My family recently enjoyed a Chinese traditional dinner that dates back over 1,000 years.
Enjoying a meal together as a family is something we don’t do enough of.
T is a picky eater, so we make his own meal and get him fed on school nights before we eat.
Weekends, going to someone’s home or eating out present less frequent times to eat together.
I wish we could do better. But I don’t lose sleep over it, because there are many other moments we spend time together and T gets social eating moments and skills at school and daycare, so we’re not quite raising a feral cat.
This past Saturday, I prepared a hot pot dinner for us to enjoy. It was all I could think about in my free time last week, as cooking has provided me much comfort as of late.
The hotpot concept is simple: “a simmering metal pot with broth boils at the centre of a table and people can add and cook all the raw ingredients they like in the broth.”
The hubby and I haven’t had hotpot in years. We usually enjoy it at a restaurant but we also own a portable cooker powered by gas canisters. We purchased it in Chinatown almost 20 years ago! It’s practically a family heirloom.
Ingredient hunting was fun.
I went to the local Chinese supermarket. I don’t often shop at these stores, so it’s fun to find ingredients I normally don’t use. For starters, there’s an entire aisle just for soy sauce!
I settled on the following menu: sliced beef, imitation crab, “lobster” balls, fish balls, Napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, fried gluten, dumplings, udon noodles.
These ingredients were packaged as hotpot ready to cook, so I had very little prep work.
It’s way more affordable to enjoy hotpot at home than at a restaurant. Let that sink in: you’re paying to cook your own food!
The broth is the foundation of hotpot. Our pot has a partition. So one half had standard chicken broth. The other half had satay (peanut) broth, using soup base from the store. Yum!
The condiments to dip the cooked food in are also important. We used what we already had at home: soy sauce, chili oil, sesame oil and chili garlic.
You mix your condiments in a bowl with a raw egg. Dipping sauce is now ready!
The cooking part was enjoyable.
As always, we threw the meat and mushrooms in first. I threw in full stalks of green onion to richen the broth.
T was curious about the hotpot. He helped add items in. We warned him to not toss items in, because this was piping hot boiling water!
You know the best part of hotpot? It forces participants to slow down and savour the moments while the food is cooking.
Once the food is cooked, you dip it into your sauce and enjoy. Then add more food into the pot.
Simplicity at its enjoyable best!
After the meat, mushrooms and gluten were finished and when the broth had built such rich flavour, we started the final act of hotpot: we added the Napa cabbage and udon noodles.
A nice bowl of flavorful veggie udon noodle soup was a nice way to end the evening.
As I previously wrote, I’m working hard to portion control, so the hubby and I didn’t overdo it. We were satisfied but not stuffed.
So we now have enough leftover ingredients for another round of hotpot this coming weekend. You can bet that I’m counting down the days!
Oh, and I bet you’re wondering if T ate the hotpot food, aren’t you?
Are you nuts? The kid won’t even eat a fucking carrot!
He sat down at the dining table and ate a plate of spaghetti and meat sauce while the hubby and I cooked and enjoyed our meal.
And honestly, it was a perfect Saturday dinnertime spent together as a family.