Happy Chinese New Year! Today the Year of the Dog begins.
I’ve posted some of my mom’s recipes and some that I enjoy, but today I’m going to talk about something my dad loves.
See, my dad was raised in Hong Kong. He lives and breathes Chinese food. All year long, but especially in the winter, his favorite thing is something called hot pot. It literally involves a hot pot.
The way he explains is that it gets cold and dry in the winter, so families take a hot pot of the water, put it in a room, put everyone in that room, and then everyone cooks their own food in the pot. No only does it get people together, it provides much needed warmth and humidity. So on a cold winter day (let’s face it, cold in Southern California is in the sixties), my dad likes hot pot.
Hot pot starts with a pot of hot water. This needs to be set up on something that will keep the pot hot, some kind of burner or something similar.
Here are a couple:
And of course you need baskets of some kind to cook the food. The food goes right into the basket and the basket is immersed in the hot water.
So, what, exactly, do you cook?
First, start with a soup. My parents usually start cooking on the stove. They fill a pot with water and a large mason jar full of homemade chicken broth. My dad likes vegetables, so some bok choy and fuzzy melon get added. This is brought to a boil and then poured into the hot pot.
While the soup cooks, everything else is prepared. We always had some very thin slices of beef, pork, and chicken (they must be as thin as possible otherwise it’ll take forever to cook!); blocks of tofu; glass noodles (these are thin, clear, and slippery); and shrimp and scallops. Basically, any food that can cook quickly is good for hot pot.
Once the food is ready, it’s time to cook and eat. Just make sure you keep track of your basket! Growing up, we always had some interesting mishaps, but there was always plenty of food and it never took long to cook.
Now that you’re cooking, sit back and enjoy the company. This can last a few hours.
Happy New Year!