Happy Chinese New Year!
Festivities usually include a very large feast of multi-courses either at a restaurant, at home or both with family, extended family, and those cousins you didn’t know existed.
Since most of my relatives lived far away from us, my family had a more low key celebration. My mother would plan the dinner and gather ingredients the day before. We’d all pitch in to fold dumplings as she worked on the side dishes, which was usually a soup and vegetable dish. There were four of us and that was plenty of food.
Now I’m married and the number has dropped to two. There was no reason to bust my back for a feast for two, but I still wanted to try making something new and somewhat traditional. So I decided to make “hot pot” with the emphasis on the soup and EASY PREP.
My husband and I have different tolerance levels for spiciness. He prefers mild while I, on the other hand, don’t mind shedding a tear or two. So I made the soup mild, but with a slight kick from the peppercorns and Thai chili. He loved it!
Seafood Hot Pot (Soup)
1 Tb ginger paste
1 tsp of dry szechuan peppercorns
1 star of anise
6 cups water
1 packet Lee Kum Kee Soup Base for Seafood
1 bay leaf
1 packet of kombu dashi
1/4 cup bonita flakes
1-2 Tb soy sauce
1 thai chili, sliced thinly
1 package of assorted fried fishballs.
1. In a large pot, add the ginger paste, peppercorns, and anise. Stir gently until fragrant.
2. Pour in 6 cups of water and the seafood soup base. Bring to a boil.
3. Add the bay leaf. Mix in the kombu dashi, as much Thai chili as you want, and 1 Tb of soy sauce. Do a taste test; the broth should lean on the saltier side. Add more soy sauce if needed.
4. Add your choice of hot pot ingredients*. I went simple with assorted fishcakes, enoki mushrooms, and noodles. Let the pot simmer until all ingredients are cooked.
*There are unlimited options for hotpot ingredients: Dumplings, raw shrimp, thinly sliced pork belly, daikon, potatoes, you name it!