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Hot Pot Cookery: How to With Recipes

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Equipment and Techniques

Spring Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(1) page(s): 11 and 12

When cooking in a hot pot, put only one or two items in the wire basket and lower this into the boiling liquid. Then transfer the food to the plate, and with one’s own chopsticks, dip the food items into an individual sauce bowl and enjoy! This is a common order and begins with red and white or regular tofu, then a meat, and next one or more vegetables. After this first go-round, anything is cooked in any order desired. When everyone is satiated or wanting to quit or both, pre-soaked cellophane noodles and bean sprouts, preferably with tails removed, are cooked in the liquid. After the noodles are removed by the diners and put into their bowls, those who want, can add a raw egg to the liquid. This makes the soup very rich. Everyone takes some of this multi-flavored liquid, a ladle should be on the table for this purpose, and enjoys this very spectacular soup. The egg(s) can be beaten in as in egg drop soup or poached in the liquid before sharing.

Beverages with hot pot meals are beer or a stronger alcoholic drink, tea, and nowadays, even soda. They are optional and not all people drink anything during the main part of the meal. That is, they wait patiently for that delicious multi-infused soup and drink that as their liquid of choice.

Hot pot meals are leisurely, engender lots of conversation, and are considered lots of fun. If you’ve never tried one, there are restaurants that serve them. They serve them in the metal chrysanthemum hot pots, or in stone or heavy metal pots and they can use them on an electric or gas-fired heater. No matter the ta pian lu, just enjoy! And, to enhance that pleasure, sprinkle white chrysanthemum petals into the soup just before serving or have them handy for diners to add on their own. Some say that is why the classic pot is called a chrysanthemum hot pot. Others call it by that name to represent its seasonal beauty. You can call it what you wish; we call it delicious!

What follows are several recipes with suggested amounts and a few sauce mixtures to go with them. Be creative, mix and match, make your own accompaniments, or purchase bottled sauces. Serve steamed rice or not, as you choose.
Hot Pot Mongolian Style
Ingredients suggested for six to eight people:
1 to 2 pounds leg of lamb, boned and very thinly sliced
1 pound celery cabbage
18 small shiitake mushrooms, soaked and stemmed
8 or more knotted scallions
4 or more cups lamb stock
4 ounces mung beans
Suggested sauces:
Sesame paste, rice wine, mashed fermented bean cake, chili oil, soy sauce, minced coriander leaves, Chinese chives, black vinegar, minced fresh ginger, sesame oil
Ta Pian Lu
Ingredients suggested for eight to ten people:
1 pound boneless chicken breast, sliced in quarter-inch slices
1/2 pound pork loin, thinly sliced
1/2 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
1/2 pound calves liver, thinly sliced
1/2 pound shrimp, veins removed
1/2 pound Chinese cabbage
1/2 pound spinach
1/2 pound clams, or oysters or both, shells discarded
1/2 pound garland chrysanthemum leaves
2 firm squares tofu, cut into one-inch squares
4 or more cups chicken stock
lots of scallion and Chinese chive knots
2 ounces cellophane noodles, soaked
1 white chrysanthemum
Suggested sauces:
Thin and thick soy sauces, red vinegar, sesame oil, Chinese rice wine, oyster sauce, minced scallions, fermented soybean cubes (red, white, or both) mixed with a little water.
Ten-ingredient Hot Pot
Ingredients suggested for eight to ten people:
1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
1/2 pound pork loin, thinly sliced
2 pork kidneys, veins removed and thinly sliced
1/2 pound pork tripe, cooked for half hour, then cut into one-inch pieces 4 ounces bamboo shoots, thinly sliced
8 large shiitake mushrooms, soaked and stems revoved and simmered for five minutes, thinly sliced
1/2 pound lettuce leaves
1/2 pound spinach leaves
12 or more fish balls or 1/2 pound firm-fleshed white fish, cut in one-inch pieces
4 or more cups beef broth
Suggested sauces:
Chili sauce, light soy sauce, rice wine, ground Sichuan peppercorns, mustard sauce made with dry mustard, sesame oil and water, hoisin sauce, minced coriander, minced garlic
Tripe Hot Pot
Ingredients suggested for eight to ten people:
1 pound beef tripe, precooked for half-hour, then cut into two-inch pieces
1 pound pork tripe, precooked for half-hour, then cut into two-inch pieces
1/2 pound brains, simmered for 20 minutes then cut into two-inch cubes
1/2 pound calves liver, cut into one-inch cubes
1/2 pound congealed duck blood, cut in one-inch cubes
1/2 pound flank steak, thin sliced
1/2 pound beef tendons, pre-simmered one hour
1/2 pound firm tofu, cut in one-inch cubes
2 ounces wood ear fungus, soaked and cut, if needed
1 to 2 sections lotus root, peeled and thinly sliced
6 to 8 knotted Chinese leek bundles
4 or more cups spring water
1 pound white or daikon radish, peeled and in one-inch pieces
2 ounces cellophane noodles, soaked for half-hour in warm water
8 scallions, tied in knots
1/4 pound enoki mushrooms
Suggested Accompaniments:
Chili oil, minced garlic, minced fresh ginger, chili paste with or without garlic, Sichuan peppercorns coarsely ground, ground white pepper, crushed cloves, mustard sauce made mixing dry mustard with oil or water

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