Hot for the Hot Pot

iStock-856152268_hot-pot-crop

Every Christmas, my family pairs the traditional American prime-rib, turkey or ham dinner with a hot-pot meal (my mama also supplies a buffet of egg noodles laced with savory garlic oil, steamed crab legs and shrimp, and blanched Chinese broccoli). With the holidays just around the corner (gasp) and in excitement for the arrival of sweater weather here in Colorado, I thought I’d share my mama’s recipe.

Dubbed “suki” by in Thailand after “sukiyaki,” the name of the dish’s Japanese variation, our hot pot typically encompasses a simmering pot of stock (or two, if we have more than five guests) surrounded by platters overflowing with thinly sliced meats and poultry, seafood, leafy vegetables, wontons stuffed with seasoned ground pork and cellophane noodles.

Participants — armed with chopsticks, small plates, bowls and Chinese soup spoons and wire strainers — immerse the ingredients of their choice into the broth and cook it to their liking. Everyone also receives a beaten egg to dip their ingredients in before immersing them in broth, and my mama serves her special version of the hot-and-zesty sauce (reminiscent of a dip featured at hot-pot restaurants in Thailand) on the side.

Try your own hot pot with this recipe — it could become a tradition!
(Serves 4–6; double for additional guests)

Hot Pot or Sukiyaki

Ingredients:

10 cups chicken stock or any broth of your choice
1 or 2 lumps of Chinese rock sugar (available at your local Asian market) or 1 tbsp. regular sugar
4 oz. dried cellophane noodles, soaked and cut in half
1 lb. leafy Asian greens, cut into bite-sized pieces (we use bok choy or Chinese cabbage)
1/2 lb. thinly sliced chicken, marinated with soy sauce, black pepper, sugar, and a splash of rice wine
1/2 lb. thinly sliced beef or lamb (or both!), marinated with soy sauce, black pepper, sugar, and a splash of rice wine
1/2 lb. thinly sliced pork, marinated with soy sauce and black pepper
4–6 small squids, cut into bite-sized pieces
12 shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied
4–6 eggs, depending on how many people are eating
Hot-and-zesty dipping sauce (recipe follows)

Method:

Arrange the meats, seafood, vegetables and noodles on platters. Place an electric wok, Mongolian hot pot or Chinese firepot in the center of your table, fill it with broth and bring it to a boil with the sugar. Once you’re ready to eat, reduce the broth to a simmer. Give each guest an egg with a bowl to scramble it in and start dipping. My family always puts all of the noodles and vegetables in at once to season the broth and share, but guests can do that individually, as well.

Hot-and-Zesty Dipping Sauce

3 minced Thai chiles
3 tbsp. minced garlic
3 tbsp. minced cilantro stems
4 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. rice vinegar
4 tbsp. fish sauce
3 tbsp. Sriracha
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Pulse the first three ingredients in a food processor or blender until the cilantro stems are broken down (you can also crush them with a mortar and pestle). Then add the sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, Sriracha and lime and pulse it another couple times until combined. Then add the sesame oil and chopped cilantro leaves and adjust the flavor to your personal taste (add more lime, sugar, Sriracha, etc.).

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Helpful Tips:

  • Make sure you provide a large ladle, so guests can dish up the savory broth (along with any ingredients that get lost at sea) and provide ramekins for the hot-and-zesty dipping sauce.
  • H-Mart (there locations in Aurora and Westminster in Colorado) has an amazing variety of pre-sliced meats and poultry, so you can pick up anything from beef tongue to sliced lamb — all ready to marinade for your hot-pot party. And if you have another favorite marinade in mind, use it.
  • H-Mart and other Asian markets often also carry Chinese soup spoons and wire strainers, perfect for fishing for hot-pot delights.
  • The ingredients in this recipe are in no way an exhaustive list of what you can use; other tasty options include tofu, mushrooms, baby corn, store-bought fish balls and cakes, sliced liver or kidney (a favorite in our fam), wontons and pork belly.
  • This is an incredibly versatile recipe. Please adjust it as you wish — it’s just all about enjoying the experience with friends and family.

Photo credit: iStock

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