I know I have called it hungover Monday, but to be clear, this is not a new weekly special, I have no intention of being hungover every Monday. Yesterday was a heavy night as it was my works staff party, belated for the Christmas but fun anyway. Many glasses of wine (bottles) and a few lemoncello’s later we were well and truly wrecked. I awoke to that deadly heavy headed feeling you get after far too much wine. What does the hungover mind crave? Comfort food. Now many find themselves drawn to burgers, pizza or a fry up but I have a very different hangover cure/ craving. A Chinese Hotpot.
When living in China I had many a hotpot. In fact I believe I have mentioned it in my blog previously because its so good it has to be mentioned twice. I eat it with a hangover but regularly the Chinese eat it drunk. Its a social occasion as the hotpot bowl is shared amongst as many as 8 people alongside a chilled beer. The hotpot restaurants are like a Seven Eleven, they are open 24 hours for your catering needs. After clubs when we had munchies we headed straight for the hotpot joint, got ourselves private room and munched out.
The Chinese Hotpot is nothing like a British One, its not a casserole its like a big boiling broth for sipping and dipping. Eating is not just a meal, its an experience. Its entertainment as you spend time popping food in with chopsticks, mixing a variety of herbs and spices in your personal bowl for dipping fun, boiling your food and removing it. If you like playing with food this is for you, it is cheese fondue to the oriental diner. I find its the only time when I spend time eating. Usually I eat so fast that I barely breath through mouthfuls, the work during the eating process of popping in, waiting to cook, removing, dipping then eating slows the process ensuring a far healthy pace.
Nothing beats a hotpot on a cold winters day. Funny enough today was both snowing, and I had alcohol in my system, so this was quite possibly the most perfect moment to have it.
Me and my boyfriend started on our preparations for the meal. One half of the hotpot will me hot and numb broth, the other a simple chicken broth.
HOW TO MAKE IT
(1) we cut and washed our choice of vegetables. Washing all our greens and leaving mushrooms unwashed to reduce goopiness. My favourite vegetables to use are a selection of mushrooms (Oyster & Enoki are the best!), Chinese Cabbage, Pak Choi, and Chinese Greens.
(2) We then prepped the broth. The broth is a mixture between our own ingredients and a pre made hotpot mixture that we purchased from Loon Fung Oriental Wholesaler. The own ingredients were:
the frying of peppercorns, anise, spicy bean paste, chilli flakes, dried chilli’s, and dried oriental mushrooms mixed with a premade spicy hot pot broth package. Sichuan Chilli and bean paste go well too. The other side of the broth is less spicy and is made with: The chicken broth was also with premade package, spring onion, Goji Berries (optional), coriander, garlic, and Chicken Stock.
(3) Leaving it to boil and infuse, we pull out all our additional material such as the cutlery (chopsticks, small dipping bowls, hotpot spoons) and our extra dipping sauces such as Chilli Oil, Bean Paste, Soya Sauce, Coriander, and chopped Garlic.
When it is hot, and left to stew for abit, food is served. For meat thin slices of meat such as beef and lamb are recommended. We get hotpot lamb from the Loon Fung which is extremely thin making it easy to cook and infuse the flavour in the meat. Alternatively, thin sliced meat would do the trick. Other optional add ons are Noodles, and at the end of the meal, cracking an egg in the broth is yummy. The egg retains shape in the natural chilli oils and is yummy! Its delicious, fun, and you definitely receive at minimum of one of your five a day.