I've been getting bugged quite a bit recently to post about our post-New Years hotpot. Being the lazy person that I aim, it took me about 3 weeks to actually listen and post. What have I been doing in the meantime? Not much, kinda just sleeping really. Anyway, on to hotpot.

January 7th, 2017

I woke up to the obnoxious buzzing of my phone. Some friends on Facebook were discussing dim sum for brunch. Sure, I thought, why not get out of my den for a bit. Besides, friends were coming over tonight, and I need some ingredients for cooking. Might as well go get some ingredients as well.

Dressing in my usual jeans, shirt, and jacket, I walked outside and found myself in the middle of a blizzard. The wind blasted my face as the snow flew through the street. First thought? It's cold. Duh. Second thought? Hot pot

Hot Pot Basics

Hot pot is a really simple dish. It's mainly about the broth and as long as you know how to make a good broth, you'll have a good time with a hot pots. For this hot pot, I made a simple Japanese styled dashi broth. The ingredients you need to do this are:

  1. 2 pieces of Kombu
  2. Bonito
  3. Seaweed

Put the seaweed in about 1-2 cups of water in a dish somewhere. Put about 4 cups of water in a pot along with the 2 pieces of kombu. Heat the water until it boils, and then take the kombu out. Add in some of the seaweed water to the pot and add a handful of bonito. Reboil the broth, and let it boil for about 5 minutes. Strain the broth of bonito and add in the seaweed. Let the broth boil for another 5 minutes, and your basic broth is done!

This is a simple, basic, and flexible broth. Feel free to make additional enhancements. For example:

  1. Use a bone-broth instead of a dashi broth.
  2. Add in additional vegetables like mushroom or daikon.
  3. Add in herbs like ginseng and ginger to change up the flavor.

After that, just add some salt and mirin for taste, and your hot pot is good to go.

Ingredients

While the broth is making, it's a good idea to start chopping up some of the ingredients that you'll be cooking in the hot pot. What you like to put in hotpot depends on your taste, but I personally prefer having some beef, some lamb, and a large assortment of vegetables.

Make sure to slice most of your meats and vegetables thinly. This is so they'll cook more quickly in the hot pot. Aside from that, you can do some fancy cutting trickery like making carrots into a flower shape, but they don't provide any cooking benefits.

Eating

With the broth cooked and the ingredients cut, it's time to gather your friends around. Start cooking. Drop some food in. Watch as the pot bubbles and the steam rises. Let the warmth fill the room. Savor the moment and enjoy.