“Blissful hotpot meal for the family and friends!”

Hey hey!  Long time no see! Still within the 15 days of Lunar New Year. I wish all a very Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Guess we all are having elaborated meals so often during the season. Me, too, have been enjoying great sumptiuous food almost every other day for the past 2 weeks.. Well, I always repeat this statement: “Ok.. will keep fit and go on diet after the 15th of Lunar New Year..” Wahaha..

Anyway, I made hotpot/ steamboat meal at home, of course. Hotpot meal is almost a MUST in this Chinese festive, for several reasons. In winter countries, eating hotpot keeps the family warm, physically and heartedly. In my year-long-summer Singapore, we have hotpot during festive to symbolise togetherness of the family. Also, Chinese believed that hotpot meal, where a metal pot of soup stock base (choices of spicy or non-spicy soup stock) is simmering at the center of the dining table, symbolises raising of wealth as liquid/ soup refers to money (风山水起), and the constant boiling motion of soup/ stock in the hotpot symbolises rolling of the ball of wealth (财源滚滚).. I loved hotpot where the family sits together surround the dining table to slowly enjoy such healthy hotpot meal, simply spoilt by the extensive choices of ingredients, pick and place whatever ingredients you like into the hotpot.

Hotpot (火鍋, Pronounced in Mandarin as Huo Guo, or 打邊爐, Pronounced in Cantonese as Da Bin Low).

Recommended hotpot food items (but not limited to):
Handful of assorted leavy vegetables:
Chinese cabbage
Chinese lettuce
Garland chrysanthemum aka “Tong O”, trimmed away sandy roots
Asparagus, halved crosswise
Raw sweet corn cob
Tora aka Yam, thickly sliced

Mushroom types:
12 – 15 large Button mushroom
6 large pieces of Abalone mushroom
1 stalk of Enokitake aka Golden needle mushroom, trimmed away sandy root ends

1 block/ roll of tofu aka beancurd (Plain/ Egg tofu), cut into cubes

10 of each ball:
Fish balls (Fried/ Raw)
Pork balls
Squid balls
Fish paste wanton
Hotdog/ Chipolata
Quail eggs, hard boiled
12 – 16 pieces of homemade wanton (See my wanton recipe here) or dumplings (See my dumpling recipe here)

Meat & seafood:
150 – 200 grams of deli-thin sliced meat (Beef/ Pork, usually frozen slices)
150 – 200 grams of chicken fillet, cut into bite size and seasoned with pinch of oyster sauce, soy sauce and pepper
200 grams of fish slices (*I used Batang fish and Red Snapper)
12 – 16 tails of large prawns with shell remained intact, trimmed and deveined
12 – 16 pieces of large mussles
3 – 4 pieces of flower crabs, cut into pieces
3 – 4 pieces of sea cucumber, cut and soaked to soften
1 pack of or canned razor clams or pacific clams or the usual hard clams
1 canned of cooked abalone, thinly sliced

Crabstick/ seafood stick

Choice of starchy food:
Cooked yellow noodles
Rice vercimilli aka Bee Hoon
Thin vercimilli aka Tong Fen
Udon

Ingredients for Herbal Chicken Soup Stock:
1 whole chicken back bone (whole bone shell)
1 teaspoon of Fructus Lycii aka Wolfberry “Gou Qi Zi” (枸杞子)
1 tablespoon of dried longan (桂圆)
5 pieces of Codonopsis Pilosulae “Dang shen” (黨參)
6 – 8 pieces each of dried Chinese Yam Root/ “Huai Shan” (淮山)
Touch of salt
1 large pot of water, 70% filled (about 3000ml)

Condiments to serve with:
Garlic chilli sauce
Light soy sauce

Method for Soup Stock:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat when boiled, add chicken bones, wolfberries, dried longan, dried Huai Shan and Dang Sheng. Simmer for 30 minutes to an hour over low heat. Add pinch of salt and stir well, about 5 minutes before heat off. Leave it on stove till needed later.

Just a touch of salt will do. Leave it more bland than usual as the flavour of soup will be enhanced once many food ingredients are added gradually.

Tips:
Arrange each food item ideally on separate dish or according to same food catogories. Never mix raw and cooked food together or serve in the same dish. Prepare and serve all on dining table.

When ready to start:
1) Prepare a pair of long-handled metal soup spoon and small wire basket for each diner.

2) Pour soup stock (half filled) into the eletrical hotpot or metal pot placed on a portable induction cooker/ stove, placed it at the centre of the dinning table.

3) Let the soup boil for a while. When started to simmer, add raw food items, especially those take longer time to cook ones, for instances, meat/ ribs, sweet corn, crabs, sea cucmber, and etc, into the simmering soup. These types of ingredients are good to be added first to flavour the soup. However, do not crowd the hotpot.

4) Cover pot with lid and bring the soup to a boil again, before reducing heat to let the food simmer a little while more to make sure food is well cooked.

5) As for those easily cooked food or already cooked food, for instances, prawns, deli-thin sliced beef/ pork, crabsticks, vegetables, fishballs, razor clams, abalone slices and etc, simply put the food on the small wire basket to blanch for 1 – 2 minutes, before eating.

Tips:
Refill soup stock whenever it runs low. If the soup base is thickened or tasted too salty, add water instead.
Amount and choice of food are adjustable to your appetite.