Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hot Pot Dinner Parties

During this holiday break, we were invited to friends' Christmas dinner parties.  Hot pot was served in both parties we attended.  Hot pot meals are often a popular choice during winter. When there is a big group of people, it's an easy way to entertain while not getting stressed out with all the cooking.  The hostess prepared all the raw meat, meatballs, tofu and vegetables, and while the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. All guests gather around the table to use their utensils to scoop up the food to eat in their own bowls. The cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce. The most common sauce we use is a mixture of heated cooking oil with soy sauce, sesame oil, green onion and sometimes red pepper if a spicy flavor is desired.

At the first dinner party we went to,  we used both grills and hot pots at the same time. The traditional hot pot at home is above the table and fueled by portable propane gas.  Meat or vegetables are placed individually into the hot cooking broth by chopsticks, and the cooking time is usually short. Some people like to place items into the hot pot at a leisurely pace, enjoying the cooking process, but my family prefers to throw everything in at once and wait for the hotpot to return to a boil.  Besides the traditional way, there's a grill along the side of the pot in which you can grill the food and eat at the same time.

Last night we had this traditional hot pot, with soups on both sides of the pot. You have an option of  making a hot and spicy soup in one side, or both sides with plain soup and slices of ginger and onion to initially begin the cooking process.

We also usually have cold drinks on the side as eating in front of the hot pot can make you feel hot and thirsty most of the time. People have told me to not drink the soup that's been cooked in the hot pot because it has high content of salt and many calories after the meat and vegetables were cooked in it.

*Picture source: Wikipedia

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