Culinary Exploits of Second Year: Asian Stuff

Hot Pot with Rice Cookers

Hot Pot with Rice Cookers

FOOD POSTS 1! I think I will like writing about this 🙂

As a boarding house kid, I am very used to the British diet. Afterall, Chinese takeaways can only save you a limited number of times before the lack of funds forces you to return to the potato feast. Therefore, I have almost no special craving for home cuisine that is prevalent among expats, nor particular knowledge on how to create them.

Case in point: I do not own a rice cooker. Even some non-Asians I know who do, On the off chance that I do make rice, it’s done with a normal pot on the hob and usually served with curry. And I often make a mess of that. Mum must be disappointed about this.

However, there are certain occasions that demand some sort of Chinese or Asian food. When Lunar New Year came by my housemate and I decided that we should celebrate by having a hotpot party.

Also known as steamboat in Southeast Asia, the hotpot is a cross between a stew and a fondue, where fresh ingredients are added into a simmering pot and cooked. Originally a winter dish, it is now eaten at all times and very common at family gatherings, probably because of the variety of possible ingredients and the fact that preparation is minimal: you’d only have to buy everything and the rest is pretty much DIY.

Flooding your guests with choices, achieved through minimal effort. Perhaps the most Hong Kong dish ever.

(For more information check out the Wikipedia page)

There was, however, a slight altercation: a hotpot requires (you guessed it) a pot, and some sort of cooker that’s capable of boiling the soup inside the pot. We have neither: you can’t have your guest crawling around the kitchen and scrambling to reach the hob.

The usual substitution, as I have learnt during my boarding days, is to use an (or a few) rice cooker(s). But if you have been reading carefully, you’ll know we don’t have that either.

Thus, we had to seek other alternatives. For some reason (most like my lack of scientific knowledge), I came to believe that a slow cooker would be powerful enough to keep water boiling for several hours, and so it became my first household appliance purchase. And my first household appliance disappointment.

When our guests asked whether it was necessary to bring anything, we had to reply ‘Can you bring your rice cookers please?’ How embarrassing.



Fortunately, the party went well and I was proud to introduce hotpot (‘way of life’) to my friends. Not to mention the leftover food- that was definitely the most Asian week I have been all year food-wise. Which leads to the second half of the post…

It turned out we had a sizable amount of sliced beef left, and in honour of my admiration of Japan I’ve made a Gyu-don out of it. A beef bowl that is one of the most common Japanese fast food, it’s something that I have had a fair share during my trips and tenure of teaching there.

It’s relatively easy to make: all you have to do is to fry sliced onion and beef pieces together, place them on top of a bowl of rice and then crack an egg over it (for safety, you might want to microwave the bowl a bit)

Coupled with my instant miso soup, a day of bliss and nostalgia.