last saturday we were invited to a family friend's house for a traditional chinese hot pot dinner. hot pot is eaten all throughout china and most parts of asia year-round, but more often eaten in the winter, which makes sense, because i would definitely associate it more with sitting around a fire and comfort food.
hot pot traditionally consists of of a metal simmering pot of stock at the center of the dining room table. while the pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and cooked at the table.
some the food our wonderful hostess had ready for our hot pot:
very thinly sliced beef
very thinly sliced chicken
pork and shrimp HOMEMADE dumplings - i couldn't get enough of these!
prawns - also one of my favs
japanese radish - so good and even sweet once it's been simmering for a while
cellophane noodles - only took 10 seconds to cook
poached eggs (an egg is cracked into a bowl then gently placed into the pot)
baby bok choy - our only veggie, but it was SOOO good!
condiments like soy sauce
two VERY yummy dipping sauces, which can only be found in china
i guess hot pot can be done a variety of different ways, but we each cooked our own food by choosing what we wanted from the round turnstile tabletop, placing it into our round metal wire net, and immersing it into the pot until cooked. then used the condiments and sauces for seasoning.
it was definitely not a 'scarf your dinner down' kind of dining experience. it was a dinner conducive to great conversation and really taking time to sit down with family and friends. although i must say, our dear hostess was more than a bit disappointed at how 'little' we ate (which is very relative term, because i felt like we ate for two hours straight at least, and i for one, ate enough for two!) - apparently when her children get together for hot pot around the holidays, they really put it away! she wasn't terribly impressed with the size of our 'american' stomachs. :)
for dessert, we merged two cultures and had apple pie homemade by my dear mother in law sue - still the best apple pie i've ever tasted!