- C$26.99 for a tom yum hot pot meal for two (C$38.30 value)
Each tom yum hot pot features a melange of mussels, clam, shrimp, and squid. The hot pot is accompanied by orders of chicken satay, Thai fish cake, sliced beef, black fungus dumplings, lobster ball, fresh bean curd, box choy, thick rice vermicelli, and two different plum juices.
Hot Pot: When Every Diner is a Chef
Hot pots allow diners to interact with every part of their meal by cooking individual pieces of meat and vegetables at their own table. Continue reading to learn more about how hot pots transform every guest into a chef.
It’s unusual to eat a hot-pot meal alone. The inherently communal dining experience encourages groups of friends or family members to gather around a vessel filled with boiling water or, more commonly, seasoned broth. Drawing from an assortment of ingredients such as shrimp, spinach, tofu, mushrooms, bean sprouts, cabbage, noodles, and paper-thin slices of beef, diners plunk raw ingredients directly into the bubbling liquid.
This full-immersion cooking technique can heat the ingredients all the way through in as little as one minute, which encourages diners to keep watch until the time is just right to pluck out the morsels of meat and vegetables with a pair of chopsticks, a strainer, or a skewer. From there, diners finish the freshly cooked ingredients with dipping sauces such as hoisin, chili oil, rice-wine vinegar, sriracha, or sesame oil.
Credit for inventing and disseminating this technique has been bestowed on everyone from nomadic Mongolian tribes to Tang Dynasty northern Chinese. In any event, the practice almost certainly dates back more then 1,000 years. Early versions had chefs heating a ceramic or steel bowl over a pile of smoldering charcoal or dinosaur bones. Now, electric woks frequently serve as hot-pot vessels, although the cooking process remains unchanged.
Befitting its centuries-old history and expansion across China, hot-pot cooking boasts a number of regional variations. The Mongolian version is notable for its use of prime mutton as the main ingredient and sesame pancakes as a traditional side dish. Sichuan-style hot pot embraces the region’s iconic chilies and peppercorns. In fact, Sichuanese hot pots sometimes feature a divider down the middle of the vessel in order to heat two separate broths at once—one with incendiary levels of spice and one with a more restrained flavor, often portioned to create a yin-yang shape. Cantonese-style hot pot embraces the southern region’s bounty of seafood, commonly including shrimp, scallops, crabmeat, eels, and cuttlefish.