A Versatile Hot Pot Soup




Introduction: A Versatile Hot Pot Soup

About: Let's skip the pretentious titles. At present, I am a paper pusher. In the remainder of my life, I am a mother of two handsome grown men, a wife to a very patient man, a nana of two precious grandchildren,...

An authentic Hot Pot is an East Asian-inspired stew of sorts, a heated pot of broth at the center of a table, surrounded by a variety of meats, vegetables, seafood and / or other foods to be simmered in the soup before serving. While a group of friends and family would make the moment special, you need not make the soup on a grand scale, and can even combine everything into one single pot.

Read on to discover how versatile this wonderful soup is, and how easily it comes together.

Will you use vegetable broth? Chicken broth? Beef broth?

The options are numerous, and the recipe is very forgiving of alterations. In fact, I encourage you to try many variations, and soon, you'll come up with your own favorites!

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Step 1: The Recipe...

Thank you, Vivian Jao, for the recipe, and to Lucas Zarebinski for making the soup look so irresistibly good, I tore the recipe from a magazine and clung to it all this time.

Finally, an opportunity to mark this one off my culinary bucket list.

Step 2: Gather the Ingredients...

By no means are you limited to a strict list of ingredients for this Hot Pot,
but if you need a starting point, Vivian Jao's recipe is a good one!

3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
Fresh ginger - about 2" in length, peeled and sliced thinly
4 ounces of shiitake (or other) mushrooms (I used portobello due to lack of availability)
2 Tablespoons of chili paste, or garlic chili paste
2 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar (yes, light will suffice)
4 cups / 1 - 32 ounce carton of chicken, beef, or vegetable broth
3 Tablespoons of soy sauce (consider low sodium sauce)
1/2 head (I used 1/4) napa cabbage or baby bok choi
Linguini, fettuccine, rice noodles, udon, soba, or other flat noodles, approximately 8 ounces
2 Tablespoons of toasted or flavored sesame oil
3/4 pound (I used less) beef rib eye, or other thinly sliced beef
3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Of course, you are free to substitute, or even omit ingredients.
I actually prefer to use a bit less soy sauce, and use a flavored hot sesame oil.

Step 3: A Bit of Prep...

Once slicing, dicing, measuring and other preparation is complete, the soup will fall together quickly. If you are having guests over for dinner, it will be to your advantage to get all of this out of the way ahead of time, which will allow time for other things, like setting the table, dusting and such before company arrives.

Peel the ginger, and slice into thin rounds, approximately 2" of the ginger.

Rinse off and slice the bok choi or napa cabbage into small sections, keeping the leaves and stems separate, as you will add them at different times.

Chop 1/4 cup of cilantro leaves.

Measure out all the little amounts of oils (*), brown sugar, soy sauce, and chili paste.

Slice beef (or any meat, if used, other than shrimp) into thin slices.

(*) Recipe calls for 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil - 1 will be added to the soup, 1 to the cooked noodles

If using frozen shrimp, keep frozen or refrigerated until just a few minutes before adding to the soup. You can also rinse the shrimp under running water to speed up the thawing process.

Step 4: A Bit of Sautee...

In a large sauce pot, over medium-high heat, pour 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
Add sliced ginger and saute for one minute.
Add the mushrooms and saute until soft, approximately two to three minutes.
Add 2 tablespoons of chili paste and stir well.
Continue stirring while adding 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.

Your kitchen is now likely filled with wonderful aromas swirling around.
Breathe them in, and enjoy.

Step 5: The Broth and the Body...

To the sauteed and now sizzling brown sugar mixture, slowly add one cup of water.
Stir in 4 cups of broth, add 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce, depending on your preference for the sodium content.
Add the bok choi or napa cabbage stem pieces (not the leaves, remember, we divided them)
Stir well, and bring to a boil.

Step 6: Simmer for 25 Minutes...

While the soup is simmering, this will give you an opportunity to clean up the kitchen, fold laundry,
pay bills, or even surf Instructables for additional recipes.

Here are a few of my favorites, by other Instructable members:

Chinese Chili Tofu by Tarun Upadhyaya

Black Pepper-Garlic Chicken by bajablue

Step 7: Bring Water to Boil, Add Pasta...

While the soup is simmering for the next 20-25 minutes, bring a pot of water to boil.
Water will reach boiling temperature faster if you place a lid on the pot, even if you watch it. ;-)

Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, remove the pot from heat, and rinse in cool water to stop the cooking process. Thoroughly drain, then toss with one tablespoon of sesame oil.

Kitchen tip - Al Dente is used to describe pasta that is cooked 'firm to the bite' or 'to the tooth'. Not soggy pasta.

Step 8: Add Meat and Seafood (if Using) to the Soup...

After the soup has simmered at reduced heat, add the shrimp and beef.

You could also use additional mushrooms of a different type, or even tofu.

Step 9: Add Remaining Ingredients, and Stir...

Once the soup returns to boiling, add the napa cabbage leaves, remaining
tablespoon of sesame oil, and cilantro. Get ready to serve!

Tip: Adding the leaves too soon will result in wilted, bland-colored blobs of droopy greenery, so add it as close to serving time as possible in order to present a lovely dish to your guests.

Step 10: Build a Bed of Pasta, Scoop the Soup, and Serve!

In a shallow dish which allows the ingredients to bathe, and not drown in the broth,
add a bed of pasta or noodles that have been tossed in sesame oil.

Using a slotted spoon, place a helping of the mixture on top of the noodles, then follow up with a scoop of broth. Garnish, if desired, with a small sprinkle of sliced green onions, or a fresh grind of peppercorns.

Though the soup is good the next day, it is best served the same day, which makes this recipe just the right amount so as not to have a large amount of leftovers.If you do have remaining soup, I always prefer to store the broth separate from the rest of the ingredients. The next day, simply dish it out, add a bit of broth, and heat.

Now that you've mastered the art of Hot Pot...

If you decide to make this recipe, or any variation of it, I hope you will share your results with the Instructables community. Be sure to let us know what changes you made, or any recipe changes you adapted.

Bon appetit!

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    The versatility is really the best thing about soup. You can make it a million different ways just by changing up the ingredients and proportions.