Vicarious Experience: Hot Pot Dinner for Two in Shangai

I am very blessed to have an extremely diverse “village” of friends, co-workers, family, extended family and virtual acquaintances, and I love to enjoy their experiences vicariously.  That’s why I like social media – on the same day, I can enjoy a gorgeous photo of a heron on a Florida beach, an adorable baby’s first birthday party in Peru, and a brave but hungry (and very wet) baby squirrel begging for peanut handouts.  In addition to the wonderful pictures that take me places via my armchair, I learn stuff.  That’s what this post is about.

Hot Pot for Two

A former co-worker and friend recently traveled to Shanghai on business.  I caught this post on Facebook one evening and asked him about it.

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My friend’s FB post: “Dinner for 2. My last day of work at the Shanghai office. By this time, I just wanted something light and easy to eat. My coworker suggested a hot pot…So I was like, ok…great. This is gonna be easy. Then the waiter arrives…lawd have mercy.”

Isn’t that picture intriguing?  I had to know more.  Look at all that food, for just two people.  And the vibrant colors and mix of textures…yum!

Our Facebook Conversation

Me: “This is very cool! Can you describe it? I would love to put a picture of it on my blog.”

His reply:  “Ok, so…hot pot is a popular way of eating in many asian countries. It is communal and you do it with friends and family. basically, you have one simmering pot that is full of some sort of stock (chicken, pork, beef, vegetable…) and in my case, we were served with a variety of won tons, dumplings, 2 kinds of tofu, 3 kinds of noodles, vegetables (we had several kinds of leafy greens, and some such…look at that plate of variety of mushrooms!), seafood, and meats that you place in the pot and cook. Everything is sliced small so that it cooks in a minute. It’s a great way to share food.

Like I said, it’s for friends and family. …you wouldn’t do it with coworkers b/c you share a public pot. Noooooowww, in my case, we went to this restaurant, same concept, but with a twist…you actually get your own hot pot. My simmering stock is pork with onions, potatoes, leaks, tomatoes…this is soooo popular that we waited over 1.5 hours to get a table.

It is soooo fun to do…oh, most important…the total cost of this whole meal? Less than $35 US dollars.”

Wow!  I’ve had a bit of a hot pot experience at American restaurants, but this is far more complex and interesting.

I Need to Know More!

This all made made me:

  1. Want to go to Shanghai
  2. All kinds of curious
  3. Hungry

So I did some research on hot pots, and learned more about it.  Hot pots have been around a long, long time, and are also known as Chinese fondue or “fire pot”.  They may have originated in Mongolia and spread to other parts of Asia, and there are many, many different types of hot pots with a myriad of potential yummy ingredients.  Here’s a nice overview story about it from the NPR archives, which includes a couple of recipes.

I also found a whole blog devoted to the hot pot:  La Fondue Chinoise.  The blogger is obviously devoted to and expert in the art of the hot pot, and provides recipes, history, ingredient overviews, and videos.

I will definitely be trying out the hot pot thing and will let you know how it goes.  I am a huge fan of communal eating (see my Smorgasbord post and another about potlucks) and this looks like another great way to bond at the table.

Thank you, my friend, for the idea and for letting me share your wisdom and experience here.

2 thoughts on “Vicarious Experience: Hot Pot Dinner for Two in Shangai

  1. My husband has eaten this way in China (with colleagues, so not squeamish about sharing a pot) but I can’t – unless they did veggie versions for one! However, we have done it at home using our fondue set and enjoyed it. Not for a while though – I’m now inspired…..

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