Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Landmark - Hot Pot without Meat...sort of
Over a year ago, I reviewed Landmark as one of my very first post on this food blog. I was nostalgic and reread my first post and wow, my writing style sure has changed! If you've never tried hot pot, this will be a revelation. Upon arrival, you will be asked for a choice of soup base and there are a lot of choices. You can pick a medicinal soup complete with ginseng, a century egg and parsley soup, a peppery pork stomach soup, a tom yum soup and if you're less adventurous, a basic chicken stock based soup. The heating element at your table brings the soup to a boil and keeps it there as you dunk all the following raw ingredients into it. Don't worry about the soup boiling away, as the waiters continue to replenish the soup as you dine.
However, some things never change, and as with my last post, we started with live prawns. Since my dining companion doesn't eat shellfish, I only got a 1/2 a pound for myself. These were still moving when we got them! I know it looks a little cruel with the skewers and stuff, but really, it makes much more manageable when you dunk into the soup, much more civilized in a way. When you get live prawns like this, be sure you only cook them for a few minutes or else they will get rubbery and tough. And after they are cooked, return them to your plate and leave it there for about 3 minutes before you attempt to peel and eat.
We also got some taro, which adds amazing rich sweetness to the pot as you let it slowly cook. On the right, we have bean curd skin...they were previously dried and then resoaked to soften them up. These are great in the broth since they don't have much flavour of their own, and will take on whatever soup base you have as well as any sauces (think chili, satay and soy) that you dunk it into.
One thing about hot pot is that fresh fish slices tend to get lost in the soup and end up being totally overcooked. One way around this? They make the fish slices into a paste and stuff it into deep fried tofu puffs. Ingenuity at its best! This ensure that the fish stays in the tofu puff and firms up nicely to give the puff a unique soft and chewy texture. These here are halved and served open-faced, but some places actually inject the fish paste into the tofu puff and keeps it whole, with the fish paste inside a wonderful surprise!
Since this dinner took place during Lent (and I had swore off meat and coffee), this delicious plate of beef was my friend's to enjoy all on her own. Check out the marbling on this! They freeze the meat and then slice it paper-thin so that it cooks in minutes.
The last item we ordered was the Deep Fried Fish Skin. The pieces are actually okay to eat without even using the soup to cook it in, it's like fish chips, complete with crunch and all. You either like it or you don't. But when you dunk it into the soup, the pieces softens and becomes chewy.
I regret not taking a picture of the soup pot with all of the goodness cooking inside, something I will rectify on my next visit!