Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cooked/ing (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

In my favorite movie of all time (Peking Opera Blues -- for those of you who don't yet know), a certain Chinese dish's name get rendered in the film's English subtitles as sukiyaki. While not completely incorrect, in that, like the Japanese "steamboat"-style dish, that which is known in Cantonese -- the dominant language of Hong Kong, Macau (where the above photograph was taken), Mainland China's Guangdong Province and many a Chinatown in "the West" -- as ta pin lo could be described as Asian versions of the Swiss fondue, its name usually gets more prosaicly translated into English as "hot pot".

As can be imagined from its English name, hot pot is a steaming hot dish that's really ideal for cooler climes and times of the year. However, its popularity is such that many people, including myself, are perfectly happy to partake of it on hot and humid as well as cooler and/or drier days. And, as it so happened, ta pin lo was what I had as my first full meal after arriving in Hong Kong earlier this month (despite it being a period when temperatures tend to hover in the high 20s on the Centigrade or Celsius scale)!

Ask someone what hot pot ingredient (s)he likes best and you're likely to get a whole bunch of different answers. This is due in large part to there being, in the words of one hot pot lover, "nearly as many types of hot pot as there are regional dialects in China". And, also, a whole range of ingredients to boot.

For example, some of the more delicious items that were put into the boiling hot water of the communal pot from which I recently ate included incredibly tender as well as thinly sliced slices of Wagyu beef, long pieces of chewy cuttlefish and small segments of smooth geoduck (which actually is more clam than a member of the regular duck family). And if you think that they all already sound incredibly exotic, I'm going to direct you to the items on the plate in the upper left hand corner of the above photo and tell you that they're actually -- no, I really kid you not! -- chicken penises!!!!

Still, lest it be thought otherwise, hot pots -- including even some that I've had a part in eating -- can feature more conventional ingredients. For instance, what we've got being cooked in the pot in the photo are some prawns on sticks along with some kind of green vegetables. Oh, and for those -- like myself -- who've long wondered about the differences between shrimps and prawns, it seems that a shrimp is a shrimp and a prawn is a shrimp but not all shrimps are prawns... ;b


Lynn said...

I thought of hotpot when I saw your picture. It's quite popular these days since it's fanciful being able to cook your own meal on your own table in a restaurant. :)

Anonymous said...

Chicken penises? Oh my, I'd have to pass on that one!

MsCarolM said...

I think I'll pass on the chicken penises, too! Great photo though!

Just Jan said...

i have never heard of hotpot before until now. sounds very interesting indeed.

my roasted pork supper is up.

Anonymous said...

My favorite hotpot 'style' is where everyone cooks/eats from one communal bowl. Sometimes the hotpot pot has a divider so there are two types of broth/liquid. Last month my daughter and I discovered a newly opened restaurant in Montreal's Chinatown whose speciality is lamb. We spent 3 plus hours cooking a variety of meats, veggies, tofu, etc in two broths-one rather bland, the other very spicy. The restaurant served one brand of beer, Tsingtao, which nicely complimented the hotpot.

on the Rock said...


Anonymous said...

I thought of the hot pot also. Hong is so beautiful!! Great photo this week.

Jennifer said...

Very interesting information. I'll totally pass ont he chicken penises - gak! But what's cooking in your photo looks pretty yummy!

Anonymous said...

it looks cool...hotpot or steam boat has always been one of my favourites :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful photo!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear/see that you're getting to have some good food. (And it looks like there's some beer, too.)

As for the hot pot ingredients, I think I'd stick the vaguely identified green vegetables...If it's a vegetable, I'll try anything.

YTSL said...

Hi Lynn --

Hey, noticed when I visited your blog that you mention hotpot in your Photo Hunt entry too... :)

Hi Amy and Carol --

I'm of the "don't knock it until you've tried it" school with regards to food. So I tried just one of those chicken penises...but won't be ordering that dish for myself any time soon. ;D

Hi bbsgirl --

Hotpot is highly recommended. And I promise that I will go over to visit your blog (and others) after I'm done commenting here... :)

Hi sbk --

I prefer the "no divider" option too. At the same time, maybe if we have hotpot together, we'll have to go for a divider as I get the sense that you prefer the spicier broth/soups whereas I prefer the kind you term "bland"... ;b

Hi "on the Rock" --

Indeed! ;D

Hi tegdirb92 --

You've got me curious: What *does* your user name come from? ;D

Hi Jennifer --

What's cooking was pretty yummy: Re the chicken wasn't so much the taste but, rather, that they felt like very liquidy sausages... ;(

Hi Bengbeng --

Love Malaysian style steamboat but have to say that Hong Kong and Macau hotpots really do seem to be more interesting and generally tasty... :)

Hi Vader's Mom --

Thanks! :)

Hi Alejna --

Actually, that's tea in those glasses. But, yes, I've been having some good beer over here in Hong Kong -- and would you believe that just today, I got myself a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at a supermarket here (that also had Sam Adams Lager in stock)? :b

srp said...

Now the shrimp and prawn thing is very, very confusing, isn't it. I would stick with the conventional ingredients though.

-tnchick- said...

Oh, I'd have to pass on the chicken, too. I don't eat shrimp much either... unless it's deep fried. I might could handle the greens!

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm- wankers.

YTSL said...

Hi srp --

The thing is, though, that what's conventional in one society may not be so in another... ;S

Hi tnchick --

The wagyu beef is highly recommended...that is, unless you're a vegetarian! Re vegetables: Mushrooms of all kinds (shitaki, button, etc.) go very well in hot pots, methinks. :b

Hi "high strangeness altoona" --

Wankers? Not quite! ;D

eliza bennet said...

I guess I'm the only one who preferes individual hot pots. I know it is maybe against the philosophy of the dish but really no one else can enjoy chilis as much as I do and I also tend to go easy on the green heavy on beef and lamb (yeah sometimes together, total carnivore). So my noodles at the end are eye watering hot and sauce meat heavy. Not everyone likes that :)

YTSL said...

Hi "eliza bennet" --

Yeah, "individual hot pot" does seem oxymoronic to most. But, yeah, I guess, whatever floats your boat, as the saying goes... ;)

GoldenRockProductions said...

Actually, Hong Kong fast food places like Cafe De Coral and Maxim had individual hot pot sets. You order it, and someone will actually bring out the stove, pot, and food, and you do everything else yourself. I think that's only available during the winter though, and I have no idea how the meat is since I didn't try it when I was there.

just me said...

Hello, how are you? I'm back from Sichuan, China and finally back online again. I had hotpot in Sichuan too but it was the yin-yang kind with one of the soups being made with Sichuan chillis and peppercorn. Very spicy and better known as Ma La Huo Guo.


YTSL said...

Hi goldenrockproductions --

"Actually, Hong Kong fast food places like Cafe De Coral and Maxim had individual hot pot sets."

That may be true enough but Cafe de Coral and Maxim -- where I do occasionally lunch, especially when I'm in a hurry and want something convenient, etc. -- aren't the kind of places I associate with good hotpot! ;b

Hi "just me" --

I'm fine, thanks for asking. A bit tired though. Am doing so much at work and beyond while over here in Hong Kong. E.g., this Saturday, only got out from work at around 2 pm and this evening, am going to join a friend in having a quick bite before heading off to attend a French gypsy swing group perform at the Sheung Wan Civic Centre (an interesting multi-storey establishment with a wet market on the bottom floors and Culture with a capital c above!)...and, in between, I'll have a bit of a rest as well as write up another entry for this blog. :)