One of our favorite meals is to have our own “Hot Pot” night. We’re fortunate to live in an area filled with lots of varying cultures who bring with them restaurants and new food experiences to share. One of our favorites (particularly because it can be made Paleo so easily AND is a lot of fun) is to do what’s called Hot Pot. But it can get costly when your littles ask for endless servings of shellfish, so we started doing it at home. It’s become tradition when our friends James & Brady visit, because they love hot pot as much as we do.
We wrote about how to do hot pot once already, but that post was from before this blog was even called Paleo Parents and those pictures don’t do the experience justice so James & Brady graciously agreed to let us take some pictures when they came over for a Hot Pot dinner with us this week. In case the concept seems complicated, I’ll break it down for you – but, I guarantee you this meal was the most easy and entertaining meal we’ve had all week – the kids were so occupied the adults actually got to have conversation.*
- 1 Quart Broth (we used homemade beef, but any good quality broth of your choosing is OK) + 2-4 Cups water to refill as broth concentrates and cooks down
Optional: Add flavorings to your broth – we like to add spring onions, thai curry paste and red pepper to ours but to each is own
- Uncooked meats of your choosing
Our favorites are thinly sliced beef, clams, mussels, and quail eggs
- Vegetables of your choosing, cut into pieces that will allow them to cook more quickly
Our favorites are spinach, carrots, cabbage, snow peas, sugar snap peas, and okra
- An electric skillet or other vessel to keep liquid at a high enough temperature to boil
- A handful of dropping and fetching devices (Chinese spider, silicon slotted spoons, tongs, whatever you have!)
Simply let the poaching liquid come to a boil and cook the food. Eat veggies when soft, eat shellfish about 1 minute after they open and eat the meat once it’s no longer red (pink or brown, whatever your preference). Let the pot empty between rounds (fish out all the pieces of meat or vegetables that sink to the bottom) and let liquid come back to a boil, then start all over again with the next combination of foods the kids want to try.
The boys all loved dinner, as usual. It was a loud meal filled with excitement, standing in our chairs and general glee. If only they could cook dinner for us every night! Word of warning though: I wouldn’t let your kids get too hungry before this dinner, because there is a bit of patience involved as you cook a few of each, wait for them to cook, let the water reboil and then start again. But, there’s nothing better than hearing a couple of 3 year-olds argue over who gets the next available clam.
While at the Asian food market to pick-up clams, James and Brady picked-up a fruit none of us had ever tried before: Jackfruit. It’s a treat for us to find new food! James and Brady’s mom came armed with tons of information about the jackfruit. When she started talking about having watched YouTube videos in order to figure out how to prepare it I started to get a little worried. But, the kids LOVED it’s tropical, super sweet flavor so I guess it was worth the 20 minutes of giggles Liz and I had in the kitchen trying to figure the darn thing out.
Fair warning, it takes effort to get the little yellow flavor nuggets out. There’s no way we would’ve ever had a bowl full if the kids had helped us – they would have eaten each piece as we fished it out! Also, the fruit pieces are housed in a STICKY non-edible pod with what appear to be fruit tentacles. I’m quite sure nature does not want you to find the edible flavor nuggets in the fruit, because of all the effort it took – but, Liz tackled it like a champ.
She sliced the fruit into sections that allowed for two rows of the pods; we dug in with our fingers and a spoon to extract them on each side of the slice, popped out the seeds (we’re saving them for roasting, supposedly they’re high in protein and yummy), then took the sticky, slimy outer skin off and – voila, jackfruit nuggets (which themselves are not sticky). I think the best description of the flavor, that I could think of, would be Juicy-Fruit gum. Depending on our creativity we may invest in our own jackfruit and see what recipes form… in the meantime, I’m still trying to get nature’s goo off my hands.
*Please keep an eye on your kids and make sure to thoroughly explain that the pan and boiling water is hot. Our kids are great about “slowly, careful, gentle” put food into pot – but it’ll take some practice with adult supervision to get them in the rhythm at first.