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huo guo how-tos 
enjoying a chinese hot pot dinner | 1 2 3 4
continued from page 1

what you’ll need |
electric wok –Traditional hot-pots are heated with fire (the literal translation of huo guo is "fire pot"), but most Chinese families today use electric woks. Brand-new, they’re somewhat pricey – just under $100 or so – but they’re fairly easy to find at garage and estate sales, generally for under $10. If you can’t get your hands on an electric wok, get a little creative. Basically, you can use just about anything that lets you keep the broth simmering at the table – a deep-sided electric skillet, a heatproof casserole dish over a camping stove, even a fondue pot.
chopsticks – Even if it means you have to spear every morsel to actually get it to reach your mouth, use chopsticks. They’re fun and, hard though it may be for novices to believe, the best utensil to use for grabbing all those little bits of food.
slotted spoons, ladles – for scooping soup into your bowls, and for anyone who gets frustrated with trying to fish out their tofu with chopsticks.
soup spoons – The broth takes on an even better, richer flavor as more ingredients are cooked in it, so by all means ladle it into your bowl and drink up.
bowls – You'll need to provide each person with a bowl, in which they'll mix up their dipping sauce. Rice bowls are best, of course, as they fit comfortably in the palm of your hand, and allow you to hold the bowl close to your mouth as you dip your food in sauce.

what goes in
You can pretty much put anything you like in your hot pot, but the following are some common ingredients ...

broth – Homemade is best, of course. Use chicken, veggie, or whatever else you like.
meats – Thinly sliced cuts of chicken, beef, pork are all good choices.
seafood – Try shrimp, squid, scallops, and fish.
meat + seafood products – Shrimp balls, squid balls, pork balls … you’ll find an array of strange and wonderful little meatballs in the frozen foods section of any Asian market. Or try making homemade shrimp balls.
dumplings – These should be pre-cooked, so they don’t soak up all the liquid. Regular dumplings are very tasty, of course, but for something a little more unusual, try an egg dumpling.
veggies – Pretty much anything that won’t turn the broth funny colors is fair game: cabbage (I use napa cabbage), spinach, tofu, mushrooms (try shiitake and enoki), water chestnuts, lotus root (bland and starchy, in my personal opinion, but they look very pretty sliced up, and some people, like my mother, absolutely adore them), Chinese turnip (cook as you heat up broth – they take a while to get tender), bean sprouts.

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