Last week we had been to Chinese restaurant with some of our colleagues for a savoury Chinese Hot Pot Dinner. Well, truly speaking I have not tried of that sort before though I have heard quite often from my hubby that it is quite interesting. I was very excited thou a little sceptical about the taste.
We had been to SHOW (unusually a name of Chinese) Chinese Restaurant, in Düsseldorf Downtown Düsseldorf. Well, the very thought of dining in Downtown, Düsseldorf made me excited as I can never say no for it. We have been there many a times, still I always love to go there for a little crowded, but for variety and perfect dinner environment along the banks of River Rhine.
We were 10 colleagues in together, quite a big team from different nations having a savour for international and exotic cuisine. When we reached the restaurant we were bit surprised by the crowd and thankfully our evening leader (Abend Leiter), a Chinese colleague of ours has already reserved a big round table for us. We were given a sheet of paper listing the ingredients of Hotpot available and our leader was quite generous to select as he is the expert and we left everything to his whims and fancies thou he knows very well the sentiments (both religious and cultural) of everyone in the team.
Well once we finished with our Chinese, to be frank enough after a long wait our two pots arrived on our table which looked like the one in the picture below. A big aluminium pot was separated into two halves, one half was filled with hot chilli soup and the other more plain soup. Well, it is not quite usual that it is separated into two halves, yet it was on request for “HOT” and “NON-HOT” people, i mean to say, the red hot part for those who love to eat hot and spicy and the other half for those who cannot bear spice. Thou being an Indian and a little used to eating spicy food, I was even little sceptical if I can manage the Red-hot chillies. The pots were placed in stoves and slowly the soup (usually made of rice water) started simmering. There were already a small porcelain bowl along with a small porcelain plate were served to every guest and we were directed towards the Sauces table to prepare our own combinations of the sauce. Our Chinese colleague helped us understanding the different sauces and their level of hotness and we prepared our sauce (combination of different ones like chilli sauce, coriander, garlic, chilli oil, Soya sauce, Hoisin sauce, Peanut butter, sesame butter, Sa cha sauce). By the time we returned to our table, we found the Hotpot ingredients we ordered were placed on our table. Well, the usual ingredients shall include different kinds of sliced raw meat, prawns, Fish, Fish Balls, Prawn Balls, Mussels, Squid, Spinach, Bean sprouts, Tofu, Mushrooms, Rice Noodles, Noodles etc.
Well as you guess, we have to put these uncooked raw ingredients into the hot simmering soup in the pots and allow it to cook for approx 30-60 seconds and can eat it. Usually we don’t place all the ingredients together in the hot place, depending upon the individual tastes, we place the things we like to eat and cook it for a while and just mix with the sauce we prepared earlier and enjoy it. Thou, initially scared, I dared to try the hot soup and well it was bearable and amazingly tasted much better than the non-hot soup cooked stew.
I really enjoyed our self-cooking Chinese Hot Pot event as it was something very exotic and very tasty enough. It was refreshing to sit with bunch of colleagues, cooking slowly and enjoying the spicy food in a chilling evening of Winter. We spent almost three hours cooking and eating and truly speaking I never ate for such a long time in my life before. I am now looking forward for another Chinese Hot Pot evening.
Image Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_pot