Cold Weather Means Hot Pot Season

51-hotpot-01 Despite having grown up in Edmonton, AB, where its winters bring blankets of snow and temperatures that dip down to the frigid -28 C/-18 F, the change from summer to fall/winter weather is bittersweet. Northern California’s fall/winter is significantly milder, but I still shiver and cringe at the cold. At the same time, however, I am thankful that Northern California has cold seasons because I think it is the best time to start the hot pot season.

Hot pot refers to dining with a simmering pot of stock/soup and cooking thinly sliced meats/seafood, leaf vegetables, dumplings and noodles in the soup as you eat. Hot pot is generally shared amongst friends where cooking is done in a communal pot of soup at the centre of the table. However, there are venues that now offer individual hot pots where each guest has a personal-sized and custom soup. Hot pot can be thought of as a fondue but with stock/soup, vegetables and meat. Delicious, comforting, warm and fun – especially when shared with good company.

51-hotpot-03 There are many terms and varieties of Asian hot pot:
  •   Chinese: hot pot, or “fire pot” from its literal Chinese-to-English translation
  •   Japanese: shabu-shabu
  •   Korean: sinseollo
51-hotpot-02 Some of my choice hot pot places in Canada:
  •   Pearl Hot Pot (Burnaby, BC)
  •   Posh Hot Pot (Burnaby and Richmond, BC)
  •   Top Gun Hot Pot (Burnaby, BC)
51-hotpot-04 Some of my choice hot pot venues in Silicon Valley:
  •   One Pot Shabu Shabu (Cupertino, CA)

These sauces are commonly paired and served on the side with Chinese hot pot for dipping your cooked vegetables and meats to add some extra zest:
  •   chill hot sauce
  •   hoisin
  •   sesame sauce
  •   shacha sauce or sacha sauce
  •   soy sauce

Some hot pot venues include customizing your own dipping sauce. Sauces, slivered ginger, minced garlic and cilantro are carted to each hot pot table, and mixed together according to each guest’s preferences.

At Chinese hot pot restaurants, sour plum juice (or suan mei tang) is often an available beverage. Tangy, sweet and cool to the taste.

(Please note that dipping sauces and sour plum juice (or suan mei tang) may not always be complimentary.)

Stay warm!

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