I spent a week in the Cameron Highlands… I visited the largest tea plantation in SouthEast Asia the eerie Mosy Forest and did a few hikes when it wasn’t raining. I loved the atmosphere and was happy I found a place I could really just rest and relax after some crazy times in the Philippines and Thailand. I was beached out, partied out and just wanted to spend a week doing nothing and resting. The Cameron Highlands was the perfect place to do all this. The hight light of my week there was not the tea plantation, Mosy Forest or any of the hikes… the highlight of my time there was the food!!! The choices were limited, but I didn’t care… I was enjoying my amazing Indian Banana Leaf meals for lunch & dinner and was in heaven. Then one day everything changed…
I met two other backpackers on one of the hikes & we chatted for like ever. They then let me know that that night they were going to have a steamboat & if I wanted to join them. I had seen the advertisements for the steamboat around, but always saw the sign say for 2 or more people and since I was alone never paid much attention to them. I let them know yes lets do this… even though I honestly had no fucking clue what a steamboat was. Come to find out the Steamboat is actually one of the main dishes in the Cameron Highlands because of the constant cool temperatures. Once we arrived to the restaurant they explained to me what it was and I was excited to learn we were all going to be our very own chefs.
A steamboat is a Chinese tradition where you receive two types of soups to boil many ingredients yourself and enjoy at your leisure. I kept giggling… because I honestly don’t know how to cook anything and thought I wasn’t going to be able to handle this. I mean I knew it was just BOILING things, but even then was a bit scared jaja. The steamboat arrived along with all our ingredients. I of course had to stop everyone from starting so I could get a picture of everything. I rarely write about food, but knew I had to write about this experience. Here are the photos of the steamboat along with all the ingredients we had to boil ourselves.
—The steamboat on the stove going full steam ahead boiling the soups.—
—Eggs, regular pasta & angel hair pasta.—
—Prawns and pieces of squid with lettuce underneath.—
—Tofu, fu chuk, fishballs & meatballs.—
—I don’t know what these are called… I’m sorry.—
—Crab sticks, chicken, fish and other vegetables.—
After the little photo shoot it was time to get down and dirty. By dirty I mean toss the ingredients in the soup to boil. You have an option of a few soups to choose from so we chose chicken soup and tom yam soup. The fun began… I started by throwing in some chicken and fish because I knew those would take long to cook and then threw in the egg along with some noodles and a few of the other things. Little by little things were ready and we were enjoying a very delicious soup with many delicious ingredients. At times it was like you were playing hide & seek with the ingredients because you’d put them in and then have to search for them at the bottom of the steamboat. We chatted away and were enjoying every minute of this experience.
—The steamboat on the boil with all the goodies in there boiling and getting ready to eat.—
Like all good experiences they normally have to come to an end. A few hours later (yes we were there well over 2 hours eating our hearts away) it was all over. We were full, the soup was gone & only a few ingredients were left. We sat there so content and happy that we had eaten this very healthy meal. Even after I had been doing it for a while I still kept giggling and just loving the experience. I mean really I had never had a meal like this. It reminded me a lot of cheese or chocolate fondue, but other than those two dishes nothing else. I just felt proud of myself that I cooked my own meal (yes even though it was just boiling everything) and was able to feel like a little chef. Even though their was really nothing to this and it was all food I had had before this will go down as one of my favorite food experiences on the road. So basic yet so amazing that it makes everyone at the table interact with each other, share the foods and help each other out as well. I’d like to do this more often to feel like a little chef since I don’t know how to cook anything. I do hope that will change when I get home. I plan on having my mom teach me how to cook some good Mexican food. So anyway have you ever had a steamboat or anything similar to this? Did you enjoy the experience as much as I did? What other cultures have something similar to this?