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  • Hui Hui Lee, RD/LD

Happy Lunar New Year




 (the photo shows vegetarian hotpot, was taken at Buddha Mind Monastery)

 

Happy lunar new year to my friends and family out there! This February, let’s try something new. Since it is the lunar new year, how about having a casual talk about a Chinese hotpot. Does anyone know what a Chinese hotpot is? Traditionally, Chinese culture believed hotpot is more than a delicious cuisine, it also has the symbolic meaning of harmonious community - reunion, flourishing life, and prosperity (Zhang, 2019). This hotpot meal is a very delicious, interesting, and fun communal eating experience where all food is cooked on the dining table. Typically, there is a large simmering pot of broth (cooked over a portable electric burner/butane stove) placed in the center of a dining table with a bunch of raw ingredients - which typically consist of some sort of proteins, vegetables, and starches. We flavor the food with dipping sauces of your choice (which my go-to sauce is chili oil and chinese sesame dipping sauce). Why do I love Chinese Hot Pot? 1) It is very easy to prepare.  2) We get to choose what we want to eat.   3) We get to interact with each other during the meal. This meal calls for all diners' attention and participation during mealtime.

It really takes no effort to prepare a delicious hotpot. All we need to do is rinse, cut/slice/chop the ingredients to bite size, and plate them on the serving plates. The food is then cooked on the table. ALSO, we do not need any fancy equipment/tool to make this meal (we just need a portable burner, a large and deep enough soup pot, and several ladles). Over the last 2 months, I have tried preparing hotpot with several friends/coworkers here at work on different occasions. So far, most of the feedback I received was very positive. They like it not just because it is delicious, but also healthy and filling. In my opinion, hotpot can also be a great “tool” for younger kids learning about food, by getting them involved in the cooking process (the tip here is to make sure they are not starving before the mealtime). 

If you are planning to add something (food) new in 2024, I highly recommend this hotpot meal to you!

 

Here’s the suggestions for the ingredients, but again you choose whatever ingredients based on your preferences/budgets

 

Broth (can be prepared from scratch or getting the store-bought soup base)

➔      Clear broth: beef broth, chicken broth, mushroom broth (feel free to add some fresh ginger slices, green onion, garlic infused oil, and shiitake mushrooms), tomato soup base, Japanese-style pork broth

➔      Spicy broth: Sichuan style (red oil broth), Thai style (tom yum soup)

***please refer to the Woks of life for the suggestions of hotpot soup base.

 

Proteins

➔      Thinly sliced beef (flank steak, sirloin)/chicken/pork

➔      Meatballs

➔      Sliced fish filets

➔      Seafood (shrimp, squid/cuttlefish, scallops)

➔      Tofu

➔      Fresh tofu sheets/skin

➔      Soy puff

➔      Dried bean curd rolls (cooked for 20-30 seconds)

 

Vegetables/fungi

➔      Leafy greens:

◆      Napa cabbage

◆      Baby bok choy

◆      Choy sum

◆      Water spinach

➔      Other vegetables:    

◆      Lotus root

◆      Potatoes.

◆      Kombucha squash/pumpkin

◆      Corn

◆      Daikon radish

➔      Fungi/mushrooms

◆      Shiitake mushrooms

◆      Enoki mushrooms

◆      Oyster mushrooms

◆      King trumpet mushrooms

◆      Kelp (rehydrate)

◆      Black wood ears (rehydrate)

 

Starches

◆      Noodles (ramen noodle, fresh spinach noodle, )

◆      Fresh sliced rice cakes

◆      Mung bean vermicelli

◆      Dumplings/wontons (store bought or homemade)

 

Dipping sauces (mix and match of your choice)

◆      Base (that’s where you start out with): chinese sesame paste (or Tahini), peanut butter, soy sauce, ShaCha (chinese BBQ sauce)

◆      Other components of the sauce: sesame oil, SiChuan peppercorn oil, chili oil, Chinese black Vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar), toasted peanuts (chopped), toasted sesame seed, green onion (sliced), fresh garlic (minced), cilantro (chopped).

 

***Here are some of the pictures I took when we had hotpot meals on different occasions.



(the photo was taken when I had hotpot with coworker at lunch)

 

 



(the photo was taken when I had hotpot with family during first day of lunar new year)

 

 

 

Reference

Zhang, T. (2019). Chinese Hotpot: a Communal food culture (from mentalism and materialism perspectives). Retrieved from https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/9c3a733c1411400e9f80310fa8b65a9e

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