A few posts ago, I told you about Chinese BBQ, the great, leisurely way to eat dinner on a warm summer night. Well, now that icy winds are blowing through the bare branches, we've switched our allegiance to indoor venues and a warm, cozy, bubbling pot of spicy broth.
We've shared a large copper pot shaped very similar to the Korean sinseollo pot my folks brought back from their time as missionaries in Korea. And we've sat at a big round banquet table where everyone had their own little pot. The meat (both mutton and beef) is sliced very thin and cooks quickly. We also had shrimp, tofu, mushrooms and other vegetables. That's warm pumpkin juice in the pitcher and the empty pitcher had plum juice. The little boxes in the foreground are tissue papers, which are provided in many restaurants in lieu of napkins.
You can finish off the meal with some noodles cooked in the same broth in which you've been simmering your meat and vegetables. Below is a picture of fresh noodles on a rack, ready to go into the broth. This, by the way, is a Chinese thing, or at least in these parts. We've very seldom had rice served with the meal. Instead, your host orders an extravagant amount of food. There are so many different dishes that you get full just by sampling a few pieces of each dish. Then, when the dinner is winding down, the host asks you, "would you like rice or dumplings?" and despite your protestations they order a plate or two of dumplings. The gracious Chinese host must be certain that food is provided in over-abundance.
I thought this simmering meal would require more effort on our part -- what's the point of going out for dinner if you cook the meal yourself -- but all the work and pot-watching was done by our waiter, who pretty much stood by our table the whole time.