Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hot Pot At Home

Dumplings and soba noodles boiling in the pot!

The Fondue Pot: Hubby brought this small appliance from his bachelor life into our marriage. Ever since he made me cheese fondue for our first Valentine's Day, I have loved this fondue pot. It makes great meals...cheese fondue, chocolate fondue, and yes, even Chinese "hot pot."

When I was growing up we used to celebrate Chinese New Year at my grandparents' house and have hot pot for dinner, using butane camping stoves atop numerous card tables with metal folding chairs set up around them in their basement. Boiling pots of broth with plates full of raw meats and vegetables, all to be cooked up and fished out of the pot with small gold mesh strainers with long handles. Such fun and fond memories with family.

Now, a few times a year, we try to re-create the experience at our home, but most of the time, there aren't 30 other people in the room around card tables. It's usually just us two and our fondue pot.

I add chicken stock (homemade) to the pot with a splash of soy sauce and some diced green onions. Then I wash, cut and gather all the goodies:

This time I had baby bok choy and broccolini from my CSA box (upper left corner).

I buy pork and beef already sliced at the Asian market. You can also get ready-made fishballs or meatballs there. Then I wash and cut up any combination of baby bok choy, broccoli, and napa cabbage or lettuce. Cut up firm tofu into inch-sized cubes, and this time, I got some frozen dumplings and soba noodles to add to the mix.

Then you just set the table with sauces like soy, chili garlic paste, vinegar, hoisin, and/or whatever else you might have that's Asian in your condiment collection.

The rolling boil of the soup tells you it's ready to dump in the food - a little at a time, and when it's cooked, you fish it out with a strainer or a slotted spoon or tongs (you can see, I have no cute little strainers). Use little dishes to make a mix of condiments and then dip the cooked meat and veggies into the sauce and eat it up! You can serve it with rice or without. This makes a really fun dinner and a great way to use the fondue pot in a different way!

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