Holidays mean family gatherings. Family gatherings means having relatives from parts distant coming to visit, which in turn often leads to the family gathering over food. I’m sure most people’s families have special dishes they bust out for the holidays, or perhaps you associate certain dishes with favorite people/memories (or not so favorite, as may be the case.)
In the winter, for me there’s nothing better to gather around with your family and/or friends than hot pot, called huo guo in Mandarin, or shabu shabu in Japanese. The premise is simple. You have an electric pot/chafing dish filled with boiling broth and on the table are lots of things to dip and cook in the broth. Like fondue, but tastier and way healthier. You can put pretty much anything in the pot; noodles, veggies, meats, seafood, and you can get really creative with the broths you use…Everyone has their own wire basket to put in raw ingredients, lets it sit for a while in the bubbling broth, and then you just pull it out when it’s cooked. Top with your choice of condiments, and it’s a deliciously easy way to feed a lot of people, and very healthy because there’s no oil or butter involved (sorry, Paula Dean!).
It is comforting to eat this in winter, but I’m perfectly willing to eat this in the heat of summer as well (as evidenced by my many trips to hot pot restaurants during my summer in Taiwan). And of course, it’s best eaten with lots of people to fight over the last shrimp with, to hold contests on who can eat the most with, to secretly put the things you don’t want in their baskets with…Below is a picture from a recent hot pot gathering at my house:
I most likely won’t be posting this weekend, as it is Christmas, so don’t be looking for an update! Go enjoy your well-deserved breaks and your family reunions. Go eat lots of food and unwrap presents and go frolic around in the snow (or the deliciously warm sun, in my case). Happy Holidays from me to you 🙂