Monday, January 30, 2012

Chinese Hot Pot Dinner

Yesterday I experienced my first Chinese hot pot meal. I am always up for a little adventure, always willing to try something new, and I love food... so this was perfect! Our friends, Howard and Janet, invited us to their home for this exciting experience. They were such lovely hosts!

Our evening started with an edamame appetizer.

Janet taught us how to make these little boxes out of paper (magazine pages shown here) to hold our edamame pods.
It makes for very easy clean up!
I'll share the step-by-step in a blog post soon.

Each place setting was perfectly arranged with everything you need... the cup for tea at the top, the bowl (upside down) ready for THE SAUCE, the small plate for each delicious piece of food pulled out of the pot, chopsticks, the basket for the "treasure hunt" in the pot, and a spoon to enjoy the broth at the end.
Look at this beautiful teapot (the tea was delicious too)
Here's a shot of Howard adding fish cakes and veggies to the pot of boiling broth while Janet explained to us how to use the basket for the "treasure hunt"... finding all of the good things you want to eat out of the pot and lifting it to your plate (without getting burned).
This is just a small fraction of the food we ate...
sweet potatoes, little mushrooms, meatballs, lobster rolls, various fish cakes

 Let me stop here and say that I had never tried a fish cake before this meal. There were many different varieties, all with different flavorings. They were soft and tasty. I've never had anything quite like them, so I wouldn't even know how to compare it to something I've eaten in the past. You'll just have to try them for yourself.

 OK, this sauce is the best part! It starts with some kind of paste (the brown stuff in the bottom left in the picture below). Then you add some garlic, green onion, and cilantro to your liking. Janet also had some hot chili paste, which Mark generously added to his sauce. Last you add some soy sauce and stir it all up. The fun part is that you get to make your own sauce, adding as much or as little of each ingredient. You then proceed to dip the goodies you pull from the hot pot into the sauce - YUM!

Here's a view of THE SAUCE ready for some fish cake dipping.

This is the hot pot full of various fish cakes. Those golden brown ones in the lower left of the pot were one of my favorites. I tried each one!  The sweet potatoes and daikon were also quite tasty. And the taro and lotus root were so extremely delicious (I ate several pieces of each of those). I was so focused on eating those two root vegetables that I neglected to take a picture!

 Cory liked the fish cakes too!
Mindy and Cory enjoying dinner with us.

I ate so much food at dinner. But I ALWAYS have room for dessert... And it was just as exciting as the main course. Janet served mochi in three flavors - peanut, red bean, and black sesame. They were all fantastic! I savored each one.

Mochi are soft balls made of rice that's been smashed to a paste and shaped around a delicious filling. They're boiled and served hot. Oh so tasty!

This is the mochi on my spoon... an innocent soft ball with a hidden surprise in the middle.
Here's what it looks like on the inside. This one is the black sesame. I think it was my favorite.
Our sweet hosts - Howard and Janet

What a wonderful evening! The food was delicious, but the company was even better. I am so thankful that Howard and Janet opened their home to us and took the time (and it took A LOT of time) to prepare this unforgettable experience. If you ever get the opportunity to try a traditional Chinese hot pot meal - you've gotta do it! You'll love it.

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