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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Canadian Resolution, Raclette or Hot Pot!

Happy New Year!   Tonight, on New Year's Eve, Nasa Astronauts will be ringing in 2014 by sending greetings from space to the crowd gathered in New York's Times Square. What an exciting time to be there!

As we plan our New Years' Eve menu, I think about Canadian Food Experience Project and the theme for this blog, Canadian resolutions.

On our New Year's Eve menu will be pheasant, a gift from our neighbour who was successful on his hunting trip in October!

At the same time, we are planning our road trip to Northern Manitoba to celebrate Christmas on the Georgian calendar along with planning menus for our two week stay there.  Our Matterhorn Raclette will be packed so that we can entertain friends in the area.  A trip to Crossroads Market is in order to buy raclette cheese.




Raclette Jan, 2013 in Manitoba




When we return at the end of the month we will be celebrating Chinese New Years, the Year of the Horse on January 31st.  Our daughter danced with the Phoenix Chinese for eight years and loved the "funky" clothes that the dancers performed in.  The Chinese New Year's Eve Celebration was a perfect way to end the festive season.






As I look at the theme for this blog and the festivities that we still have planned in January, I reflect and realize that making resolutions on New Years' Eve was never part of growing up and really still is not!

However, revisiting the Canada Food Guide is always a good idea at any time. 

With my birthday in the middle of January, Hot Pot has become my traditional meal.


Jan 18, 2014 Hot Pot  

Growing up on a prairie farm, homemade chicken soup was a staple. Fresh farm chicken and home made noodles were the bases for this soup.  The broth that my Mom made for soups had to be perfectly clear and was strained through muslin when it was not!  I find that I turn my nose up on soups that are cloudy and not clear.  Her stocks were always made from scratch using raw meat.

With the changing diversity in Canada, many dishes have evolved with the global influence of other cultures and many recipes are listed as "infused" into a certain cuisines from other cultures.

Hot Pot is a wonderful way to share a delicious soup that everyone can enjoy as one can pick and choice their favourite vegetable or meat.  The two separate parts of my Hot Pot dish can also have two very separate broths or spices in them.



Hot pot is also a very easy entertaining company dish although it reguires a fair amount of chopping beforehand but once assembled lends itself to a leisurely meal and conducive to family conversation.








 Since Hot pot recipe is more a process than a recipe, here are the steps I go through in preparing Hot Pot.  

Over the years, I have used different pots to cook the Hot Pot at the table.  I have used an electric wok or a deep fryer. Now I have a tabletop burner that uses cans of butane fuel and a dish with a divided section so that you have have 2 very distinct broths or different seasoned broth.  However, I tend to keep the broth bland.  In setting the table, add chopsticks to the serving plates and add little dishes for the mixing of sauces and spices.


Prepare a broth in a large pot. 


I usually prepare the broth using uncooked chicken breast, onion, herbs and water.  Bring the water to boil with the chicken meat, then shut of the heat and place a lid on the pot.  The heat of the water will cook the breast meat.  



Slice a variety of meats and fish thinly to be cooked in the hot pot.


One is able to find sliced meat such as pork, chicken, lamb and beef at the Chinese markets. I prefer the sliced chicken and lamb for the Hot Pot.  Fish balls can also be found in the Chinese markets.  Raw Shrimp, scallops and other seafood are a wonderful addition. 


Select and prepare some vegetables


A variety of vegetables can be used for the Hot Pot.  I like to use Shanghai bok choyspinach and pea pods.  Mushrooms of all varieties are used in the  Hot Pot preparations.  I also add fresh herbs like cilantro and slices of lime or lemons to the platter of vegetables.

Prepare the noodles.
Any variety of Noodles can be used.   I do not add the noodles to the soup while the Hot Pot
is cooking as the starches from the noodles make the broth very murky!

An assortment of condiments is places on the table for creating one's own dipping sauce. 

Typical condiments to prepare a sauce include soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and sweet chili sauce.  Give each guest a separate small dish to mix their sauce.

Transfer your hot broth to the Hot Pot you are using and place it in the centre of the table.



Arranging the seating so that everyone is sitting in a circle so that everyone can reach the food easily on the table. 


I enjoy the communal experience of Hot Pot as after the initial preparation of the food and arrangement on platters, the Hot Pot is such a leisurely experience that is very conducive to conversation.  The Hot Pot meal lasts over an hour as you are cooking and eating as you go along, mixing and experiencing different sauces.  



Happy New Year to  you everyone participating in the Canadian Food Experience!
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