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

noodles – My family always has fen si (cellophane/ green bean noodles; make sure you soak them in water to soften them first), but feel free to try any sort of thin noodle. Since the noodles will soak up a lot of broth as they cook, don’t put them into the hot pot until close to the end of the meal.
eggs – You can poach eggs in the broth by gently breaking an egg into a ladle that’s set in the simmering liquid. The result it delicious, and if you’ve slightly undercooked the center, all the better – the egg yolk that runs into your sauce will make your sauce taste even better. And speaking of sauce ...

saucy stuff |
Set out a choice of sauces and condiments and let each person mix up a personal dipping sauce in his/her own bowl. Soy sauce generally forms the basis of huo guo dipping sauces; good additions include black vinegar, sesame oil, chile oil, sacha sauce (a spicy paste, sometimes called Chinese barbecue sauce), sambal oelek (a hot chile paste), minced ginger, minced garlic, slivered scallions, and raw egg (traditional, though food safety experts would caution against it).

how much |
You’ll need about 8 cups of broth to serve 6 people. It’s hard to say exactly how much other stuff to offer – for six people, a good selection might be ½ chicken breast (thinly sliced), 6 scallops (each sliced longitudinally so that they’re not so thick), 12 shrimp, 1 bunch spinach, ¼ -½ head napa cabbage, 1 block tofu, 12 shiitake mushrooms (sliced in half), and 1 package enoki mushrooms.

how-to |
1. Prepare all the ingredients. Vegetables should be chopped up to a size that’s easy to pick up with chopsticks; meats should be sliced as thinly as possible; seafood should be cleaned thoroughly. Arrange everything on platters, which you’ll bring to the dinner table when you’re ready to eat. 
2. Just before mealtime, add the broth to the wok, which should be sitting in the center of the dinner table. Don’t fill it all the way up to the top – about 2/3 to ¾ of the way is enough. Add the thicker portions of napa cabbage (the leafy stuff you can leave raw for later), and any other vegetables that require long cooking times. You can also add any frozen meatballs or dumplings at this time – basically, anything that won’t get tough from lengthy cooking can be tossed in. Cover and bring the broth to a boil.
3. When the broth is boiling, remove the cover, and turn the heat down a bit, until you’ve got the liquid at a gentle simmer. You’ll want it to be sending up a few bubbles, but not boiling so vigorously that it’s threatening to spill over the edges. You’re now ready to start eating!

Note: If the broth stops bubbling at all during the meal, it’s time to turn up the heat again … you may have to adjust the heat many times throughout the course of the dinner to keep it at the appropriate simmer.

more hot pot tips this way... 

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