Considered the stew of East Asian cuisines, hot pot consists of a metal pot with low boiling chicken or other flavored stock, surrounded with fresh ingredients ready to be cooked. Typical ingredients are tofu, thinly sliced meat, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, seafood, and meatballs. Hot pot gives the chef an unlimited access to different flavors, as almost any ingredient that can be boiled and eaten can change the flavor of the hotpot soup. There are also a variety of sauces that can be used for dip, and styles vary with country to country. A very simple idea, but extremely satisfying especially for cold days as the ingredients stay hot while eaten. As an afterthought, noodles can be added to the soup as it now consists of a multitude of delicious flavors from all the different ingredients. Serve the noodles with some hot pot ingredients, chopped onions and cilantro to enjoy noodles with an explosion of flavor!
VEGETABLES, MEATS, SEAFOOD
Beef rib eye (sliced thin)
Lamb (sliced thin)
Tofu (medium firm)
Chinese BBQ sauce
"Little Lamb" Hot pot sauce
Green Onions (4 chopped in half)
Garlic Cloves (about 10)
Udon noodles, or your choice of noodles
There's going to be a lot of washing to prepare the ingredients. First cut the very tips of the napa cabbage and the very bottom base as both sides likes to collect dirt from. Then rip off the individual leaves of the napa cabbage and wash everything very well. After washed, line a few leaves up and cut in four pieces like the picture shows until all the leaves are cut evenly.
Water crest stems should also be cut at the very bottom and washed thoroughly.
Same with spinach, cut the very bottom part of the stems, and wash as best you can.
Tip: I like to take some extra bags from the vegetable section in the grocery store for storing the washed veggies in separate bags.
Typically you will find these meats in an Asian market. Thinly pre-sliced meat. I like lamb and beef rib-eye but you can use whatever you want!
Fishballs and meatballs I like to wash and store in a ziplock bag.
Shiitake mushrooms should be washed well first, then cut the stem off and sliced in half into bite size pieces.
Tip: To easily wash these, just use scissors to cut the bottom part of the bag, discard the bottom, and then you can just rinse the enoki in the bag with running water and squeeze out the water a few times inside the bag.
Tofu should also be rinsed with water, and then cut in equal bite-sized cubes. Avoid soft tofu as they are more difficult to pick up from the hotpot once cooked.
Konnyaku on the left should also be quickly rinsed. Imitation sticks do not need to be washed.
Various ways to present all the ingredients.
I like to have them all in the same plate, makes it easier. The surplus of ingredients not used (and you will have a surplus), should be kept in the fridge in a bag or saran wrapped.
For the Chinese dipping sauce, I use minced up garlic, cilantro, Chinese bbq sauce, about equal parts of each, and mix it well together. I usually make a lot, about a cup full, and store in the fridge. When ready to eat, I take about a table spoon of the mixture, add some soy sauce and add just a bit of chili sauce and sesame oil.
You need a hotpot! Any will do, as long as it can heat up the broth on the table.
My favorite hotpot flavoring is "Little Lamb" hot pot spicy. This is a mongolian flavor and is the best! Follow the instructions of the packaging on how to prepare for the broth. I do not use up all the flavoring packets it comes with at once. I use maybe about 1/4 of it at a time. After a couple of hours of eating, you'll see the broth lower where you'll need to add more water. After adding more water, I add another 1/4 of the packet into the broth and so on once the broth depletes again.
Place all the plates around the hotpot and turn it on. Again, I use about 25% of the "Little Lamb" hotpot flavor packages to start and slowly add them over time with more water when the broth starts getting low.
Once the broth starts boiling, you can start putting in some of the ingredients. I usually start with the mushrooms and meats and save the veggies for later. The meats and mushrooms will create more flavor. But I'll also put in the meatballs and fishballs as those take a little longer to cook. Tofu can be put in anytime because they will not overcook. Be careful with the meats as they will cook fast and can be eaten within a minute once they brown! This is the best thing to eat on a cold day and will last you a long time, not to mention healthy from all the fresh ingredients.
Once you are done eating hotpot for a few days and the ingredients start to lessen, I liked to convert the hotpot into a noodle soup broth. I will strain the hotpot into a large pot to remove all the little pieces of food. I then boil the strained broth and add some more napa cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, fish/meatballs, and boil for a bout 5 minutes. Then I add the rest of the meats and let it boil for 30 seconds and turn off the heat. The broth is now ready for noodles.
I like udon with this broth but any noodles can be used. Cook the udon in boiling water according to the packaging instructions. Put the cooked udon noodles in a bowl and then add the hot broth! You can obviously use your other left over ingredients as well for your soup noodle. I will always have a lot of broth left over so I typically ladle some into tupperwares along with some of the cooked meats, veggies, fish/meatballs and let it cool a bit before freezing.
You can also add an egg if you want. Enjoy!