Have you ever heard of Chinese hot pot? Gar explained what this was to me a few months ago and we’ve done our version of it twice since then. There are variations of this style of meal depending upon the geographical location but, basically, it’s a sort of Chinese fondue involving a hot broth, meat, sauces, and various vegetables. I read that there are traditional bowls for the broth that are sometimes heated with very hot stones. Well, I suppose the next best alternative to kick-ass traditional Chinese bowls is Sunbeam’s hot pot express for $9.99 at Target. The hot pot can boil water faster than anything and it actually works out so great for a hot pot dinner. It is not cordless, however, so you might need to run an extension cord to your table. But, hey, that’s the fun of doing something different for dinner!
There are all sorts of suggestions out there for the type of broth to use or make but I figure that if I’m going to be putting so much work into slicing, chopping, and making a sauce then I want a simple broth. I use pre-made vegetable broth and a small amount of fresh ginger paste for the broth. For the vegetables, we went with snap peas, zucchini, mushroom, and bell pepper. I also thinly sliced some organic chicken breast and New York steak after it had been in the freezer for about 45 minutes. This dinner could easily be vegetarian or vegan and something like sliced tempeh or baked tofu might be a nice addition. Three out of the four sauces you see were store bought. I used teriyaki, sweet pepper, and spicy mustard sauce. Finally, I made a spicy green condiment of sorts using jalapeño, mint, cilantro, ginger jam for a little sweetness and flavor (I buy a handful of ginger-related foods online from The Ginger People), olive oil, and salt.
My favorite things about doing a hot pot dinner are that it’s time consuming and interactive. Gar and I typically spend a little over an hour eating since your ability to eat a lot in a short period of time is greatly decreased and we tend to talk a lot more than when we sit down for a typical dinner. I find this sort of lengthy food-related personal experience so wonderful to share with a friend or a spouse. I am a huge fan.