complains, the fried potatoes were slightly under cooked, could be crispier and if only bigger clams were used. The ones we had were tiny. Perhaps it’s not clam season?

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Mains for the 4 of us with water, 2 Cokes and an orange juice for around £110 which includes service charge of 12.5%, not an everyday lunch thing but good as the occasional treat! Thanks Stan! Hope you enjoy the Kindle.

Eyre Brothers
70 Leonard Street
London EC2A 4QX
0207 613 5346