When the weather starts getting colder in our house it signifies hot pot season. Though hot pot sounds really foreign it is just a simmering pot of soup or strew. Hot pot is an Asian method of cooking, and consists of a continuously simmering pot of soup, into which thinly sliced vegetables and meats are placed and cooked in a rich broth.
Our hot pots usually consist of wontons, mushrooms, thinly sliced carrot, cabbage and delicious broth. Our broth sometimes includes ginger but often is just plain. I love some green onion as well. Our Asian market also sells particular prepared ingredients for hot pot including the thinly sliced meat and many seafood options like fish balls and dumplings. The ingredients of your own hot pot are endless, and this type of cooking allows some individuality of your meal.
Broth is typically made using a rich stock, or using water and a soup base. If you choose a low sodium broth, you can make this even more healthy, though the dish in itself is a very healthy meal full of vegetables and leaner meats, or seafood. This is also a very low cost meal to make.
Different broths and meats are used in different regions of China, Japan, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam. In Japan and Taiwan the hot pot is referred to as Shabu-Shabu and often contains sea kelp.
Our hot pot is a simple one chambered pot that is electric. Over a thousand years ago, hot pots were heated with coal, over a low burning fire. Some hot pots are heated with butane, and some pots are sectioned off, allowing different broths to boil at the same time. Some broths are very spicy, and contain chili, and some are mild. Some hot pots contain a rice or other type of noodle, and some do not. The Cantonese version of hot pot uses a raw egg stirred into the hot broth. The possibilities with hot pot are endless.
You can fake a hot pot if you don't have one! It is really easy to make your own. Select a pot that has shallow sides. The larger your pot, the longer it will take to boil your broth. Wide and shallow pots work the best for this. The sides should be shallow allowing ingredients to be easily added and retrieved. Using an electric heating plate set your pot on the burner, add prepared broth, and begin the heating process. To avoid extra cleanup work, prepare broth in the pot before heating. I use a powdered soup/bouillon base to do this. I follow the directions on the package, and add ginger, scallions or garlic as we desire. When your broth has reached a boil, add your ingredients. Some choose to add all at once, but I prefer adding select ingredients at different intervals. When ingredients are cooked through, remove and serve, topped with broth from the hot pot. As you dip out broth for serving, you will need to add more to the cooking vessel.
This is a great way to liven up soup night! What are your favorite hot pot ingredients?
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