I haven’t written too much about food in Taiwan, but today seemed like a good opportunity to write about hotpot. It is common to see hotpot restaurants around Taiwan, and it’s a traditional part of many family meals during the Chinese New Year.
Like many other places around the world, the winter in Taiwan was unusually cold and long this year. Without central heat in our apartment, we do everything we can to keep warm. One of the best discoveries this past winter was making soup a regular part of our diet, soup based on the Taiwanese hot pot.
I have eaten at several hot pot restaurants in Taiwan. When you arrive, you are shown to a table where there are cooking pots set right into the table top, one for each person. They are individually controlled. As you sit in front of your hot pot, you wait for you liquid to boil. Sometimes, you just start out with hot water. I’ve had a tomato based sauce one, and it’s not uncommon to start with a chicken stock. The wait staff brings each person a table laden with mushrooms, tofu, seafood, various greens, and ample cabbage. You will usually find an egg at your place as well. You then order a meet or seafood to go with your vegetables and other items. You also get a choice of a couple different types of noodles or a bowl of rice. Choices include such things as beef, pork, lamb, shrimp, and clams. Depending on where you go, you can encounter all kinds of interesting possibilities.
Sometimes, it can seem that we actually eat too much when we go to a hot pot, even if we could avoid the self-serve ice cream that’s available. So the idea of getting some of our favorite hotpot ingredients and making it at home was very appealing during the cold weather. David made big pots of soup with lots of cabbage (one of my personal favorites), and we can enjoy it for several days. It’s not quite as interactive or authentic as the real thing, but we enjoy it.
Here is a video about hotpot in case you want to see it in action.