What better way to ring in the New Year than with our first post!
Frosty winter days call for hot chocolate or a warm blanket in front of a fire. December 31st was no exception and brought forth images of a meaty stew or a steaming cup of soup. Keeping up with tradition, however, hot pot was on the menu and I wasn’t about to complain.
Growing up in a Chinese household, hot pots have replaced many a Thanksgiving and Christmas for our family. Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and turkey were rare treats. A bit sad for some? Maybe. But the conviviality of cooking with family and friends around a common pot – adding your choice of meats or sides at will – is hard to beat. With a little preparation and good company, a hearty dinner is served with no one stuck in the kitchen doting over a turkey in the oven.
All you need is an electric pot or a portable heat source and large pot. We normally use the Zojirushi electric pan. Fill the pot 3/4 of the way up with water or a broth of your choice. The ingredients you choose will end up flavouring the soup base. Bring the water or broth to a boil and you’re ready to start cooking! Pre-sliced cuts of meat are usually available at Asian supermarkets (if not, slice your meats as thinly as possible).
Seafood (oysters, shrimp, scallops), mushrooms, tofu, noodles, and vegetables (bok choy, choy sum, and even lettuce) – are just a handful of suggestions. Everything is cooked fondue-style with either chopsticks or slotted spoons so all you need to watch out for is the cooking time. The condiments are almost as endless as the ingredients. Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, satay sauce, vinegar or raw egg are all popular choices and can be combined as desired.
A perfect meal for a chilly New Year’s Eve or a cool autumn’s night – whichever comes first!