February 15, 2010

I couldn’t think of a better way to start off the new year with friends or family for a Chinese Hot Pot dinner.  I did it with my coworkers last year. They never had Chinese hot pot before.  It was so much fun.  All you need is a portable stove, a big shallow pot filled with water.  That’s it.  You can have whatever meat, seafood or veggies as you like. You just need to slice the meat or fish, wash the veggie and that’s all for the prepartion.  When the pot of water is boiled. Everyone cooks his own food in the pot.  Since the water doesn’t have any seasoning, everyone needs to make his own dipping sauce. You can imagine this is a super healthy meal, no oil, no fuzz. 

Oh, I need to mention the rules:

  1. You don’t put all the ingredients in the pot.  You cook what you want to eat yourself (ya, don’t worry about your bf or gf) a little bit at a time.  You eat it, you chat more, then you go back to cook more food.  Got it?
  2. Use serving utensils/chopsticks to cook the food. No sticking your own fork or chopsticks in the pot unless no one cares about it.
  3. When you put the food in the pot, you are responsible for keeping an eye on it.  If not, any food left in the pot is in shared pool.  Anyone can eat it. That’s right, you snooze you lose!
  4. Make your own dipping  sauce.  Everyone has different likings. Don’t expect someone will serve you.
Chinese Hot Pot
Chinese Hot Pot

Uncooked Ingredients Serves 5-6 (This is only a suggestion, you can really prepare whatever you like):

  • Thinly sliced beef, 3/4 pound
  • Sliced chicken, 1/2 pound
  • Shrimp, peeled and devined, 3/4 pound
  • Fish filet, 1/2 pound (can be any white fish like tile fish, tilapia, or even salmon)
  • Oyster, 1/2 pound
  • Squid, cleaned, 1/2 pound
  • Dumplings or wontons, a dozen
  • Tofu, 1 pack
  • Fish balls, 1 bag (about a dozen)
  • Japanese Enoki mushrooms, 1 bag
  • Fresh Shaiitake mushrooms, 1 bag
  • Noodles, 2 bag (could use udon noodles, ramen noodles, clear cellphane noodles or  shirataki miracle noodles)
  • Leafy vegetables, a big bunch, washed (can be Chinese bok choy or others, or even regular lettuce)

Preparation (prepare each of them and put them aside):

  1. For all the meat, slice them thinly.
  2. For seafood such as fish or squid, cut them into big chuncks about 3 x 1.5 inches
  3. Wash all the vegetable.
  4. Cut Tofu into big cubes: 2×2 inches
  5. For the enoki mushroom. Cut off the bottom root part of the bunch of mushroom.  For the shaiitake mushrooms, just wash them and keep them as whole pieces.

Setting the table for dinner:

  1. Put the portable cooker (could be gas or electric) in the middle of the table.
  2. Use a shallow pot and fill it up with 70% of water.  Put it on the portable cooker.
  3. Put the food around the portable cooker.
  4. For each person, place a plate and a small bowl (for dipping sauce), two pairs of chopsticks or forks (one for cooking, one for eating, see Rules#2).
  5. Prepare a few ladles for scoping off the food. 

Setting the sauce station on a side table or in the kitchen(These are suggested sauce. You can use whatever). You can have:

  • Soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Chinese BBQ sauce (very different from western BBQ sauce)
  • Sesame oil
  • Chilli sauce or hot oil
  • Chopped garlic
  • Chopped onion

Dinner time:

  1. Everyone prepare his own dipping sauce first.
  2. Put the tofu and a few fish balls in the pot.  These could be common food that are sharable to start with.  Use high heat of the portable cooker. Boil the water.
  3. When the water boils, that means the fish balls are ready. Everyone can start making his own food. 
  4. Have fun. Remember, you snooze you lose. Keep an eye on your own food!

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