I love to cook and try new foods and I really like hot pot. There are so many different vegetables that you can put inside of it that gives you something different to taste with each bite. However, this hot pot is more than what you put into it; the flavor is all in the broth. It’s spicy, yet cooling. The chilly peppers are balanced by peppercorns that have a numbing and cooling effect. And there are a plethora of other herbs and spices that make this hot pot flavorful and comforting. The herbs and spices work together and one does not overpower the other. It’s the perfect balancing act.
My partner and I decked to make this hot pot one chilly Friday evening. We covered the furniture and made sure no cloth was left exposed, lest it becomes permeated in hot pot aroma and continually tempt us long after our stomachs were full. Since I like to be in charge of the kitchen, even if I don’t understand the recipe, I decided to get started. My partner told me we could put whatever we wanted inside of the hot pot and I might have a taken that too literally. We made this hot pot on two separate days, so here are the two versions.
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 medium-sized sweet potato chopped
- 2 small white potatoes chopped
- 4 shitake mushrooms sliced
- 5 button mushrooms sliced
- 4 leaves from a large napa cabbage chopped
- 3 bok choy stalks chopped chopped
- 1 carrot chopped
- Thinly sliced beef
- 1 package of Hot Pot Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups of soaked wood ear mushrooms
- 2 sausages sliced lengthwise
- 6 bok choy stalks
- 3 sweet potatoes chopped
- 2 white potatoes chopped
- 10 leaves of Napa cabbage
- Sweet potato noodles soaked in warm water
- 1 package of hot pot sauce
* These measurements can be adjusted according to preference. Hot pot is very versatile and there are many different types that you can choose from.
After boiling the water I placed the first seasoning packet inside the water and the aroma that came from the pot was overwhelmingly delicious. I think my mouth was literally watering. I boiled the potatoes and carrots for a few minutes until they were almost tender, and then I added the remaining vegetables. After everything was cooked we mixed in the remaining 2 packets and stirred for a few seconds before adding the beef. Since it’s thinly sliced it only takes a few seconds to cook. You can eat this as is or with a small bowl of rice.
For me, part of kitchen magic is appreciating the ingredients that I use and enjoying the process. Making this hot pot is not only simple, but it is impossible to do it “wrong”. Each ingredient you use is what inspires you, so if you feel more inclined to use another vegetable you can use it. It’s not fancy or pretentious and it doesn’t require a lot of work to make it, yet it does more than any meal at a Michelin rated restaurant could do for me. It made me feel warm, relaxed and deeply satisfied.