Monday, October 7, 2013

Comfort foods: Steamboat at Crystal Jade

Steamboat is one of the comfort foods of my childhood. It comes in many variants, primarily in the soup base but also in the ingredients to be cooked by dipping into the boiling stock. Crystal Jade, who have been quietly making big strides in the Singapore and Asian culinary scene with good quality food in very convenient locations, recently opened a new restaurant specializing in steamboat.

This outlet, in the new-ish Zhong San Park, with the restarant's glass walls looking into a beautiful landscaped garden court. The new mall houses 2 hotels in its complex. I was there as part of the media tasting organized by JJ Koh of Pinstripes Communication who hosted the lunch with Samantha of Crystal Jade.

We tasted a duo of stock a superior broth of Pork Bone and another of Tom Yam.

The soup bases are rather special, and are the key to a good steamboat. The pork bone soup is made from a superior broth simmered for more than 12 hours, with fresh whole chicken, chicken feet, lean pork and pork bones. This is a robust, hearty stock, very comforting. The Tom Yam soup base is for those with a prefer a spicy base, and is made with superior broth, simmered with a Thai chilli and fresh chilli padi, lemongrass, scallion and lime juice.

A sauce station is placed for self service, and offers many varieties of sauces, from sesame to chilli, to diverse sauces to satisfy a wide range of tastes.

And the steamboat ingredients...

Handmade squid ball

Squids, carrots and celery...minced, hand made into balls. Very nice...beautiful sweetness of the squid and a very good springy texture. My favourite.

Fishball, Teochew style

Fresh white fish, hand formed. Nice tasting. Goes very well with either soups, but for me, I prefer the fishballs in the Tom Yum.

Meat balls

Another tasty one! The pork is handcut and rolled into a ball with fresh water chestnut. The meat is very nice with the pork bone soup, and the water chestnuts gives it a crunch.

They also offer a hand made prawn ball with black tiger prawns and a bit of squid.

Also on the menu, fresh meat, sans marinade, so it is critical to have fresh meats being presented for the steamboat

And a special Chef creation of grilled sea bass with preserved vegetables.

In addition to the traditional style steamboat, also available are two casserole type dishes which can also be turned into steamboats. The first is a fish soup, and another is a chicken pot dish.

A staple of Teochew cuisine is the stemed fish with preserved vegetables. The chefs gives this typical dish a twist by grilling the whole fish till golden brown, and on this, a savoury piquant sauce is dished over. The fish was very fresh, the meat firm, yet yielding. Very nice, with the soup, which, after the meat has been eaten, the fish bones can be removed, and the soup used as a stock base for steamboat. Quite superb.

By this time, we were already quite full, but a pot bearing the sauteed chicken with dried chilli and onion was served.

This was an intense dish. Very aromatic, with chicken sauteed the dried chilli in a sizzling hot pot. Broth can also be added after the initial tasting to make this into a spicy steamboat.

And finally a comfort food...salted pork bone and dried vegetable porridge

Pork and bones are salted for 8 hours, blanched and boiled for 2 hours with rice. Then the steam dried vegetables are added...a simple, but hearty and robust, comfort porridge.

Highly recoommended. If one choses the ingredients properly, can be a very nutritious and yet healthy meal.

Crystal Jade Steamboat Restaurant
#01-18 Zhong Shan Mall
20 Ah Hood Road

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