Hong Kong Hot Pot
Okay travelers... Who is with me when I say there is nothing more gorgeously enriching than experiencing the beauty of ones authentic culture! Tourists can experience the beauty of another culture, but lets be honest, with travelling books and tour guides overpopulating our airports and bookstores, tourists are often given the sugar coated, over priced and at times inauthentic version of a culture. Now don't get me wrong... That's not to say that when traveling abroad we never experience true culture, I'm just saying, many tourists often miss it. Traveling and adventuring is exciting but it forces us to step out of our comfort zone. We must leave our preconceptions and cultural comparisons behind and come in with an open mind, a blank canvas ready to experience the beauty of culture. With traveling being such a popular "hobby" in the 21st century, the ability to be comfortable is readily achieved. We can travel and never eat or touch a traditional dish. We can travel on the safe side steering towards (being from Canada) westernized dishes and comfort food that make us feel at home... But if that's why you travel... Why bother? Now don't get me wrong, it can also be very difficult to experience one's authentic culture and traditions. Often times it requires knowing a local or just venturing out and trying something that we wouldn't normally try. That being said, when we come across the opportunity to experience this authenticity, we must embrace it with open arms and dive in head first. When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I was fortunate enough to have made some darling friends born and raised in Hong Kong. Not only have they taught me a saying or two (and no 2 is not an exaggeration... I know I should be embarrassed about the amount of Cantonese I know... but that's besides the point) but they have also been gracious enough to include me in numerous family gatherings and cultural celebrations where many of my absolute favorite memories have been made.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of joining them and their family for Hot Pot at their families home. Now given how mini apartments are in Hong Kong, well lets just say, it was a pleasure that they had room for one more chair. Since arriving in Hong Kong I had heard endless natter of Hot Pot, and had obviously been DYING to try it, so when this opportunity arrived, I was thrilled. Now there are many types of hot pot. Hot Pot varies depending on what region in China it is. The most popular Chinese hotpots are Sichuan hotpot, Beijing mutton hotpot and beef hotpot(which is particularly popular in Hong Kong).
Upon receiving this beloved invite, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. All I really knew was that there would be a boiling pot of broth used to cook some sort of... well.. I wasn't really sure what. So, you can imagine my foodie delight when I walked into the most gorgeous looking table filled with every possible delicacy one could put in a boiling pot. My jaw dropped and my stomach began to grumble. I was so ready to dive in head first!
Geoduck, Beef, Fish, Dumplings, Bean curd, Snail, Clams, Scallops, Tofu, Crab, Squid, Shrimp, Abalone, Mushrooms, Beef Balls and MUCH more.
Come on, how could you not be loosing your cool?
What's so beautiful about Hot Pot is the beauty of sitting around the table together laughing, talking and cooking. Not very often are you able to provide your guests with the the opportunity to sit around the cooking pot and eat as it comes. Its beautiful because the experience is not simply about eating - its about being together.
Fish Balls filled with Fish Roe, Snail and Squid
Okay so the company was wonderful and the experience was amazing.. But lets get to the food- Unbelievable. We started by receiving our own individual bowl, chopsticks and a draining spoon so that we could jump right into cooking whenever we felt ready to take on the task.We then proceeded to chose what flavors we desired to dunk our delightful creations in (this included choosing between hot chilies, cilantro, green onions, and a ginger sauce). We placed our desired sauces and seasonings into our own bowls and we were ready for take off. I dipped and dunked everything into this beautifully seasoned bowl. Needless to say, there was some serious slurping going on!
Crab Legs, Bok Choy and Fish
The Hot Pot
Lucky for me I had experts guiding my every move. As I easily got distracted I tended to forget what I had been cooking, but lucky for me, my friends had my back. They would tell me how long to cook each delicacy so that my mouth was as happy as my heart. As I sat and took in the experience of the bustling chopsticks flying in and out of the bubbling broth, it wasn't long before the meats came crashing into my bowl. I noshed and nibbled everything that hit my bowl. Each one better than the last with the hot pot continually gaining an even more gorgeous flavor from having cooked so many delectable delights within.
Hot Pot is traditionally eaten during the winter, but with Hong Kong's love of Hot Pot, its not hard to find year round! So, dieters, if you have yet to experience Hot Pot, I suggest you make some new friends, venture out and dive in head first to one of Hong Kong's many Hot Pot Restaurants!
SO on that note, you stay hungry,
And remember... Your diet starts tomorrow