Sunday, February 07, 2016

Hotpot: a recipe

A photo posted by @casa_della_bisou on

I don't know what cuisine this is. But here's how I make hotpot:

-Meat: You'll want a nice cut of beef (ideally ribeye), but not much of it. It needs to be thinly sliced, which is no big deal if there's a supermarket near you that sells this, but if there isn't (or if, as is my situation, there probably is, but it's a choice between the place with Wagyu and the one where even tofu purchased near the butcher section stinks of rotten meat), pay up at whichever other butcher and do the partially-freeze-then-slice method. I have no idea for how long, only that I always get this wrong, and freeze it too little or into a solid block. (Maybe 3 hours would be ideal?)


Put up the rice cooker. If using a regular pot, start on the rice after the broth, I think.


Put chicken stock (packaged is fine) in the pot you'll use for the hotpot itself, but on the burner, so as not to waste hotpot-canister fuel before you're actually having the meal. If you have one of those induction-top situations, put on the burner immediately, as this will take forever.

Spices: Add to the broth one star anise star thingy; a few (not too many! I have done this!) Szechuan peppercorns; and a good number of dried, whole red chilis. (Or maybe fewer if the ones you have are really spicy.) Also: sliced fresh ginger, some less aesthetic-looking (but edible!) bits of shiitake mushroom, scallion, garlic. Let that simmer for... as long as you're preparing everything else.

Ingredient prep: Soak dried tofu skin. That needs to happen first, because it takes forever. Then, in whichever order:

-Chop scallion and chop (or better yet, garlic-press) garlic. Put these aside in dipping-sauce bowls, to be combined with soy sauce and sesame oil.

-Wash a tremendous amount of pea shoots and/or baby bok choy.

-Cut up remaining shiitake mushrooms. "Cooking with Dog"-style (that is, with a little cross in the center), if you're feeling ambitious.

-Tofu? Why not! (I like the one that's silky but not so much so that it completely disintegrates.) But try to get a smaller amount, since leftover raw tofu is complicated.

-Remember to take out anything else of interest (say, the thin mochi designed for hotpot) from whichever pantry.

-The meat! It should probably come out of the freezer by now. Take it out, and try to slice it thinly.

And then it's just time to eat the thing. Which is - apart from the setup itself - kind of self-explanatory.

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