Sunday, January 22, 2017

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Asian Hot Pot...

The Rooster will crow its infamous crow to welcome 2017, a new lunar year celebrated across Asia January 28th. It was a privilege along with my mother to check out Korean Galleria Supermarket's York Mills location last Friday as they kicked off the year with a multiple "Asian fondue" demonstration. Sponsor products included condiments and sauces from Lee Kum Kee and seafood from Anchor's Bay. Host chef Sang Kim, award-winning author, chef and restaurateur (Toronto's Blowfish, Ki Modern Japanese, Ame Cuisine, KOKO! Share Bar and more) showcased how hot pot traditions are famously celebrated in China, Japan and South Korea in their distinctive styles and ingredients.  During new year, this do-it-yourself experience becomes a special gathering for family and guests at the table to cook their favourite foods in one or two large communal pot(s) of simmering broth. Across the countries, this meal ritual is meant to bring good luck, peace and happiness to the entire family. 

Well-organized and interactive, the event was a fun tasty experience with guests parting with a generous tote of Galleria and sponsor products to enjoy at home!

Chef Sang Kim

Media press and guests enjoy the experience first-hand.

The first demo introduced China's hot pot otherwise known as Mongolian fire pot. Two broth bases were featured in one pot separated by a divider. Yin- seafood, and yang- spicy Szechuan. The ingredients included sliced lamb, sliced beef rib eye, shrimp, fish ball, bean curd, tofu, napa cabbage, watercress, enoki, mushrooms and potato. The raw meat and vegetables cook quickly, thus a few minutes will do, and tasty morsels are fished out with basket ladles into individual bowls, to be dipped into your choice of sauce and eaten right away.

For the Chinese hot pot, dipping sauce is an important aspect since the food is rather bland by boiling. The customize-your-own combination can include soy sauce, sesame oil, chilli oil or sauce,  shrimp paste, sesame paste, preserved red bean curd, chopped green onions, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, sugar and wine. A fresh raw egg can also be cracked into the sauce concoction to bring down the heat of the ingredients (yang) before dipping and eating. Note the soup becomes rather rich and flavourful as you go from cooking all the delicious variety of foods in it, and more soup/water is added to replace the amount that has been boiled away or scooped up. At my home, we always finish our hot pot meal with flat rice noodles (ho fun) bathing in the tasty broth, and slurp our way to the end.

Lee Kum Kee's assortment of condiments and sauces perfect for dipping.

This dual soup pot allows for double the flavours and fun!

A rare photo of my mum and me.

Next was Japanese hot pot, also called sukiyaki (literally meaning "to grill on a flat spade"). A heavy-walled shallow skillet is most suitable for cooking sukiyaki. The base here is a sweet soy sauce (made with soy sauce, sake and sugar- a definitive characteristic of home-style Japanese cuisine) and only requires a shallow amount to simmer-cook the ingredients. Sliced beef is most popular, clam, scallop, napa cabbage, watercress, onion, enoki mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, tofu and yam noodles were also enjoyed. A distinct difference between Japanese hot pot to Chinese is that it does not require any dipping condiments. The broth imparts its light sweet and savoury flavours while enhancing the foods' tastes when cooking. Served over hot rice, the umami flavours are soaked up and each bite becomes more irresistible and full-filling.

Sukiyaki is traditionally done with beef but seafood is complementary and can be added too.

The last demo was the most noteable for me as I was least familiar with Korean hot pot. There are several varieties but the one chef Kim showed us was Korean Army Stew or Army Base Stew (Budae Jigae), and is apparently one of the most popular hot pot dishes in Korea. It uses a seasoned hot pepper paste and flakes to make the base for the broth. Some out-of-the-ordinary ingredients such as Spam, sausage, processed cheese, as well as tofu, king mushrooms, kimchi, rice cake, instant noodles and green onions make up this hearty and highly-addictive stew. Interesting facts I've learned-- soon after the Korean war (in the early 1950’s), food was extremely scarce so surplus processed foods from the US military bases were a great supplement for the Koreans, thus the creation of army stew-- a Korean-American fusion stew that incorporates processed foods such as Spam, sausages, canned baked beans and sliced cheese. An unusual combination at first, but no doubt was it savoury and delicious!

There's that slice of processed cheese.

A true meal-in-one-- taking hot pot or instant ramen to another level!

I love the addition of sliced Spam and frankfurters... It reminds me of good ol' fashion Hong Kong-style toppings in macaroni soup growing up in a Chinese household. I will definitely be bringing some of this nostalgia by making this for my family!

The spicy broth penetrated the ingredients and the melted cheese
gave the stew a slight creamy dimension. 

After such a delectable experience at Galleria with chef Sang Kim, I was more than inspired to do some hot potting with my extended family as a prelude celebration to the coming lunar year! Here is our version Chinese-style. For more details on how to entertain with your own Chinese hot pot, read my previous Post.

The dual soup pot will hold chicken broth in one side and vegetable broth in the other.

This second pot of broth contains herbal ingredients as a healthy soup option.

Cool vegetarian appetizers complimented the hot meal.

Hot pot is a healthy way to try new foods and tastes. It is as enjoyable to cook together as it is to eat.

A cold beer or glass of wine goes well to reduce the heat from the eats. Cheers!

To read on how to create your own DIY hot pot at home, check out my previous Chinese new year post on Chinese Hot Potting. Come back and join me this week for more celebration foods for the upcoming lunar new year of the rooster January 28th!


  1. Love it and your blog! Thanks Susan for the post. Wish I was at your dinner- looks fabulous!
    I will be doing a hot pot segment on CTV's The Social this Thursday 1pm to inaugurate the Year of the Rooster, so tune in if you are near a TV.

    1. Thank you Chef Kim! I will definitely try to tune in tmrw for the inauguration! Two inaugurations this January- ha! I love it! Cheers!