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Savour the hotpot


IT IS the weekend, with loads of folks at home. What is the best meal option where every one can join in? Why not try the Mongolian hotpot that has been a roaring success with Kochiites. So go ahead and try it out.

The traditional Mongolian fire pot, or hot pot, as it is also known, is positioned in the centre of a large round table over a charcoal fire. The pot is filled with simmering broth and everybody cooks their own meal by using wooden chopsticks, or small baskets to suspend pieces of meat and vegetables in the hot stock. Plates with paper-thin slices of meat, seafood, and bean thread vermicelli and different vegetables are arranged around it. The meat, or other cooking ingredients are dipped into one or more of the seasonings, served separately in small bowls on the table. At the end of the meal, all the remaining vegetables and side dishes are added to the broth, and the banquet is finished off with the bowls of the resulting rich soup, from the fire pot.

The Mongolian hot pot is traditionally cooked in a magnificent, intricately decorated brass pot, sitting over a brazier, that would radiate heat on cold winter nights from glowing charcoal embers, enhancing the dinners pleasure. This is a truly communal method of cooking and eating.

Ingredients

Chicken stock- 2.5 lit
Dried shrimp- 10gms
Black mushrooms- 25gm
Button mushrooms- 25gm
Chinese cabbage- 400gm
Pickled garlic- 90gms
Celery- 15gms
Leeks- 15gms
Fresh coriander- 25 gm
Soaked bean thread vermicelli- 90 gm
Bean curd- 120 gms
Steamed rice- 240 gms
Vegetable noodles- 240 gms
Seasonings or Dips
Sesame paste- 3 tbs
Rice wine/dry- 120 ml
Chilli oil- 2 tbs
Preserved Bean curd- 100 gms (optional)
Dark Soya sauce- 100 ml
Shrimp paste- 2 tbs
Light Soya sauce- 100 ml
Meat / Poultry / Sea Food
Lamb-300 gms
Beef- 300 gms
Chicken- 300 gms
Fish- 300 gms
Prawns- 300 gms
Squid- 300 gms

Method

Fill the fire pot or other vessel suitable for table- top cooking with the stock and add the dried shrimp. Drain the mushrooms, remove the steams, dice the caps and add to the stock.

Slice the lamb, beef, chicken, and fish very thinly (made easy by partially freezing it beforehand) and arrange on plates. Wash the Chinese cabbage, cut into dices and place in a plate.


Pour warm water over the bean thread vermicelli to soften, drain and arrange on a plate. Cut the bean curd into dices and arrange on a plate. Place the garlic and chopped coriander, celery, leeks on plates.

Arrange all the plates around the fire pot on the dining table. Serve at least 2 small bowls of each seasoning/dip and place it in the table with spoons.

Give each guest one bowl to eat from, one or two small bowls for mixing the sauce, and a pair of wooden chopsticks.

In home conditions these fire pots can be organised by arranging a stainless steel kadai and a small charcoal sigidi or a single range gas burner, which will be cheaper cost wise. The sigidi can be filled with live charcoal and a stainless steel kadai placed on top.

Boiling stock can be poured into it and it can be placed on the table. In place of charcoal sigidi a small gas range can be used on the table. The food is low in calorie and healthier in nature as there is no oil involved in the cooking process.

Almost all ingredients are available locally, so happy cooking and healthy eating.

Bon appetite

The writer is an Oriental Chef at Taj Malabar, Kochi.

He can be contacted at: behera_in@yahoo.com

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