Sunday, September 28, 2008

Eating Healthy at Healthy Shabu Shabu

The Healthy Shabu Shabu branch at Shangri-la mall recently invited media people and their kids to a Kids' Workshop on learning the basics of eating shabu shabu or the Japanese variant of the Chinese hotpot. Shabu shabu, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a Japanese dish consisting of thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked briefly in simmering broth at the table. The word "shabu shabu" itself is said to refer to the sound of the ingredients as they are swished back and forth in the water or broth.

In her welcome message, owner Candy Hwang explained that making children eat healthy and finding eating places outside the house for them is proving to be quite a challenge for parents these days. Hwang, who is a mother of two kids herself, stressed the importance of developing a healthy eating habit among children by bringing them to dining places that encourage them to eat healthier food.

"Letting them prepare their own food, like what we do in Healthy Shabu Shabu, is a good experience that instills in them some of the basics of good nutrition. We can teach them about balanced eating, high and low calorie meals, low-cholesterol foods, and nutritious yet tasty meals," explains Hwang.

Hwang views the cooking involved in their restaurant as an interactive activity that allows kids to choose which next ingredient to put into the boiling pot.

The workshop proper was facilitated by Vicky Barrera, mother of three and owner of Tiny Kitchen. The first step involved choosing which shabu shabu platter to have, namely: the vegetable platter, and the seafood platter and the optional high protein diet from the beef and lamb platter. Barrera started off by asking the kids present at the tablet to identify the ingredients to be cooked before them. From the vegetable platter, the kids corectly identified the green (or Baguio petchay) and white Chinese cabbage; black mushroom and carrots and tomato, along with the beancurd, meatballs, and crops such as sweet corn and yam. From the seafood platter, the kids identified the shrimp, squid, mussels, sea cucumber, and fish. The platters come with a serving of noodles: vermicelli or the flat white egg noodle.

With white aprons around their waists, the participants and guests learned that the secret to having a perfect shabu shabu was in knowing how to boil which ingredients first, without overcooking any of them. For the vegetable platter, for one, Barrera advised the eager and hungry guests to put the sweet corn and yam first since they need the longer cooking period to soften. One could then eventually add pieces of the leaf vegetables and beancurd along with the meatballs and beancurd (ingredients should not be left boiling for more than 30 seconds). The vermicelli noodles should follow next, which should be boiled not longer than 20 seconds. To make the soup flavorful, one should add in the shrimp, squid, mussels, sea cucumber. The fish should not be boiled for more than a minute. The egg noodles were added last though by that time, the participants were already busy eating their fill of the cooked ingredients that were dipped in a barbecue sauce made from chopped garlic, onion, chili, special base sauce and spices.

But are the pots safe for the kids? I did try touching the surface of one pot and was surprised that it was not hot to the touch even as the ingredients were boiling. The attending waiter said that the pots were made of special material to ensure that skin burns arising from accidental touching of the surface of the pots would not occur (just do not turn silly and dip your finger into the boiling water). Hwang stressed that their restaurants use electric stoves controlled by a remote instead of the traditional LPGs and with the cords neatly tucked from sight.

After having our fill of the shabu shabu meal that lunch time, we were treated to black gulaman halo halo for dessert. And my Nanay (Mom to you zozi creatures), who I brought along, obviously, could not be happier!

Healthy Shabu Shabu has branches at Powerplant Mall (Tel. No 898.3979/895.6300), The Podium (Tel. Nos. 914.1028-29), SM Mall of Asia (Tel. Nos. 556.0354-55), Robinsons Galleria (Tel. Nos. 633.1979/632.1634), SM North The Block (Tel. Nos. 442.0036-37), Alabang Town Center (Tel Nos. 850.6633/850.6976), Robinsons Midtown (Tel. Nos. 526.2981/529.3983) and Shangri La Plaza Mall (Tel Nos. 910.3272/632.7532).

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