Recently, I attended a hot pot event at Galleria supermarket to celebrate the Lunar New Year (Happy Lunar New Year everyone). I’ve been to other Lunar New Year celebrations or events over the years but this one was unique in that the attendees got to watch as three different hot pots from different culinary traditions were prepared, follow the instructions of the host chef to make the hot pots, and of course, we all got to taste each hot pot.
In addition to the hot pot demonstration, host Chef Sang Kim – an award-winning author, chef, and restaurateur – took us all on a culinary story-telling journey. He spoke about the traditions, history, and rituals for each counties’ version of hot pot that were featured. As fun as it was to learn how to make each dish – and oddly, while I’ve eaten each with friends, I’ve never cooked any of them at home – it was the stories and mini-history lessons shared during the event that really elevated made it fun for me. Chef Sang Kim did a fabulous job of keeping everyone engaged while not only educating us, but also cooking and explaining to everyone how to cook the dishes. Talk about multi-tasking! Kudos to him.
It wasn’t the first food event I’ve been to that Chef Sang Kim, and I definitely recommend attending one if you have the chance, but I found the combination of cultures at Galleria’s Lunar New Year hot pot event fascinating.It was neat seeing three different, yet connected, cultures juxtaposed through their version of hot pot: Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
So what hot pots did we learn about/eat?
Chinese – Yin-Yang Hot Pot
This was the first of the hot pots that we had at the event and as suggested in the name, it had two different sides or broths. One of the soup bases was a seafood broth, while the other was a spicy Szechuan base – both in one pot divided in two by design. Various meat, seafood and veggies went into the broths including sliced lamb, sliced beef rib eye, shrimp, fish ball, bean curd, tofu, napa cabbage, watercress, enoki, mushrooms and potatoes. I wish I had have recorded the order Chef Sang Kim put them in but basically, you put them in according to how fast they cook but always thinking about if the ingredients would change the flavour of the hot pot if they were left in too long (if I remember correctly).
With this hot pot, we also had the chance to make our own dipping sauce from various ingredients as once the delicious stuff is cooked, it’s scooped out into dishes and then dipped into your individual sauce. It’s also common to add more broth to the pot as you’re cooking the stuff you put in.
Japanese – Sukiyaki
I’m more familiar with the Japanese hot pot shabu shabu so it was fun seeing how sukiyaki is made. This hot pot had a sweet soy base to which sliced beef, clam, scallop, napa cabbage, watercress, onion, enoki mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, tofu and yam noodles were added. No dipping sauce is used but the broth imparts a slightly sweet flavour to the ingredients added which is nice.
Korean – Army Stew (부대찌개, budaejjigae)
This is one hot pot I’ve eaten many times as it’s often a “throw whatever into the pot” kind of hot pot, or at least that’s how it was originally described to me. The name comes from the fact that many of the ingredients in it aren’t traditional and came to Korea with the American army after the Korean War. Ingredients like spam, hot dogs, and processed cheese (totally not traditional) are added along with tofu, king mushrooms, kimchi, rice cake, green onions, and of course, instant noodles. The soup base is a spicy gochujang (spicy red pepper paste) broth.
Regardless of the country of origin, all the hot pots were delicious and would be fun to share with friends and family, and perfect for winter. Plus it was fun making them ourselves at the event as it added an interactive element and encouraged participants to talk to each other.
Huge thanks to Galleria Supermarket for not only inviting me to fun (and tasty) event but also for the amazing tote filled with products from sponsors Lee Kum Kee and Anchor’s Bay. And thanks to Chef Sang Kim for being an amazingly entertaining and informative host. It was a well-organized event that not only featured delicious food and interesting storytelling, but also encouraged interaction among the attendees which is always fun. And it left me with a desire to make my own hot pot at home. Thanks to the wonderful tote I left the event with, I can (and will).
Have you ever had hot pot? Which is your favourite?