Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hot pot time again!

Beautifully red and raw mutton -- all ready
to be cooked in a hot pot, then eaten (nay, savored!)

A hot pot filled with my absolute favorite
hot pot ingredient -- sweet corn! --
as well as green vegetables and fried tofu

As I write this blog, the temperature's hovering at the 20 degree Celsius (~ 68 degrees Fahrenheit) mark. I realize that makes for balmy weather in places like Wisconsin (AKA the Siberia of America -- where I spent my college years) but in Hong Kong, it means that winter has finally come -- and this year around, come so suddenly that we effectively only had about two to three weeks of autumn!

While there may be people who might wish to argue whether it's now winter or still autumn in the Big Lychee, there's little doubt that 'tis the season once more to enjoy hot pot -- one of those dishes that I have come to identify as being quintissentially Hong Kong after seeing so many Hong Kong movies in which people are to be seen enjoying it.

More than incidentally, mutton -- considered as "heaty" by the Chinese -- is the meat of choice for quite a few people in winter here. And mutton really is pretty tasty when cooked in a hot pot. On the other hand, the other meat favored by some Hong Kongers is something I don't think I ever will develop much of a taste for; and not just because the creatures they come from -- snakes -- are among those whose appearance really does freak me out but, also, because the meat is invariably cooked with lots of horrible smelling herbs that supposedly are good for you but just make me want to run a mile away from it all! ;(


Glenn, kenixfan said...

Interesting looking hot pot there!

The sound of sweet corn and fried tofu sounds good to me but I have to ask: how does one eat that corn? The cobs are too hot to hold after cooking, right? Or does the corn fall off the cob while cooking?

If "winter" in Hong Kong is 68 F then I think I'm only packing shortsleeve shirts for my Christmas/New Year's sojourn.

ewaffle said...

More lovely images of food...I have to remember not to check your blog just before we go out for dinner--now I am twice as hungry as I was a moment ago!

Snake meat cooked with lots of smelly herbs. Eating it is good for you. Sounds like it should be in a pharmacy not a restaurant.

Dragonstar said...

The mutton hotpot sounds rather good, and I like fried tofu, but I don't like the sound of the snake version! None of it sounds much like a traditional English hotpot :)

Willow said...

I used to not like hot pot. Always seemed rather time-consuming and was rather labor-intensive. As I've modified my technique (dump a bunch of ingredients in and fish them out a minute or 2 later) and eaten at more places, I like it enough now. The key is to have good ingredients and to forget about the sieve.

YTSL said...

Hi Glenn --

Re the corn: well... you can either eat it with chopsticks or wait until it cools down a bit and then use your hands to hold it.

And re temperatures: not so fast... as I write, it's now 11 degrees Celsius (~52 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of Hong Kong!

Hi ewaffle --

Teehee re your comments! Re those post reading my snake meat comments -- well, a lot of Chinese medicine is preventative and dietary-based. So... yes, there is a line of thought where eating is medicinal and/or therapeutic.

Hi Dragonstar --

Yes, it's all quite a long way from Lancashire hot pot, isn't it? ;b

Hi Willow --

I like hot pot's communal qualities. Also, yes, it takes a while to cook and eat it all but remember that different foods cook at different speeds. E.g., cuttlefish and kidney cook fast -- in contrast to, say, corn. (And yes, I like all three of those foods! ;b)

A. @ A Changing Life said...

Not at all the same thing as Lancashire hotpot, albeit using the same meat. The mutton looks entirely different though, with that reddish colouring and different presentation. Is it sliced very finely and then rolled up?

Anonymous said...

Although this is similar to steam boat, I have never tried a hot pot (like what I see on discovery travel) before.

Having slices of beef in the hot spicy broth would be nice.

YTSL said...

Hi A. --

Yes, indeedy, re the mutton being sliced very finely and then rolled up. :)

Hi Mei Teng --

Yes, very similar to steamboat and yet not completely the same. In Hong Kong, there are more choices of soup base for the hot pot and ingredients to cook it in compared to Malaysian steamboats.

Brian said...

Snakes reminds me of a friend who I went to a zoo with a few years back who suddenly got really excited when he saw a sign for snakes. We went rushing in only to be surrounded by hotdogs and popcorn. It was "snacks" that was misspelled. But I guess in HK it could be both!

YTSL said...

Hi Brian --

Thanks for sharing your snake/snack story. Have been inspired to post about another linguistic booboo because of it!

At the same time, also will point out that snakes is hardly snack food in Hong Kong. Rather, it's on the expensive as well as acquired taste side -- and, like I previously noted, tends to be eaten because it's supposed to be good for -- and warms -- you.

eliza bennet said...

I can vouch for the snake being not weird. I ate it in HK and it was a good culinary experience. There were lots of herbs and at one point I forgot that I was eating snake.

And I love hot pots and the thinly sliced meat with your choice of soup base. In China you can also have individual hot pots (one pot per person) in the same table and I like it best since I love my soup really loaded with chillies and not many people prefer that.

YTSL said...

Hi "eliza bennet" --

I know what you mean about the snake meat "being not weird". But unlike you, the herbs were what made me realize I was eating snake -- even when my mother tried to pretend to me that it was otherwise! ;b

Re hot pot: in Hong Kong, you can get the hot pot divided into two halves. This way, one half can have spicy soup and the other some less spicy soup. (My preference, BTW, is for the clear soup with thousand year old egg to help sweeten it!)