Asians like to call this “Hot Pot”. My Caucasian co-worker compared it to “fondue”, which I like the sound of, but still don’t think is completely accurate. This is considered an indulgent dinner (it’s like an all-you-can-eat, IN YOUR FACE, that will not move or go away until YOU do so proactively.) But I had a fabulous workout after work so I deserve this. Pictures speak louder than words, so here was the first “batch” of dinner last night.
The Art of Hot Pot
The Concept: You start with a broth in an electric pot (sometimes spiked with chili oil, some with curry, some with miso – depending on your preferences). This pot sits on your table and you basically cook any raw ingredient you want in this pot while sitting at the table. When it’s done, you fish it out of the pot and dip it into the sauce you create. Traditionally, we us “XO sauce” or “sha cha jiang” – a greasy, flavorful, satay-like, dark and gritty sauce. (hm…I think i just made it sound disgusting)
Pros: AWESOME for family gatherings! Promotes dialogue while you’re waiting for your food to cook (may potentially be awkward), eat however much you like, whatever you like, whenever you like, and it’ll always be piping hot!
Cons: You sit for 3 hours and eat non-stop until you realize you might explode soon, and the potentially very greasy dipping sauces
What you see is what you get.:) In our pot, there was chicken broth, sesame oil, firm tofu, and Korean radish simmering away. Our raw ingredients were imitation crab meat, SHRIMP (my favorite), udon noodles, squid, leafy veggies like napa cabbage, fish balls, fried fish cakes, and THIS!
I got these from Chinatown and they are literally shirataki noodles rolled up like a ball of yarn. They are amazing in hot pot! Here’s a close-up. This guy had soaked up some soy sauce I poured over him, so he’s kinda tan. Normally, they’re white.
So as you can tell, dinner was fabulous. I will get to have lots of udon and left-overs for dinner tonight! Yay, I’m actually very excited. Now if you didn’t know about hot pot before this, you may go show off how much you’ve learned just from blog-reading!!😛
Moving on to breakfast. I couldn’t get any pictures today because I got to go to a business breakfast meeting downtown and it would have been inappropriate to photograph the buffet station in front of 50 business people. *sigh* SORRY. But I was good and had a yogurt, a plate full of mixed fruits, and some scrambled eggs.
NOW for lunch. LUNCH was a big dissappointment. To think how excited I was for this microwaveable butternut squash ravioli makes me want to strangle myself for naiivity. People at Eating Right, DO NOT make a 280 calorie meal with 10grams of fat almost INEDIBLE or you may go out of business. Grrrrrr.
No no, don’t let the pretty colors fool you. DO NOT buy this dish at all costs.
The sauce wasn’t bad (well-seasoned, expected creamy consistency), the veggies were a little soggy, FINE. But out of my 5 decently sized raviolis, 2 were 100% inedible because I couldn’t even chew through the skin!!!! The butternut filling was scant, and even more disgusting were the “golden walnuts” floating in the sauce!! They were coated in a soggy yellow dough shell, and tasted like it too. Gahhh EW!!! Verdict: 3/10 (and I’m being nice)
Here was the complete lunch I had intially. BUT I had to drastically add more foods to actually “complete” the meal because I was SO dissatisfied.
I added some steamed brussel sprouts into the microwaveable meal to beef it up, a pear, and though I wasn’t planning on it I went through 80% of that pound of baby carrots because I was still hungry since I COULD NOT physically chew through 2 out of the 5 ravioli’s.
Here were my saviors. Also known as my meal supplements/boosters.
Of course, half an English muffin with a serving of artichoke & spinach hummus! (p.s. I bought horseradish hummus yesterday…hope it’s good)
My lesson learned: DO NOT buy a microwaveable meal (EVEN if it is on sale) before doing some research, because you will just end up eating way MORE if you’re dissatisfied.
Anyway, I guess I’m off to do some work. How completely random, but I’m pretty sad that there wasn’t an episode of House last night. I know this is even more random, but I’m SO PUMPED for Chicago restaurant week in 2 weeks! (Dinner at Four Seasons for $33!! wahooooo!!!)
QUESTION for YOU because I’m super curious. What is the strangest Asian dish you’ve ever seen/tasted?
Mine might have to be frogs over rice in a crock pot.