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Hot Pot Ambassador Dinner with Kian Lam Kho

hot pot spread

Big thanks to Kian for a beautiful meal, Jeff for organizing, and Talisa for this recap of the rooftop Hot Pot Ambassador Dinner.  Oh boy, I’m getting hungry again.
– Veronica

When Jeff’s email blast arrived in my inbox announcing the next Ambassador Dinner — an evening of traditional Asian hot pot dining with Kian Lam Kho — it took me about fifteen seconds to send in my RSVP.

I love hot pot. It’s something I grew up doing with my family at home (somewhat infrequently, but with zest — usually in conjunction with a slew of sweet and savory fondue nights, the better to make use of the cooking equipment needed for such endeavors).

The concept of Hot Pot is simple: a pot of hot broth sits in the center of the table on a burner which keeps the broth simmering. Everyone at the table partakes in adding a variety of uncooked items (like veggies, meat, seafood, dumplings, and noodles), and fishing them out as they’re ready to eat. Since most of the ingredients aren’t seasoned, additional flavor is added via the broth during cooking, as well as with dipping sauces after cooking. At the end, everyone slurps up the remaining broth, which has been infused with the flavors of everything that’s been cooked in it throughout the night.

For me, Hot Pot embodies some of my favorite aspects of food: it’s engaging, it’s interactive, it’s social, and it’s a group effort, where everyone gets to be part of the cooking process, play with their food, and eat for hours and hours. And, if the chef on duty happens to be Kian, a master of traditional Chinese Cooking, it’s really, exceptionally delicious.

Kian and his partner, Warren prepared a magical night for the 25 lucky RSVP’ers, on Veronica’s rooftop in Long Island City, Queens. All the ingredients were freshly prepared and thoughtfully presented on beautiful tableware.

kian
Kian


Menus! And delicious snacks of pickled vegetables, boiled peanuts, and ginko nuts. We were so spoiled.

Before the dinner, Kian prepped in the kitchen and held a cooking demonstration: making Southern-style egg dumplings. Kian had already prepared a batter of egg and cornstarch, which he then cooked and filled with a mixture of pork, scallions, and sesame oil, and sealed with finesse. According to Kian, the egg dumplings, which are often served in soup, are a common item at Taiwanese Chinese New Year Celebrations because of their golden color.

We onlookers also gave it a shot, with mixed results. Kian makes it look so easy! Apparently they are traditionally made in a shallow ladle over a flame — we definitely would have failed.

pre-dinner egg dumpling demo
Egg dumpling action

pre-dinner egg dumpling demo
Ta-da! No problem.

pre-dinner egg dumpling demo
Veronica’s Attempt

pre-dinner egg dumpling demo
Deborah

pre-dinner egg dumpling demo
Jeff, under Kian’s watchful eye.

Okay, okay. Enough with the teasers. Time for dinner!

Before digging in, we each made our own personal dipping sauce, a combination of wet ingredients: peanut sauce, sesame paste, sesame oil, chili oil, soy sauce, black vinegar, and chili paste, as well as additional goodies: toasted sesame seeds, fresh garlic, fried garlic, scallions, cilantro, pickled peppers, and fermented tofu.

dipping sauce table
Dipping Sauce Spread

hot pot dipping sauce
My first sauce attempt. Peanut-y, sesame-y, and spicy. YUM.

Then, we divided ourselves up into tables, each one with a pot divided in half to accomodate two broths: one Szechuan-infused, and one Chrysanthemum-infused. I know, I know. Aren’t you jealous already?

spicy szechuan soup stock
Prepping the spicy Szechuan soup stock

hot pot stocks
Hot Pot Stocks

Then it was time to get cooking!

veggies
Assorted Greens and Shrooms

vegetable and crab dumplings
Vegetable and Crab Dumplings

meats
Rib-eye, chicken, and lamb

fried tofu skin
Fried Tofu Skins


Veronica with more shrooms and tofus!

crabs and shrimp
Shrimp and Crab

whooa, a crab
Crab wonderment. Gary, Jeff, and Veronica


How can so many good things be in one pot?

fish paste noodles
Kian put fish paste into pastry bags. Pipe into simmering broth et voila! Fish Noodles! Here, Jim executes for the table.

fish paste noodles
Fish paste noodles! Airy and delicious.


Similar to the fish paste, we spooned shrimp paste into the broth and out came magical, squishy shrimp balls!


Hot pot means business.


Chowing Down.

oodles of noodles
NOODLES? There are noodles?! Two kinds?! This night keeps getting better.

fruit platter
And to finish… the best fruit platter you’ve ever had. Rambutan, starfruit, apple, longan, and dragonfruit.

Thank you to Jeff, for organizing, Veronica, for hosting, and especially Kian, for sharing such an amazing night with us and stuffing us with such delicious morsels. It truly was an experience. I can’t wait to go home for the holidays and have hot pot with my family.

See all the photos from the World to Table flickr set here.

About the Ambassador Program: The Ambassador Program has one expert of a cuisine lead a group of people for their dream meal in their favorite eating environment. The menu is entirely chosen by the ambassador. Guests pay for the ambassador’s portion and the results are written up somewhere on the internet. Everyone wins.

About Me: I like stories, science, and snacks. You can find me on the interwebs at Rocketships, Jellyfish.

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3 Responses to Hot Pot Ambassador Dinner with Kian Lam Kho

  1. Katie says:

    Oh how I miss hot pot restaurants in China. Thank you for posting about this as this sent me down memory lane of the summer I taught English in China for a summer. :)

  2. Betty Ann Q. says:

    Veronica, this is a great post! Just stumbled upon this now and it has made me very hungry. I love the Hot Pot concept! It is so delicious, yet a very healthy way of cooking.

  3. Betty Ann Q. says:

    Veronica, this is a great post! Just stumbled upon this now and it has made me very hungry. I love the Hot Pot concept! It is so delicious, yet a very healthy way of cooking.

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