legend has it, genghis khan informed his troops he wanted a quick and nutritious meal to be eaten on the run. they came up with hot pot. if you can trace the origins of the kebob to turkish solider skewering meats and vegetables with their swords on a open fire, i can totally see some mongols sitting around a pot of water, dipping, cooking their meals.... downtime while they rape and pilage (or bring an early form of democracy and government, depending on which view better suits you).
so hot pot. it got all popular recently. i swear you cant walk a few block in the san francisco bay area without waiting in line for one. whether it be the oh so popular little sheep mongolian hot pot chain, the og all you can eat and drink mums in japantown, or one of ten i can name off the top of my head shabu shabu/hotpot places in sf, lets just say people like hot pot.
and why not? fresh veggies and thinly sliced meats cooked table top. its fun, its healthy. why the hell not?
this post is not going to be about where i like to eat hot pot. however, i do have to say, up until a few years ago, i refused to eat hot pot at restaurants. most places were either over priced and/or just crappy..... then came shabu house in the richmond district of sf...
lets just be honest. shabu house got INSANELY popular because of their spicy miso broth. such a simple adjustment to the formula and BAM. instant hit.
THIS POST IS ABOUT DOING HOT POT AT HOME.
once upon a time, during the height of mama lees cooking reign, when she was feeling a bit lazy, it was hot pot night. grab random veggies out of the frig, thinly slice some meats, make up a dipping sauce and there you go. a great meal.
over the years, i started taking a huge liking to hot pot. it made me feel healthy. hell, you eat like two days serving worth of vegetables in one meal. its also fun. you get to make the people you are sharing a meal with interact with their food. they get to pick their sauces, they get to cook it.... they feel part of the process.
its always a great meal when you hot pot at home.
LETS GET RIGHT TO IT
of course there is going to be a start up cost. you need to buy some equipment. bare basic, you need a pot (cough cough) and something to make it hot. i would suggest the ubquitous asian table top burner.....
IMPORTANT NOTE HERE THIS IS NO BULLSHIT, REAL SHIT.
buy something good. dont buy cheap shit. an extra five ten fifteen bucks is NOTHING when it comes to safety. a friend of ours got hurt during a fund raiser we were having. im not saying she was using bad equipment. it was fine, but see, even then with good equipment, things can go wrong. using better equipment will help reduce the risks.
personally, when it come to table top burners, i think iwatani burners are the freaking bizness. these are top of the line units.
i have a few different burners at home, but the one i like to use currently is this one. it has a ceramic burner that prevents the flame from going out until you completely cut the gas. this will help prevent one major type of accident these table top burners are known for, when the flame goes out, gas builds up and a small little spark...... yeah not good.
avoid something that feels flimsy.
get used to your equipment, how it works, how to turn it off.
a good table top burner should run you anywhere from $20- 40.
BUY GOOD FUEL CELLS. dont try to save a buck by buying a shitton off ebay for $3... buy from a reputable source. safety first.
as for the pot, well anything that can hold water will work, but the qualities you are looking for is something that is wider than tall, something that holds heat well and thats about it.
it may cost you a little money up front, but i can assure you, if you like hot pot, if you like to entertain, if you just like good food, you will get your moneys worth.
HOT POT IN THE CITY!!!!
ok so what will you need ingredients wise? this isnt a recipe. its a guideline. do whatever the hell you like. im just trying to show you guys its real easy. im just going to use one random nights hot pot dinner to show you guys some stuff.
so i stopped buy the local asian market, nijiya, to pick up some stuff. some veggies, some meats and i picked out a mid price point ponzu sauce to highlight an important point. more on this later.
BUT... you dont need one. your local asian markets have conviently thinly sliced meats just for this.
these are even marked.... shabu shabu
berkshire pork loin and nicely marbled ribeye (actually sukiyaki cut, a bit thicker cut cause the meat looked so good!)
if you cant find precut and if your local butcher wont slice it for you, well, no worries. slightly freeze your meats of choice and do your best to slice it thin.
besides beef and pork, you can use most anything, scallops, shrimps, lobster, clam........ive used them all and they are just fine.
i usually buy a head of napa cabbage, a bunch of spinach, some mushrooms, some green onions.... oh wait, look at this. theres a variety pack for nabe (japanese soup) that has chopped napa cabbage, some mushrooms, leeks, carrots... how nice of them to to this for me!
all boxed up and easy
the nabe set plated
trumpet mushrooms, spinach
i decided to buy some fun stuff too. berkshire spicy pork sausage, some somen noodles, some udon noodles, fried tofu ...... let your imagination go and try it. you will never know if you like it or not if you dont try it.
these three things. OMG so good.
its not just for breakfast anymore
PREPARING THE HOT POT
i take the pot, add some water........ now some people will say, some water is all you need. these people probably dont read food blogs so i wont worry about offending them....
to use just plain water after you bought a nice hot pot set and bought some great ingredients to cook in it would be a crime.
some people add chicken stock. some people add spices and seasonings. one of the most interesting ones ive heard is tom yum flavored hot pot broth!
today, ill be making a super simple spicy miso.
whenever i can, i use kombu. its dried kelp. i rinse. i add it to simmering water and let it seep. it adds a great foundation to build all your flavors on.
even if you are making instant ramen, simmer some kombu in the water first. you wont understand why, but that shit just makes everything taste better.
today, i simmered some kombu and some dried shitake.
a scale shot. this is how much i used. RINSE RINSE this dried kelp
to this i added huge heaping spoon of miso.....
taste as you go along. find the balance you like. in this example, to about a gallon of water i added about two heaping table spoons of miso.
i added a few small slices of ginger and a small spoon of kot chu jjang (korean spicy red pepper paste).... homemade actually (homemade as in moi, more on this in a later post). you dont need this. you can add sriacha, dried peppers, spicy red pepper oil.... whatever you like.
bring this to a simmer.
ive seen all sorts of sauces. i use all sorts of sauces. my goto however is ponzu...
what is ponzu? it depends on who you ask. some people will say flavored soy sauce. some will say citrus soy sauce....
ME?!??! i say they are all wrong. YUZU my friends. YU FUCKING ZU. its really does make a difference. the house ponzu sauce you get at most restaurants is little more than soy sauce with a few seasoning and "citrus" flavoring which can be anything from citrus oil (extract from lemon, lime orange peels) or citrus juice..... GET SOMETHING WITH YUZU IN IT. you will thank me for it. if you spent the time to read this, convince yourself that bibimblog is the most awesomest blog ever and you must do what i say, go buy yourself a hot pot set and since your at the local asian market picking up supplies... just spend the extra few bucks on good ponzu dipping sauce with REAL YUZU in it....
(im currently sourcing a yuzu tree to grow on my patio!!)
yes, yuzu is the bizness
kikoman ponzu sauce is good. no yuzu. it costs like $2 for 400ml bottle. its probably the exact same thing you tried before at restaurants.
one day, with a bit of extra money burning a hole in my pocket i bought this.
ive also tried stuff that costs $30 for a 400ml bottle.... well these should only be used when your actually drinking the stuff... again, another post later...so many topics, such a little blog!
today, i bought this. a mid-range priced ponzu sauce with yuzu juice. i gave a bit to my lovely better half to taste... shes huge hot pot fan, the reason for the post infact...(my muse if you will) and she was blown away how a few more bucks can mean so much in flavor. its like day and night. she was amazed just how much better the meal was with a dipping sauce that was only 4 more dollars. (and that $4 stretches out for at least 8 servings)
you can also buy sesame seed dipping sauce, you can chop up green onions, garlic, ginger and add it.... whatever you like!!!
today i added shichimi to the ponzu. its a seven seasoning spice (shichi means 7 in japanese) thats a bit spicy a bit savory. a whole lot tasty.
mama lee used to make this soy sauce, vinegar, red pepper flakes and fish sauce dipping sauce i used to LOVE..... fond memories
now bring everything table top. put it next you your assorted plates of stuff. tada, dinner is served.....
you dip i dip we dip. cook for as long as you like or as little as you like. dont leave the proteins in for too long. adjust the temp according to your cooking and eating style.
NOW WHAT I LOVE ABOUT HOT POT THE MOST?
again, bibimblog is telling you what most people would think of as scraps, waste, byproducts, is gold!!!
wait, before that... heres how freaking hippie santa cruz ive become. i take the scrap i cut off the veggies, stems, roots, skins, and put them in my worm bin. worms eat it. turn it into compost. i grow veggies with that compost. circle of life.
any questions, comments, smart ass remarks? post below