The weekends are too short and they go by too quickly! Even though I am home most of the time, I still look forward to the weekends because it is a break from my crazy schedule and a time to bond with family and friends. Saturdays are just the best! It is a day to sleep in a little and have a nice leisurely breakfast followed by a short excursion to somewhere interesting. Cooking is kept to a minimum with simple lunches and dinners or eating outside.
A great meal to enjoy during the weekends is the Chinese fondue or hot pot. This is a social meal and is very popular for family and social gatherings. Many families have the tradition of preparing the hot pot for their Chinese New Year Eve feast. Everyone sits around table cooking their own food. This promotes interaction and bonding.
Another name for the hotpot is “steamboat” in parts of Southeast Asia. I don’t exactly know where the name is derived from but there is definitely a lot of steam coming from the food being cooked at the table in the boiling broth. Perhaps it is due in part to the traditional vessel used which has a funnel in the center to allow the smoke from the burning charcoal at the base to emit. It does kind of remind one of a ship or boat’s funnel.
This meal is simple to prepare and cooking is kept to a minimum with the simmering of the broth. All other ingredients can be purchased or made ahead. There are many variations to the soup from mild to spicy. This is one that I remember from childhood prepared by my Grand Aunt during a large family gathering. I added a little goji berries to give the broth some specks of color. Except for the broth, no measurements of the other ingredients are given because you can prepare as much or as little as desired.
- 2 chicken carcasses
- 10 cups (2.4 liters) water
- 5 Napa cabbage leaves, sliced
- 1 tbsp goji berries, rinse and soak for 10 minutes, then drained
- Salt and pepper
- Thinly sliced beef, pork, chicken
- Fish, shrimps, squid, scallops
- Meatballs, fish sticks, fish cakes
- Dumplings, wontons
- Tofu, tofu skin, mushrooms, eggs
- Rice noodles, glass noodles, egg noodles
- Napa cabbage, baby bok choy, choy sum, gai lan, garland chrysanthemum
- Soy sauce
- Garlic chili sauce
- Hoisin sauce
- Sesame oil
Bring water in a large pot to a boil. Add chicken carcasses, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1½ hours. Skim off scum appearing on the surface.
Remove chicken carcasses with a slotted spoon. Add Napa cabbage and goji berries. Simmer for another 10 minutes until Napa cabbage is very soft. Turn off heat and transfer broth to an electric fondue pot or deep skillet until about half full. Do not over fill as food will be added to the broth at the table.
Set a bowl, small wire strainer, and dipping sauces for each place setting. Arrange all other ingredients into different bowls around the electric pot at the table.
Bring broth to a boil. Add small portions of desired ingredients into broth and simmer till cook.
Dish into individual serving bowls with slotted spoon or small wire strainer. Dip cooked food into sauces and enjoy.
When cooked food have been distributed, repeat until everyone has had their fill. Top up with more broth when necessary.
Noodles are normally added towards the end when the broth is most flavorful after cooking all the other ingredients.
Homemade meatballs…recipe link at the bottom of this page.
Store bought shrimp balls can be found at the frozen section of Asian markets.
Deep fried tofu are available at the refrigerated section of Asian grocery stores.
Glass noodles come dried and needs to be soaked for about 30 minutes to soften.
Here are the links to the other goodies that will be delicious in the hot pot. Just click on the picture to get to the post.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8)