Monday, September 13, 2010

Chinese Cooking Basics: No Work Meal

Summer is sadly over, but I'm looking forward to the cold weather so I can have shabu shabu (Japanese term), or hot pot (what we Chinese call 火鍋). This brings back such warm memories of my time in Hong Kong enjoying this with my family. Hot pot is as traditional and basic as it gets and it's super easy. It's a no fuss, intimate meal that can be fun for two or a large family. Your guests do their own cooking in a boiling pot of broth (or two pots for a large family). All you need to do is wash the veggies ahead of time!

What you'll need at least are:
  • equipment: an electric soup pot (I imagine a slow cooker set on high might work), chopsticks and small chinese spiders
  • soup base (chicken broth would suffice)
  • mushrooms
  • vegetables (Chinese leafy greens or nappa cabbage will do)
  • rice vermicelli
  • tofu
  • dipping sauce: soy sauce or any other concoction
After you've got your basics figured out, it's pretty much up to you. You can have some thinly sliced meat (so it cooks faster), seafood...the sky is the limit. Cook whatever you want in the pot, dip it in some soy sauce, and enjoy. We were lucky enough to have king crab and wagyu beef when we attended a soft opening of my friend's shabu shabu joint in Flushing, Queens a while ago. It was yummy!

I absolutely loved their broth, and you can make your own dipping sauce at their bar. The service was attentive - they came around a few times to add more liquid to our pots when it got cooked down. They have beer, all types of appetizers, sides, bubble tea, shaved name it. Try shabu shabu at home, or go out and try it at a shabu shabu joint
above are photos from our meal at Minni's Shabu Shabu). Either way, it will definitely warm you up.

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