Adventures in Cantonese Cuisine Part 12 – Hot Pot

Winter in Hong Kong, and China in general, means one thing: hot-pot!

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And what with the chilly temperatures hitting Hong Kong recently, dangerous lows of 5 degrees coupled with 100% humidity, it took until our 4th restaurant to get a table last weekend. Now, eating hot-pot is an experience. And like many other experiences, like bungee jumping or a night out in Kirkcaldy, it’s not always the most enjoyable couple of hours. The basic idea is to boil a mind-boggling variety of meat and vegetables in a pot of boiling stock. Here’s a small snapshot of what I had:

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A selection ranging from shrimps, rashers of pork and lamb, corn, chicken wings and tofu, to frog, intestines, stomach and fish air-sacs (the things that look like inflated condoms in the right-hand picture – you have to pop them before cooking…) There are also fish and beef balls (balls made from fish and beef, not what you’re thinking) and, yes, that is a fish’s head. Unfortunately, I have no idea what those yellow tubes in the red basket were, but they tasted alright.

The problem I have with hot-pot is not the taste, although everything does merge and bubble together so that finally it all tastes the same. Nor is it the ingredients. I’m not a fussy, squeamish eater, really. It’s more the thought of adding a dripping, bloody chicken wing to cook alongside some broccoli. And the scum that inevitably floats to the surface, adding an air of dishwater to the scene. Still, it is an experience. And it does warm you up. Which is probably the point.

 

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