I made hot pot! Of course I was sharing with friends and my Dutch "family". For those of you who don't know, hot pot is a popular dish all around Asia and some of you might know it as shabu-shabu or Chinese fondue. What it is, is super tasty. It's basically a bubbling broth or soup that you cook your food in. Often times for hot pot you have thinly sliced meats, vegetables, tofu products and noodles which you cook, almost instantly in the hot broth. So for my Christmas hot pot we had a spicy Szechuan broth that we bought at an Asian market and added Szechuan peppers, scallion and ginger to and a mushroom broth for those who didn't like spicy. You can buy these pre-made stocks in Asian markets or make your own pretty easily. Or do what I did and vamp up a pre-made stock. And if you're afraid that your broth doesn't taste too great don't worry, by the time you swish all your sides into the broth to cook, it'll taste amazing. Also there's a load of dipping sauces that you can make to dip the assortment of meats, dumplings and veg in once they're cooked. For this dinner I made 4 dipping sauces which I made by taste. Mainly consisting of soy sauce, chili oil, balsamic vinegar and some sugar. If you really want recipes for them I'll devote some time to it later.
For the sides, which are treated much like fondue sides, we used thinly sliced ribeye beef, pork wontons, button, Chinese and shiitake mushrooms, rice noodles, bean thread noodles, bok choy, thinly sliced chicken, whole shrimp, fried tofu, regular tofu, and bean curd.
The bulk of the time preparing for hot pot is actually preparing the side dishes. Otherwise the cooking time is a snap because you cook every piece individually like a fondue. This is a great party dinner. It's fun and messy and there's always a ton of food!
Anyways, after dinner we had a stunning panda cake which was a complete surprise to me, was made for me as a belated birthday present.
Bit wonky in some places but it is probably the best birthday present I've ever received. So much sweat, blood and panda tears went into this cake. Was very tasty too. Almond cake with marzipan. I have no idea how it was made but it made me happy.