Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Hot Pot (serves 2)

There are many hot pot recipes. Some are classic and even then everyone has a version of his/her own. Some you make up as ingredients present themselves. While shopping at H-Mart (a Korean market located in Burlington, Massachusetts) I came across Kobe beef. When I saw the thin slices of the marbled meat all neatly placed in its package only one thought came to my mind, shabu shabu--Japanese hot pot. The first time I ate Kobe beef was in Japan in the late 90s. I was there with 3 nursing colleagues from the Mayo Clinic, to exchange nursing ideas. I remember presenting numerous talks and then our Japanese nursing colleagues would take us out to eat all sorts of delicious Japanese meals. One of the meals was a dinner held at a Japanese tea house that was exclusively for members only. We were invited there since a few of the members were top executives of a hospital we were visiting. The shabu shabu that night was amazing with so many different vegetables and melt in my mouth Kobe beef. Since then I don't think I have ever had shabu shabu that tasted as good.

My Teochew family often makes a hot pot using pork broth, vegetables, pork balls, shrimp balls, fish balls, etc. on birthdays, holidays, family reunions and other special occasions. My mother gave me an electric Korean party cooker and it's perfect for two people. Today I decided to make a special hot pot using a blend of Teochew and shabu shabu style. Use any kind of vegetables you prefer to put inside the pot. I listed the ones I used below. If you can obtain Kobe beef that would be good. However, if you do not have access to this then use any good beef and thinly slice it. I find it is easier to slice meat paper thin when the meat is partially frozen, by putting it in a freezer for about 25-30 minutes.

When eating, just add a little of the vegetables, meat, tofu, and noodles into the pot at a time. This way the food is cooking while you are eating. The beauty about using an electric pot is that you can adjust the heat. I find that it is useful to have a little strainer to scoop up some of the fragile items such as tofu. I prefer eating a hot pot among family and friends and not strangers. Once I attended a wedding and one of the many dishes served at that event was a hot pot. I find it a bit awkward since I did not know everyone at the table and not everyone has the same eating etiquette. Here are a few tips when eating from a communal pot: Anyone can add food to the pot not just one person. This way everyone gets to eat. When sharing a pot among people it is good to use a separate chopstick to scoop out the contents and not use your own eating utensils that you put in your mouth and now use to dip in the same pot. This is a shared meal so try to refrain from eating all the best items yourself. Perhaps there are others sitting at the same table who may like all the items that you like.



My Hot Pot (serves 2)

Pork and Kelp Broth

Ingredients:

3.5 lbs pork (leg) bones
70 grams dried kelp (you can use less but I want a strong taste), washed in cold water
4 quarts water
1 1/2 Tbsp miso paste
Fish sauce
Salt

Method:

Use a large pot (preferably 8 quart pot), add the bones and just enough water to cover. Boil for about 5-7 minutes. Remove the bones and wash each of them under cold water. Wash the pot well. Return the cleaned bones to the cleaned pot and add 4 quart water. Once the water boils turn the heat to medium and let the bones simmer for about 1 hour. Occasionally skim the impurities that float to the top and discard. Next add the kelp. Cook for about 1/2 hour. Skim and discard any impurities that float to the top. Remove and discard the kelp. Add miso paste. Season with fish sauce and salt to your taste. Strain the broth directly into the hot pot.

Hot Pot Contents

List of ingredients that I used:

Kobe beef (slices)
Udon noodles
Enoki mushrooms
King mushrooms
Napa cabbage (sliced into 1 inch widths)
Baby daikon (radish) leaves
Chrysanthemum leaves
Baby spinach leaves
Firm tofu (cut into cubes)
Onion (cut into wedges)
Scallions (green part only, cut into 1 inch lengths)

*It's good to buy extra food this way you will not run out. I keep the extra items prepared/washed and ready to be taken out and eat as soon as anything runs low. The worst thing about eating a hot pot is that after eating all the food you are still hungry.

Dip

Use what you prefer.
I like to use a little soy sauce with or without hot chili.

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