Sunday, November 01, 2009

Hot Pot. Remixed.

Mongolian Japanese Hot Pot

Winter is coming and for Jeni and I it means one delicious thing to add to the menu: hot pot. But the problem is, she being Japanese, loves her nabemono, Japanese hot pot. Me being Chinese, I love Chinese/Mongolian style hot pot. There isn't really a difference between the cultural versions of hot pot, but rather the sauces are what makes it unique. The Chinese typically use plain water from the start, but I myself really enjoy Mongolian style hot pot because it's flavorful right from the get-go. After all, Mongolians did invent hot pot and brought it down to China, probably Sichuan (Szechuan) first. They even invented the style of food called Korean BBQ in which meat was grilled upon metals shields and open fire. If you've eaten at Mon Land Hot Pot or Little Fat Sheep, then you've had this flavorful dish. The soup used for dipping/cooking is simply an awesome array of over 35+ ingredients that really creates a nice aroma throughout your house. And for us, there's nothing more homey than a hot pot meal.

So rather than push each other's button on which type of hot pot we should do, we did a little compromise. A remix basically. We both get to buy our own goodies, use our own sauces and enjoy. She likes udon, I like my bean thread vermicelli. She hates my fish cake but throw in some dumplings to make her happy. Luckily, she digs the Mongolian flavor and I like this kimchi flavor package she uses from time to time. So everyone is happy. Here's what we eat.

Mongolian Japanese Hot Pot

According to a waitress at Little Fat Sheep, she said there are over 50+ ingredients for their hot pot. Forget trying to recreate this at home and look for this brand with an imitation 'little sheep' cartoon on it. It even SAYS 'fat sheep' in Chinese too. I think this one tastes the most like Little Fat Sheep and Mon Land Hot Pot and will cost you only $1.79. They have two flavors... the one pictured above is regular and there is a spicy one. What we usually do is use the plain one for the base and add the spicy one in for kick – probably only 3-4 tablespoons are needed. I got this at the Shun Fat Supermarket on San Gabriel Blvd. & Valley Blvd. in San Gabriel. These were so good I bought like 15 packs of each flavor, walking around like I'm on that Supermarket Spree gameshow.

Mongolian Japanese Hot Pot

This is the ingredient that separates Mainland China (typically Northern) from the rest of Chinese cuisine. It's cold up there and they like food that will keep them warm inside, even numbing the mouth. These is red peppercorn powder, or as its labeled, prickly ash powder. One teaspoon of this and the packaged broth is taken to another level. It has a slight 'limey' taste on the tongue, but it's really a numbing feeling.

Mongolian Japanese Hot Pot

You can simply pour the flavor package into a pot with water and proceed to eat. But to really call it your own, you can try adding a few things. I like to add shrimp shells, 4-5 ginger slices, daikon and some garlic. Adds a real nice flavor to it all.

Mongolian Japanese Hot Pot

Here you can see the Japanese and Chinese melting pot in action. I've got my Chinese/Chiu Chow meat/fish balls and she's got her beef and fish cakes.

Mongolian Japanese Hot Pot

In Chinese hot pot, you usually eat napa cabbage, spinach and hollowed morning glory. But napa cabbage is the common denominator in our remix. Along with Japanese leeks, dumplings and usually 3 types of mushrooms including shitake, king and shimeji. King mushrooms are the best because you can cut them somewhat thick for a 'meatier' texture.

Mongolian Japanese Hot Pot

In Chinese hot pot, this is a popular condiment: Bullhead satay barbecue sauce (sa cha jiang). A potent sludge that is made with chilis, dried shrimp, small fish, shallots and oil. I cannot live without this sauce. A lot of people use this differently and I was taught by my parents to add an egg into this sauce with some soy sauce, green onions and cilantro. Some people like vinegar in it as well. Either way, everything that goes into the hot pot will be dunked in this sauce. Mmmmm.

Mongolian Japanese Hot Pot

Jeni likes these sauces. On the left you have goma dare, which is a sesame sauce. She will grind fresh sesame seeds with her mortar and add this for a nice aroma. On the right, you have ponzu, a citrus-based sauce that is as dark as soy sauce but is made with mirin, vinegar and seaweed. Both are solid sauces.

Mongolian Japanese Hot Pot

And here are a few important utensils: chopsticks and scooper to get the runaway bits.

Mongolian Japanese Hot Pot

I'm up for trying new hot pot ingredients or sauces. How do YOU hot pot? Thanks for reading.


justJENN said...

I make sukiyaki in my nabe. I believe it tasted best in front of the tv...til I had kids. Yikes. Miss those days.

nakedsushi said...

Mmm, hot pot. I'm more of a Mongolian hotpot fan myself and luckily so is the BF. We like the spicy pre-made package with all the chili and peppercorns they can pack in a small bag. Unfortunately, I eat meat and he doesn't so we end up having veggie hot pot at home =( I need to get one of those partitioned pots so I can get my meat on and he can still have his veggie broth.

The last time we made it came out fine but maybe a bit too face-meltingly spicy.

KirkK said...

Hey Dylan - Can't you just get one of those Yuan Yang Guo style pot. You know, the one with the split down the middle? That way you can both get what you want.

e d b m said...

JustJENN, hot pot and DVDs/TV go well together. if you really want to keep it authentic, you have to rent those cheesy periodic Chinese soap operas – where the men have longer hair than the women.

NakedSushi, see it's all about compromise. If you both got your own pot, you both would look very selfish ahah.

KirkK, you know I've tried looking for that but it'll make us look like we both have germs or something haha.

Eleana said...

Satay with raw egg, soy sauce and lots of green onion is amazing! At the very end, when there is just a bit left, I pour some broth in, stir it all up and drink it ... mmmm

Haruna said...

My favorite nabe is kim-chi nabe. But then I also love putting oysters in konbu (kelp) broth with lots of veggies. But my real favorite part is when you use the left-over broth to make udon or 'tamago-toji' (cooking left over rice in the broth at the end, and pour beaten egg over it, simmer it with the lid on, and voila! Have you heard of 'yami-nabe'? That's fun too!

e d b m said...

Eleana, that's hardcore because that sauce is SALTY haha. But hey it's America, you can do whatever you want.

Haruna, i can see how the oysters would make the broth taste really good. The leftover broth dish sounds fantastic.

Pandalicious said...

i love little fat sheep! the spicy broth is so much better than the plain one.. as far as hot pot goes, i'm all about the winter melon and thinly sliced beef. mix it all up with some satay sauce, raw egg and scallions and it's soo yummy!

great post!

Michelle said...

We do the Vietnamese style hotpot: sweet & sour with pineable, fresh chilies and herbs =)

dr. oc2pus said...

I want your hotpot

e d b m said...

Pandalicious, oh yeah wintermelon is tasty. Try this sauce out, it'll save you some money versus spending $30-40 at LFS.

Michelle, that sounds great. What kind of stuff do you guys cook in it? And how about the dipping sauce?

Dr. Octopus, I want to cook you in the hot pot.

Tsz said...

Hi, I'm new to blogging but I have been reading your blog for some time—you take some of the most mouth-watering pictures out there!

As for hot pot styles, my family is Cantonese so we use chicken broth, dried salted duck leg and ginger for the base. And for the dipping sauce, we do a grated ginger and green onion sauce, much like the stuff that comes with Hainan chicken... now I'm craving hot pot.

Michelle said...

Hi Dylan, for the soup, I do this (all in the same pot):
- Fry shallot, take them out when they are crispy
- Fry garlic (same pot), take them out when they're golden
- Sautee ground lemongrass until it's fragrant
- Pour in chicken stock (or just sautee shrimp shells and then pour in water). Season with fish sauce, sugar, salt
- When boiled, add chunks of pineable (lots of it) + tomatoes + thai bird chilies
- Add lime juice, or vinegar or tamarind pulp if you have it. I also squeeze in some juice from 1/3 of the pinable. It should taste a bit sweet + sour
- Sprinkle minced sawtooth herb (ngò gai ) + rice paddy herb (ngò om) + green oninon + fried garlic and shallot before you start eating the hotpot

For dipping sauce, I fry garlic + ground lemongrass until fragrant. And then I add sugar + bit of water and boil it until it's a bit thick (but not caramelized yet), and then add fish sauce + lime juice (or tamarind pulp whatever fit your taste =)). It should be thickish, primarily sweet and a bit sour and salty

This is the base for the Vietnamese hot and sour soup..hehehe..You probably had this soup before. The real soup has alot more ingredients. My tummy rumbled just from reading your hotpot post!!!!

e d b m said...

TSZ, it's funny, I'm Cantonese Chinese as well and we've never eaten it that way. My parents have always preferred the plain water for broth and the satay/raw egg/scallion sauce.

Michelle, thank you so much for posting that. It really does sound great. I like that fish sauce is used for flavoring. If we do this, I'll be crediting you for sure. Thanks.

Tigger mum said...

It's hot pot season here (Toronto) ... it's 4*C!!! We always do the "Yin-Yang" hot pot here at home eventhough there is only 3 of us (2 adults + 1 5yr). Both my husband & I love spicy (from Malaysia) and our son hasn't caught up with our spicy taste buds yet!

So, we have 1 side (heat up a little oil with chopped onions and garlic - brown and top with Chicken broth), and the other Tong Yum Soup.

Our Dipping sauce - hubby, Yeo's BBQ Sauce and me ... same as you, Bull's head for sure! And my little man, hoisin sauce!

I can feel another hot pot dinner coming up!!!

p/s: Will be visiting my bro next year ... can't wait to try out all those restaurants!!!

Suzanne Tadros said...

Loves it Dylan. Keep up the yummy work! This hot pot thing sound fab.... I must say i am a serious fan of Tom Yum Goong (since our honeymoon to Thailand)... Not exactly what your talkin about here - but that's my 2 cents. :-) I seriously need to venture out of thai obsession and try this!

e d b m said...

Tigger Mum/Suzanne, i really enjoy hearing about different styles of hot pot. it's such a simple dish that hits home even in its many incarnations. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Since I've found chinese hot pot and sa cha sauce I've been totally addicted. Aside from that version, our family either goes with the vietnamese sour soup broth that Michelle mentions or a more southern rendition that uses fermented fish (aka lau mam - lau= hot pot , mam = fermented fish).

Lau mam is made by combining pork stock with fermented fish, lemongrass, pineapple chunks, fried garlic and shallots to create a base soup that is savory, sweet, and pungent. We eat this with vermicelli noodles, chinese eggplant, viet herbs, ong choy, and a array of seafood. For added kick sometimes we'll also add in some pork belly to the mix. Dipping sauce is usually just a simple nuoc cham or some folks like it with soy sauce and chilies.

Hmm...posts like these make me seriously hungry! Love it though ;)


e d b m said...

Anh, thanks for posting that. Both you and Michelle have really sparked my interest in a Vietnamese style hot pot. I might have to get the mother in law in the mix on this!

One Food Guy said...

I love how simple the names of some of those products are: fat sheep, bull head. Nothing like getting creative with your brand.

And for the record: I love hot pot and hate fish balls.

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