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Chinese hot pot!

I just wanted to share these photos of the Chinese hot pot dinner I just had with a bunch of chowhound friends. Growing up, my family had hot pot on Christmas day, without fail. Since leaving home, my only hot pot fix was going back to my mom's place in Chicago. I don't know why it's taken me so many years to have hot pot at my own home, but this was the year. So I went out and bought the biggest electric skillet I could find and invited my chowbuds. Everyone brought an ingredient (or two or three!) and I supplied the pork broth (made from 5 pounds of pork bones, some green onions and a bit of ginger), sauces and other condiments. And being hounds, of course, my friends source some fantastic stuff from local butchers and markets.

We had:

Proteins:
- two types of pork loin (Berkshire and Tamworth?)
- sirloin steak
- ribeye steak
- organic shrimp
- "regular" shrimp
- fried tofu
- kamaboku

Veggies:
- gai lan
- baby bok choi
- napa cabbage
- green onions
- king oyster mushrooms
- enoki mushrooms
- some other, unidentified asian mushroom

Sauces:
- my mom's hot pot sauce (Chinese BBQ - sa cha jiang - mixed soy sauce and sugar)
- a Taiwanese spicy hot pot sauce from a jar
- Chinese mustard sauce
- a basic soy/black vinegar/sesame oil/honey mix

Add ons (mostly for the soup at the end of the meal):
- minced garlic
- minced ginger
- chopped chiles
- chopped scallions
- raw eggs

To drink, we had 3 different types of sake. The junmai was the clear winner with the meal itself, while the daiginjo was perfect for after-dinner sipping. It was such an easy and fun dinner and was perfect on a snowy night in Toronto. I can't recommend sharing this type of meal enough -- warms the body and soul!

Oops, sorry for the sideways images. I have no idea how to rotate them on Chowhound.

 
 
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  1. Oh my, what a beautiful table! You know, hot pot has been on my to-do list for years and I still haven't done it. I'm saving your post and gorgeous pictures to serve as inspiration.
    We love fondue and raclette meals so I know what you mean about the shared experience being rich.
    I feel a craving coming on... :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Nicolette S

      Oddly enough, I had a raclette dinner at friends' house two nights later. I think there is something about winter that makes us gravitate towards these shared meals. Soooo nice!

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. TJ... do you happen to know of a good resource for Hot Pot recipes? I gave my brother 4 dinners around the world for his Christmas present, and next weekend is Chinese, and I'm thinking Hot Pot would be fun and different. I've never had it before, so I would need recipes for the broth, and some of the sauces too. Your post is a great starting point for me! Would scallion pancakes be good dipped in the broth too, do you think?

        4 Replies
        1. re: Katie Nell

          I don't know of any web sites, sorry! But for the broth, I did a pork broth, which couldn't be simpler:

          5 - 6 pounds of pork bones
          small piece of ginger
          whites from a bunch of green onions

          Cover with water. Simmer gently, skim the scum.

          I don't think scallion pancakes would be work very well, as they are meant to be fried and crispy. Boiled pancakes don't sound very appealing. Though they would be a nice side dish!

          Nice gift, by the way!

          1. re: Katie Nell

            KN,

            My hot pot recipe is even easier, I combine boxed chicken stock and water in a large pot on the stove. I add big crushed pieces of ginger, scallions and garlic and I let that simmer to let the flavors infuse the stock. Once this happens, I add chopped up napa cabbage and let that briefly simmer to get the whole thing started. Napa always takes a bit longer to cook and this way people can start eating it as they wait for the water to reboil in the electric skillet. I also keep this stock simmering on the stove so I can then refill the skillet with it. If you don't do this, be sure to have boiling water ready to refill the skillet. The worst is waiting for water to boil (my personal nemesis).

            My dishes are also simpler:

            Beef (thinly sliced that I buy pre-sliced from a Japanese grocery store)
            shrimp
            calamari
            little neck clams
            fish pieces
            tofu
            assorted mushrooms
            assorted chinese greens, usually tong hua and watercress
            rice vermicelli (pre-soaked so it doesn't soak up all the broth)
            shandong noodles

            To go in my sauce, I usually have an assortment of:

            soy sauce
            sesame oil
            chinese bbq (sa cha)
            hot oil or salted chiles or other hot sauces

            fresh raw eggs (one egg goes into each sauce. It prevents the eater from burning his/her tongue)

            chopped up scallions/garlic
            sesame paste (thinned)

            Some people also have white rice but that's overkill for me.

            1. re: beetlebug

              Thanks for your take on it beetlebug! I'm a little nervous about it just because I've never had Hot Pot, but I was starting to get overwhelmed with the idea of cooking multiple Chinese dishes and having them ready at the same time, as I'm not a fast cook. This seems more manageable to me, as it just seems like a lot of chopping!

              1. re: Katie Nell

                Katie Nell -- don't feel overwhelmed! There actually aren't many dinners that are much easier than a hot pot dinner. There is actually no "cooking" involved at all. It's literally a pot of hot broth and plates of raw ingredients. You can make the broth as far in advance as you'd like and freeze it. All the meats, veggies and sauces can be prepped in advance. The meats can easily be done the day before, or even better, if you have a good Asian grocery store near you, you can often buy meats pre-sliced for hot pot. Most veggies can also be washed and cut the day before and just stored in big zip lock bags. And note that veggies don't even need to be chopped fine -- in fact, big is better because you don't want to lose them in the broth. The sauces can be made last minute or a couple of days in advance and stored in containers.

                All the "cooking" is done by your guests sitting around the table, picking their ingredients and putting them into the hot pot of broth.

                I hope that helps put your mind at ease!

          2. Great pics. This reminded me of a friend's experience at a local Chinese restaurant; she'd never had a hot pot, so she asked the server (who spoke minimal English) what it was. The server's response: "Pot. Keeps food hot."

            1. We had hot pot the other week at my friend's house (she's from Singapore and is Chinese-Malaysian). It was fantastic. She made a spicy Sichuan broth. She also put frozen dumplings in there, along with the meat/prawns/tofu/mushrooms/'veggies etc, which worked well. And at the end we had bean thread noodles soaked then cooked in the broth, which had absorbed all the various flavours by then. Scrumptious.

              1 Reply
              1. re: greedygirl

                I grew up eating Sichuan style hot pot on average more than a dozen times a year. The broth used in Sichuan hotpot is a huge pot of chili oil mixed with various kind of dry herbs and spices.

                I've cut down a lot ever since I moved to the States but I still crave for it lot throughout the year. Just thinking of it is making me drool :)

                Here are some pic I took from earlier this year. I made half spicy and half clear both. The dipping sauces minced garlic with sesame oil and my special peanut sesame sauce.