Pre-Hotpot

I used to think that I’d want to live in the mountains. After this week, I’m not sure if that’s such a good idea only because it’s been ridiculously cold for the past few days and I can only tolerate so much of it! Tonight, it was around 17 degrees F and factoring in the windchill, it was around 2 degrees. Thank god for indoor heating.

But the tradeoff is that living here is amazingly beautiful and serene.We live about 180m above sea level, which is a puny figure (to put into perspective, Washington Square Park in NYC is 6m above sea level), but nonetheless, I’ve always lived near sea level. I love driving around the narrow winding roads that give way to a glimpse of all the tiny snow covered houses below. And of course, I love staring at the cows in the dairy farm next door.

beef and lamb

Speaking of cow, it was the best part of hotpot tonight. My parents may not be the most enthusiastic about dining out, but they go all out at home, and that especially seems to have been a trend recently. In preparation of hot pot, my mom bought cuts of beef, pork belly, lamb, and chicken as well as a plethora of other tasty ingredients when we went to NYC.

lighting the hotpot

HAHA! Notice now the screws are facing up. It’s upside down! We realized after the hotpot failed to boil…

But before I get too ahead of myself, for anyone who hasn’t had hotpot, it’s like having a little pow-wow around a boiling hot pot of this wonderful broth. You add raw meat, vegetables, seafood, noodles, and whatever else to the simmering pot so that by the end of it, you get a broth that has soaked up all the rich flavors from the raw ingredients. We have hot pots like tonight because during and even after the meal, you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. People have been doing it for over 1000 years supposedly.

fishballs
Some other things on the menu tonight include fish balls, which I’m personally not a big fan of…

chicken and pork
Pork and chicken- the latter which may sound a bit weird, but really isn’t

Hotpot reminds me a bit of galbi (Korean BBQ) since it’s such an interactive meal. But unlike galbi, which takes several minutes to grill, the meat cooks through within 15-30 seconds.

mushrooms
Of course, button mushrooms are also a must. We love to let them cook in the hotpot for several minutes because they soften up and soak up the flavor from the broth the best.

full hotpot

Speaking of broth, there are tons of recipes, but we usually use a bit of water, salt, and heaping spoonfuls of concentrated chili sauce (specifically used for hotpot) that you can find at your local asian store.

hotpot!

For vegetables, people generally use:

  • Bok choy
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Bean Sprouts

We just use whatever greens are in the fridge.

not complete without champagne

I wouldn’t suggest bubbly with hotpot. That didn’t go too well. Perhaps beer? We had so much meat left over that we’re going to have to do another hotpot tomorrow night (it’s supposed to be even colder tomorrow anyway!) so we’ll try it with beer then.

sesame peanut sauce

There are also usually sides of dipping sauces that include but are not limited to:

  • Soy Sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Vinegar

I like mixing a bit of sesame paste and peanut butter to drizzle over the cooked sliced meat. I’m not sure if that’s normal though…

the near end
Leftovers to add onto the still packaged meat that we couldn’t use up today!

So where can you get yourself one of these nifty contraptions for home use? Why, Amazon, of course! It’s the same pot used for shabu-shabu (Japanese hot pot) and although this one is a bit pricey at $59, it’s electric. We have an old school hot pot that runs on propane gas, which you can pick up at any Asian grocer. Technically, it’s cheaper to use electric because each can of propane costs around $2 and last for 1.5 hotpots. The disadvantage of electric, however, is that it takes longer to heat.