Thursday, April 16, 2009

feelin' hot pot! Oh, so cheesy, I know, but with such a festive free-for-all way to eat dinner, a bit of silliness is guaranteed. It had been positively aaaages since our last hot pot meal, but with my mom's birthday to celebrate, it seemed the perfect time to get out all the fun gear and just start dunking and dipping.

First a trip to the local Chinese supermarket for the fixings:


Thinly sliced beef and lamb, ready to be fanned out and swish swish swish-ed by pairs of eager chopsticks.


Part of our arsenal of dipping sauces - black vinegar, sesame oil...


...toasty barbecue sauce, also called sa cha, made of garlic, shallots, chili and shrimp paste.


It's pleasantly stinky, if that makes sense. And great to mix with all the other sauces. I love diy dinners!


Chiu Chow chili oil. Oh, that smoky, salty, nose runningly hot stuff. Gotta have the chili oil.


And while we unpacked the groceries (another reason to love a hot pot feast, easiest prep ever!), a quick stock was put on to simmer. No homemade chicken on hand, but not to worry, a can or two gets opened and bumped up with shrimp heads and shells (left over from D's shrimp ball making, in a bit) and napa cabbage innards. Delish.


Enoki and oyster mushrooms, quail eggs (to be used by the more adventurous, cracked raw and ooey, as another dipper to temper the piping hot food) and the infamous beef balls. (I say that as D still can't believe that I actually like the strange superball texture of the store bought kind. I guess it's a taste memory thing. Scored with a little x and puffed up in hot soup, I can't imagine not having these processed babies for hot pot.)


Deep fried tofu puffs. Perfect little flavour sponges! We discovered later that when they float to the top of broth containing, say spoonfuls of hot chili oil, they tend to also soak up just the oil. Oh, it burns, it burns so good.


D, still disbelieving of my love for rubber meatballs, went ahead and made his own shrimp version. Yeah, so they were pretty much the most delicious, delicate, sweet seafoodie dumplings of delight ever. Show off. (I kid, they were fantastic.)


Oh so serene images of Before...


...sliced chicken, lightly blanched oysters, strips of napa cabbage...

IMG_5866 little dish of sauces, ready to begin. Aaaand go!


(You'll notice we don't actually have the proper pots; we made do with one big rice cooker for the main dunking and a mini one for the crazy kids that liked it spicy. Chili and oil and sichuan peppercorn, oh my.)


My aunt, getting a better view of the situation. The action can get a bit intense!


Dunk, swish, slurp, burp. A handful of watercress and rice noodles go in near the end to soak up the now concentrated broth...



Success! I'm thinking we need more family dinners this messy and fun.

And last, but definitely, not least, it was time for mom's birthday cake. Courtesy of Aunt W, we had a Chinese bakery classic...


...super mango mousse layered with sponge cake (I'm pretty sure there was tinned fruit salad in the middle somewhere, how awesome!)


Happy birthday mom!

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