We have been invited to participate in a Shabu-Shabu 101 that was initiated by Ms. Candy Hwang owner of Healthy Shabu-Shabu in Shangri-La Mall ( Mandaluyong) last night. Karla and I knew that we are expected to cook our own food as what we did in our previous food trippings of other Shabu-Shabu restaurants, now at least we learned new things from the experts
Let me first describe the difference in eating Shabu-Shabu than in a usual restaurant. First, a Shabu-Shabu restaurant has a different type of table wherein it has some burners under it ( other restaurants would have an LPG tank under/ beside the table) because this requires heat in order to proceed with the cooking. Second, there ‘paraphernalia’ needed in Shabu-Shabu such as Chinese soup spoon (or White Spoon), soup laddle and strainer. Third, if you are in a hurry this isn’t for you. You need to be prepared to be inside the restaurant in about an hour or more. Also, be ready to smell like food ( you know, like being in a fastfood court) since you will be cooking your own food.
Here is the idiot’s guide to Shabu-Shabu:
1) Choose the type of Shabu-Shabu that you want.
The most standard thing in the Shabu-Shabu are the vegetables and noodles. So all you have to do is choose whether you like meat, seafood, chicken, lamb, etc.. Once you decide on what kind of Shabu-Shabu you want, the waiter will bring it to your table immediately and you can already start the cooking. So you will be expecting the waiter to pour the soup base on your Shabu-Shabu pot, then he/she will be bringing some chopped garlic, chili and green onion, also sate (or barbeque sauce) will be brought too.
2) Boil the Soup Base
Decide whether you want your soup base to be spicy, mild or just the plain chicken stock base. By the way, Ms. Hwang said that in Healthy Shabu-Shabu, vegetarian customers can request a mushroom stock base from the waiters. After knowing what kind of soup base you want, mix the ingredients in the Shabu-Shabu pot. Manager Toto was the one who was demonstrating in our table, he dropped half of the chopped garlic, chili and green onions onto my soup (make sure that the soup is boiling before adding the ingredients, as what Ms. Hwang said so that the soup become tastier than rushing everything). As for me, I like my soup spicy so I added more chopped chili and sate on my soup stock. Then, half of the chopped chili, garlic and green onion were dropped into my sauce. This sauce is important because this would give more flavor on the soup base. As for the fresh egg, Manager Toto separated the egg white and the yolk. He placed the egg white onto the boiling soup ( you have to stir it immediately so as to not burn the egg whites) and as for the yolk, he added it to my shabu-shabu sauce.
After doing that ritual, drop the vegetables that would require a long time to cook such as the sweet corn, yam, carrots etc.. The mushrooms, tofu, fish cakes, fishball, squidball, meatball, Taiwanese Pechay and Cabbage would only require a short time of cooking (probably a 10-20 seconds) so better fish them out before it melts in the boiling pot. What I could suggest is to cook one item at a time. Do not drop all the ingredients altogether if you will not eat yet.
You can already drop the meat or seafood on the pot. The meat slices are very thin and the cooking requirement is very short (probably 5-10 seconds). As for the prawns, it may take longer probably 8-10 minutes.
3) Eating the Shabu-Shabu
Since you will be dropping the ingredients one a time, eating is also done one at a time. It would taste much better if you dip the item ( vegetable, meat or seafood) onto the sauce that you prepared in the beginning. I would suggest not to order rice anymore ( sorry for rice lovers here…) because you will really get full at once if you eat rice while eating Shabu-Shabu.
For this kind of meal, PATIENCE IS REALLY A VIRTUE. Eating Shabu-Shabu is really an art wherein you enjoy the food by being involved in the preparation of it.
And after a shabu-shabu food trip, you may want to try their fresh fruits with black gulaman as a dessert.
You can visit Healthy Shabu-Shabu in Powerplant Mall, The Podium, SM Mall of Asia, Robinsons Galleria, SM North The Block, Alabang Town Center, Robinsons Midtown and Shangri La Plaza Mall.