My good friend Grace who is also my neighbor is from Hong Kong. She is married to an Italian man and has 2 children and lives 2 floors below us. She speaks great English and we connect easily. Grace has helped us learn a lot about Chinese culture. The other week she introduced us to Chinese hot pot. It is equated to Chinese fondue. Hot pot consists of a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table. Meats, seafoods, vegetables and noodles are chosen individually and placed into the pot and then cooked in the stock. Each person has a bowl with their own dipping sauce to enjoy with their cooked foods.
Grace had such a spread for us….thinly sliced beef, pork, shrimp, fish balls, watercress, baby bok choy, daikon (large white radish), Enoki mushrooms, winter mushrooms, tofu and rice noodles. The boys really enjoyed using their chop sticks, choosing their meats and cooking them all by themselves. Simon had so much fun cooking and cooking. He definitely cooked more than he actually ate! Sometimes you would lose track of your chosen meat or vegetable in the pot and someone else would retrieve it. Grace explained that the banter and laughter that would ensue from taking another’s meat was part of the fun of it and all part of hot pot! 🙂 My favorites of the night was the thinly sliced beef, watercress and daikon with a satay dipping sauce.
Sitting around a large table of food, cooking and eating together causes you to linger longer at the table and enjoy not just a meal but a whole evening. We enjoyed our first experience of Chinese hot pot so much that Abe went out and found us our very own hot pot that next week. Now we will have to return the favor and invite Grace and her family to our home for hot pot!
* A little side note – Grace also taught me how to ‘shell’ a cooked shrimp using only your chopsticks and your mouth (i.e. no hands). I actually did it just like she said, which included biting the head off in my mouth before spitting it out! Proud of me?? So graphic but that is how the Chinese properly eat it!
*One more side note – while I really enjoyed Chinese hot pot if given the choice I would still choose cheese fondue over ‘Chinese fondue’! 🙂