| Chinese style hot pot has several styles,
none of which are known in the west. The most popular
version is Mongolian Hot Pot as served in the famous
Chinese restaurant chain 'The Little Sheep' or 'Siu
Fai Yeurm' in Cantonese.
The dish is called either Dai Bein Lo or Sang Wu in
Cantonese. Both phrases meaning equivalent to a long
and relaxed journey (pastime [meal]) - often of many
The basic premise is you have a large pan of simmering
water on a hotplate, and add herbs and spices as a basic
stock. Most of these have a central divider, allowing
one half to be savoury and mild, whilst the other side
is chilli hot. There are ones that have a three-way
divider, but these are not common.
At home we use a standard single casserole like the
one pictured below. The device below it is a Chinese
portable hot plate with a range of temperature controls
(In Chinese of course). The casserole is over 1 foot
wide by 4 inches high. We use seasoning and water only,
supplying the hot and mild as dips. However, we recommend
a central divided one for entertaining guests, as this
is a lot of fun, and also quite delicious.
Basic Preparation for all Dishes
Using a casserole with two halves, you add ingredients
1. Stock as described below.
2. 1oz Bak
3. 2oz sliced ginger.
4. Several wardrobes of garlic,
whole peeled cloves only.
5. 1/2 oz thin celery stalks.
6. 1 or more leeks of 4 to 6
7. 10 Red Dates or rose hips.
8. 1 Handful white Chinese medicinal
1. 1 Tbsp seriously hot chilli
sauce = your choice.
2. 1 oz whole mustard seeds
3. 1 oz black whole Sichuan peppercorns.
4. A couple of the smallest dark
green seeds you can imagine. I have no idea what
these are, but they are wicked!
5. A little Ziran powder.
6. Half a dozen finely diced
"hot" red or green chilli's, including
the seeds. This is going to be very hot! Different
types of chilli's should be used.
The mild side only:
1. A couple star anise
2. 1oz red dates or Hong
Zhao, or use rose hips.
3. Several weird, small, ridged
nuts, or use whole nutmeg instead
4. A few long white mushrooms
- like 'Enoki (kaam jum goo)'.
5. One large tin of coconut milk,
and pay for a better quality one.
6.1 oz very small orange fruits
1/4 inch long drops and medicinal - called "Gay
I have now sourced these divided hot pot dishes, which come in four sizes. The cost is around £20 - $25 depending upon size and specifications + P & P from China. Let me know if you want one...
|The Basic Stock
Add 1 tin of good quality coconut milk to a large
pot or kettle, and add a tablespoon of chicken
bouillon granules. Add a hint of salt and pepper,
but just a smidgeon of both. Also add half a teaspoonful
of sesame seed paste or puree, and a little 5
Spice powder. Add about four pints of water and
bring to the boil stirring continuously at first
until settled, and then occasionally as it boils
and becomes full to flavour.
Make a second pot exactly the same, or double
the ingredients and size of kettle used originally.
Taste. This should be nice enough for you to want
to have a bowl as a soup. To begin with, this
should have the consistency of fat-free milk (Uggg!)
Leave on the lowest possible simmer, and check
infrequently to ensure there is enough water and
the stock is not too thick already.
Top up both sides with stock, which should take
all of the first kettle of stock. Present to table
by placing on the hot plate and turning up the
heat to maximum.
This is basically a type of "Cook it
Yourself", so you can add whatever
you like to either side. The main proviso
is that everything is cut really thin. Meat
should be wafer thin, and is sold for the
purpose in the freezer section of all Chinese
supermarkets. Vegetables such as potatoes
should be sliced to about 1/4 inch thick.
Wafer thin beef
Wafer thin lamb
Small chicken chunks
Fish slices or segments of a fish like haddock
Pigs brains - tastes just like pate and
really suits this dish!
Chinese like to eat lambs penis or chicken
intestines, but I have no problem skipping
these particular culinary delights.
Tripe cut into 2-inch squares.
Potatoes, Carrots, Chinese potatoes or Wu
Tao, Water Chestnuts, or anything similar.
Slice into 1/4 inch deep ovals and cook
for around 10 minutes. Therefore these need
to go in first, or earlier than you plan
on eating them.
Other great ingredients:
I would add several types of mushrooms to
this dish. A must are 'Straw', and Chinese
stick mushrooms - Enoki or Snowpuff Mushrooms.
Another standard are whole Black Mushrooms,
and any other mushroom you like, as all
work great with this dish.
I always look forward to adding the dried
beancurd gnarly sticks, which are actually
a medicine. They are also the only known
antidote to excess chilli (Apart from cream,
which is not sold in Canton), and work immediately
on the palate.
Wet green kelp is another stalwart ingredient
of Chinese hot pot, although again, I can
miss this one. However, the finely shredded
seaweed is quite edible from the mild side.
Chinese will always add one or several types
of leaves, which are usually added near
the end of the meal. Cheung Choi, Ba Choi,
Dai Ba Choi (Chinese leaves), Iceberg lettuce
etc; are all popular.
|From this list of cookable
items, which is by no means exhaustive,
you will realise that this dish gets better
the more people that are eating it. We find
ten is an ideal number, but more or less
Remember to top up both sides with the hot
stock every 15 minutes or so, and know many
people will enjoy a bowl of the resulting
soup near the end - it contains the essential
flavours of everything you have communally
There is not really much to add now for
a perfect and novel meal. However, I would
supply several dips of fine sesame seed
sauce - which can be bought in China ready
made in jars.
In the west I would add a roughly diced
mediterranean style salad with oils, and
a few bottles of chilled Chianti 'Classico'
and a bottle of Ouzo. In China, ice-cold
beers and 'Ba Zhao' (Rice Wine) work very
well so; eat, drink, and be merry!
For an excellent take on cooking this at home
- with many large pictures and full descriptions,
please see Chowtimes.com
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably
supported by our friends and various internet portals.