:)) Promise this is going to be the last Chinese hot-pot post. But you see, we really eat a lot!! Ha… Here you go, it continues from yesterday.
Well, vegetables here really just refers to those green leaves, because other vegetables might take longer time to cook, and simply boiling them probably cannot give it the best taste. Here are some common green leaves cooked in hot-pot.
All sorts of lettuce are good, just need to wash the lettuce, and ‘separate’ the leaves, no need to chop into small pieces.
However, for Chinese leaves, the best part for using in hot-pot is the heart. So you can peel off the outer layers, leave them for stir-fry next time, and use the heart part for hot-pot. Again, no need to chop, just wash and separate the leaves.
Pickled Chinese leaves:
Like I mentioned before, pickled Chinese leaves is probably only popular for hot-pot in northern China. We normally have it for hot-pot, especially during the winter. Again, only the heart part is good for hot-pot.
I know I mentioned to add some coriander when preparing the soup base, but now it is for actual ‘cooking’ in the soup. They are very tasty in hot-pot, and can also give the soup base an additional fragrance. Normally, you would need a big bunch of it.
The spinach used for hot-pot cannot be what we normally get in the supermarkets, at least here in UK — only the leaves, you would need the whole spinach — with the ‘stems’ as well.
Mushroom is another very popular ingredient for hot-pot. Fresh mushroom, enoki mushroom, Chinese mushroom, oyster mushroom, even black fungus, are all good for hot-pot. I sometimes like to make a plate of selections. Dried mushrooms need to be soaked well, before serving.
Fensi is almost a ‘must-have’ for hot-pot. It is important to choose the nice quality one. I still prefer mung bean Fensi, its texture and taste is much better than the others for using in hot-pot. It does not need to be soaked first, but you probably like to cut it into shorter length, as it will be easier to pick it up from the boiling ‘pot’. But you do need to remember when you put it in, as it should not be boiled too long.
Most of the times, after having above ingredients in the hot-pot, many people are very full already, but sometimes, for in case if you want a little bit more ‘solid’ or say ‘staple’ food to fill in the ‘gaps’ you have in the stomach, it is common to prepare some eggs (uncooked) and instant noodles on the side. Eggs can be just cracked, and drop it into the soup. Noodles — normally we use instant noodles (without using the seasonings in the package), as it is easy to cook in hot-pot.
Phew… How many things already?! You might think it is crazy, but the truth is, don’t count that you are full because you eat a lot, they are very easy to digest, in fact you might get hungry soon. :))
Ok, now, let’s move on to the dip. Dip is the third important port for preparing hot-pot. After ‘cooking’ the ingredients in the soup base, they normally need to be dipped in the seasoning dip before eating, for enhancing the taste. Again, the easiest way to have dip is to buy it in the supermarkets. But I don’t really like them after trying a few time, probably because I still like the traditional way which my parents prepared. Here is how my parents used to prepare it. You would need quite specific Chinese ingredients, but most of them can be found in the supermarkets. Here you go.
Ingredients for the dip:
sesame paste, fermented bean curd (better with the sauce which comes with it in the bottle), leek flower paste (see the photo, my husband call it Chinese ‘green’ soybean paste, he is not a big fan of its smell, well, the smell can be strong, but after putting it in the dip like this, he would ask you why this dip is so tasty. Ha!!!), light soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, chili oil (if you like)
1) Take two full tablespoons of sesame paste in a small bowl, add in around 2 tablespoons of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Use a spoon to stir the mixture within the same direction, until the sesame paste is well dissolved into the water.
2) Take one or two pieces of fermented bean curd, mix it in its own sauce, if there is not enough sauce left in the bottle, you can add a bit water instead. Make it into liquid form.
3) Mix the above two together, then add in 1 teaspoon of leek flower paste, 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, half tablespoon of rice vinegar (if you like it more sour, you add more to your own bowl), 1flat teaspoon of white sugar, and a few drops of sesame oil. Mix everything together well.
How to ‘cook’ and eat hot-pot?
Allow the soup base well boiled, and keep on boiling during the eating time. You can pick up whatever the things you like to eat and leave it in the soup base, let it cook. But for the meat, or vegetable leaves, you can actually just hold it with the chopstick while it’s being cooked in the soup, normally it only takes a few seconds, when the colour of the meat has changed (if the meat is very thinly prepared), you can take it out to dip in your dip mix, then eat. Sometimes, after you leave the things in the soup completely, it might ‘swim’ away, and you have to look for it, or it might be picked up by other people, but it is all fan!!
When to eat hot-pot?
— Ha… I would say whenever you like. But last year in early September, when a couple of friends were coming to visit, I suggested hot-pot, she thought it was too hot to have hot-pot. …… Probably having hot-pot is more popular in winter, especially during Chinese new year festival time, the weather is too cold, and hot-pot can really warm you as well the whole house up. :)) But me and my friends like to have it in summer as well — sounds crazy? It is because sometimes, summer can get steamy hot, your body is not feeling very comfortable. Having hot-pot can help you have a very good sweat, to ‘get rid of’ the steaminess from inside out. — Oh, of course, after having the hot-pot, you would need to take a good shower and change to a new set of cloth, but feel super fresh. Ha…
Ok, now, the end for the posts of the hot-pot series. Hope you enjoyed it, and hope it really makes you want to try it. :)))