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Grilled Shrimp with a Chile Dressing

Categories: Kidney Yang Vacuity, Stomach Cold

Grilled Shrimp with a Chile Dressing
Six Servings

-2 lbs large shrimp (16-20 per lb), shelled and deveined (or tempeh if vegetarian)
-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
-3 small, fresh red Thai chiles, ends trimmed, seeds removed, and cut into thin slices
-1/4 cup rice wine or sake
-1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
-6 skewers for grilling

Chile Dressing:
*3-4 small, fresh red Thai chiles or cherry peppers
*1/2 cup clear rice vinegar
*1/4 cup virgin olive oil
*1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
*1/2 tsp salt

1. Using a sharp knife, cut along the back of the shrimp to butterfly them. Place them in a bowl.

2. Add the garlic, chiles, rice wine or sake, and sesame oil to the shrimp. Toss lightly, cover with a plastic wrap and let the shrimp marinate for at least 3 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Before grilling, thread the shrimp loosely through the skewers so that they lie flat.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the Chile Dressing. Trim the ends and stems from the chiles, remove the seeds and coarsely chop by hand or in a food processor, pulsing the machine by turning it on and off. Place the chopped chiles in a clean jar and add the vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil and salt. Seal tightly and shake the dressing. Store at room temperature for several hours or overnight before using it.

4. Prepare a medium-hot fire for grilling and place the grill 3 inches above the coals. Arrange the shrimp on the grill and cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side or until cooked through, basting with the marinade.

5. Remove the cooked shrimp from the skewers, put them in a serving bowl and toss with the chile dressing or serve the dressing on the side for dipping.

TCM Theory:
Shrimp: warm, sweet, KD, LV
Garlic: warm (when cooked), acrid, sweet (when cooked), LU, ST, SP
Thai Chiles: hot, acrid, ST, SP, HT
Rice Wine: warm, acrid, sweet, bitter, HT, LV, LU, ST
Toasted Sesame Oil: cool, sweet, LI, LV, KD
Rice Vinegar: warm, sour, bitter, ST, LV
Salt: cold, salty, ST, KD, SI, LI

Overall Effect of Ingredients:
Warms the KD and the middle burner, tonifies KD yang

Shrimp and Veggie Fettucini

Categories: Kidney Qi Vacuity, Large Intestine Fluid Vacuity, Liver Qi Stagnation, Spleen Qi Vacuity


Dusten Nelson

Shrimp and Veggie Fettucini

Servings: 1 large or 2 small

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time:10 minutes



½ cup carrot: detoxifying and tonify qi

¾ cup zucchini: supports yin and fluids

¾ cup broccoli stalk (imperfections trimmed)

1 cup mushrooms: support free coursing of liver qi

4 oz of cooked and peeled shrimp: salty to soften hardness

Olive oil

Sauce: minimal amount, more for flavor but the sauce tends to be balanced with the warming and moving nature of the nutmeg, pepper and onion matched against the cool and moistening nature of the yogurt and coconut milk.

Olive oil cooking spray

¼ cup onion (finely diced)

¼ cup coconut milk

¼ cup yogurt

1 tablespoon miso paste

1 pinch of nutmeg

1 pinch of pepper

2 tbsp water or vegetable stock

Instructions: Peel the outside layer of the carrots and discard. Now use the peeler and peel the carrots, zucchini and broccoli into strips and then set aside. This is the “fettuccini.” With the zucchini peel down until you reach the seeded soft center and then either mash up and add to the sauce or discard. Next, sauté the sliced mushrooms in a pan with ½ tbsp of coconut oil, season with salt and pepper and let cook for 2-4 min. Drain liquid then mix mushrooms with the veggie fettuccini.


Preheat a small pot on medium heat and lightly coat with spray. Add the onion and sauté. Mix in coconut milk, yogurt, miso, nutmeg and pepper, bring to a simmer and stir until miso is completely dissolved.

Remove from heat.

Clean pan if necessary, pre-heat and re-spray. Add the carrot and broccoli “fettuccini” to the pan and sauté for 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of stock or water and then add the zucchini and sauté for 2 minutes more.

Add the sauce and toss until warm.

Transfer the fettuccini to the center of a plate, top with the shrimp.

Jumbo Shrimp with Chive Butter

Categories: Kidney Yang Vacuity

Kidney Yang Xu

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
36 uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, butterflied
Whole chives

Preheat broiler. Place mustard in bowl; whisk in lemon juice, then melted butter. Add chopped chives. Season with pepper.
Arrange shrimp, cut side up, on broiler pan. Brush with some of butter mixture. Broil until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Arrange on plates and garnish with whole chives. Serve, passing remaining butter separately.

Ingredients analysis
Dijon mustard — Acrid, warm; Lung; Warms the Lungs, regulates qi, and expels phlegm; Promotes movement of the qi, disperses clumps, unblocks the collaterals and stops pain.
Lemon juice – cool, sour; Lv; Generates fluids, harmonizes St, regulates qi, quenches thirst, benefits Lv.
Butter – Sweet, neutral; Sp, St, Lu; Supplements qi, nourishes blood, moistens dryness.
Chives — Sweet, acrid, warm; St, Lv, Kd; Warms the middle jiao, warms the Kd yang, invigorates blood
Shrimp — Sweet, warm; Lv, Kd, Sp; Boosts Kd yang, promotes lactation, discharges pus and mucus

TCM analysis: Overall this recipe is warm and sweet. The main ingredients in the recipe tonify Kd yang while the other ingredients regulate, tonify qi, and harmonize and warm the middle jiao.

Simple Winter Melon Soup

Categories: Damp Heat in the Lower Jiao, Diabetes, Spleen Damp Heat, Urinary Bladder Damp Heat

Simple Winter Melon Soup 2 to 3 servings

6 (5 ounces fresh, 1 ounce dried) fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms
1 (1-pound) wedge winter melon
3 cups chicken, bone, or vegetable stock
1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, slivered into 1/16-inch slices
1/4 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
Salt, soy sauce, or sodium-reduced soy sauce (optional)
1-2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 medium-sized green onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces, roots and tough end discarded

If you are using dried mushrooms, soak them in 1/2 cup of warm water for 20 minutes or until soft. If you are using fresh mushrooms, simply rinse. Cut off and discard the stem if desired, then slice the mushrooms into 1/4-inch pieces.

Peel the melon wedge (this will be easier if you peel the skin thickly, as the melon closer to skin is tougher). Scrape off and discard the stringy inner fibers and seeds. Cut the melon into 1/2-inch slices, then cut the slices widthwise into 1-inch pieces.

Place the stock, melon, ginger and mushrooms into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered with lid slightly ajar for about 15 minutes or until the melon becomes slightly transparent and soft.

Add the shrimp and cook for about 5 more minutes.

Add salt or soy sauce to the soup to taste, if desired (if you have edema or high blood pressure, you’ll want to go easy on the salt or use a low-sodium variety soy sauce; also note the broth’s saltiness before salting as it can vary according the stock used).

Remove the ginger pieces, if desired (or just eat around them).

Sprinkle sesame oil and green onions on top and serve.

Vegetarians can omit the shrimp or substitute sliced tofu. For those who prefer the more traditional ham instead of shrimp, use about 1 ounce, sliced and add it to the bowls just prior to serving.

Shiitake Mushrooms-sweet, neutral; SP/LU; supplement qi, boost wei qi, lower cholesterol, prevent cancer
Winter Melon-bland, slightly cold; LU/ST/UB; clear heat, drain damp, resolve phlegm
Chicken Stock-chicken is sweet, warm; SP/ST/KD; supplement qi, nourish blood, consolidate KD, boost wei qi
Ginger-pungent, warm; LU/SP/ST; disperse exterior cold, stop nausea and vomiting, detoxify other herbs, reduce inflammation
Shrimp-sweet, warm; LV/KD/SP; boost KD Yang, promote lactation, discharge pus and mucus
Salt-salty, cold; KD; clear heat, cool blood, ease bowel movements, nourish KD
Soy Sauce-salty, cold; SP/ST/KD; harmonizes MJ, clear heat, antidote to drug and food poisoning
Sesame Oil-cool, sweet; LI/LV/KD; down bearing, moisten intestines, laxative, detoxifies, raise unsaturated fatty acids, lecithin and vitamin E, treats dryness in intestines, constipation, digestive obstructions, blood and qi vacuity of LV and KD, weakness in muscles, skins and bones; CONTRAINDICATED in excess conditions, weakens SP pancreas network, can cause diarrhea
Green Onion-pungent, warm; LU/LI; release exterior wind cold, invigorate blood, drain damp

Clears heat, expels dampness and promotes urination.

Especially good for anyone who wants to reduce swelling and puffiness, for example, from PMS or menopause; who wants to lose weight; who is experiencing prostate problems; or who has high blood pressure. To enhance therapeutic effects of winter melon, leave the peel on and place the seeds in a bag made of cheesecloth or other porous material, simmer with the soup, and remove before serving.

Spring Roll Recipe with Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce

Categories: Liver Qi Stagnation

Jennifer Wade

Spring 2010

Eastern Nutrition

March 8, 2010

Spring Roll Recipe with Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce

10 Rice spring roll wrappers

2.5 cups Rice vermicelli


Bunch of Cilantro

Bunch of Basil

1 Cucumber

1 bunch green onion

20 Medium Shrimp or ½ pound of Tofu


2 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. water

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 tsp. brown sugar

½ cup peanuts

2 tsp. lime juice

1 tbsp. tapioca starch

1 tsp. xanthum gum

Pinch of stevia

Spring Roll Preparation:

Slice cucumber in a mandolin or manually to create thin strips.

Soak the rice vermicelli to soften

Boil the shrimp or defrost frozen shrimp or slice tofu in 1†x 4†inch slices.

Chop basil and cilantro.

Fill a large pan with water. Immerse the spring roll wrapper in water for a few seconds until fully moistened. Remove. Lay wrapper on a plate. Add a leaf of lettuce in the center. Top with ¼ cup rice vermicelli, small amount of chopped basil and cilantro. Slice of cucumber, and 2 shrimp or slice of tofu. Take the sides of the wrapper and fold them in towards each other. Starting from the back, roll up the rice paper over the ingredients until it is sealed.


In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve as a dipping sauce with the spring rolls. You may have to add additional water or tapioca starch to reach desired consistency.

Spring Roll:

Rice noodles, wrapper: Sweet, Neutral, SP, ST. Supplements spleen and stomach, generates and preserves body fluids.

Cilantro-slightly cool, acrid. Promotes sweat, strengthens digestion, and promotes qi flow.

Cucumber-cool, sweet and bland. Clears heat, quenches thirst, relieves irritability, promotes diuresis, counteracts toxins.

Lettuce-Neutral, bland. Lung, St, UB. Invigorates qi, removes stagnation, reduces swelling, softens hardness.

Basil: Warm, acrid. Induces sweating, harmonizes stomach, antidote for seafood poisoning.

Green onion: Pungent, warm. Lung, LI. Releases exterior wind cold, Invigorates blood, drains damp.

Shrimp: Sweet. Liver. Boosts Kd yang/qi


Tofu: Cool, LU, LI. Moistens dryness, relieves inflammation of the stomach, neutralizes toxins.


Garlic: Pungent, sweet, warm. Warms spleen/St. Improves digestion.

Ginger: Acrid, warm. Lung, SP, ST. Disperses exterior cold, stops nausea/vomit, detoxifies other herbs, reduced inflammation

Soy sauce: Salty and cold. SP, ST, KD. Harmonizes middle jiao, clears heat, antidote to food and drug poisoning.

Lime juice: Cooling, sour astringent, antiseptic. Purges the liver. Promotes weight loss, cleanses blood, treats high blood pressure.

Brown Sugar: Sweet, warm. Sp, St, Lv. Supplements middle jiao, expels cold, invigorates blood, moves liver qi.

Peanuts: Sweet, neutral. Sp, Lu, LI. Strengthens spleen, drains damp, nourishes blood, stops bleeding, promotes lactation.

Overall Properties and Comments:

This recipe will help move qi and would be ideal for a pattern of Liver qi stagnation. With marked spleen qi deficiency, it would be wise to remove the lettuce and cucumber as raw veggies can be harder to digest. Instead you can add steamed veggies such as carrot and zucchini to assist the spleen in digestion. The sauce, being warm, also helps to assist in digesting the cooler veggies. There is also some Lung nourishing aspect to this recipe depending on what veggies are served.

You tube video, how to wrap a spring roll:

Spring Seafood Stew

Categories: Liver Qi Stagnation, Lung Fluid Xu, Lung Yin Vacuity, Shen Calming

Spring Seafood Stew


2 TBL. Olive Oil
1 lb. Of assorted fish, shrimp, sea scallops, & fish cut in 1-2 in. cubes
1 in. pc. Fresh ginger, peeled & minced
3 med. Size green onions, chopped into ¼ in. pcs., grouped in green & white parts
½ lb. Asparagus, cut into 1 in. pcs.
1 cup of white wine
A pinch of sea salt
1 ½ TBL. Powdered kudzu (ge gen), arrowroot, cornstarch, or other thickener
3 TBL. Water
Lemon wedges or lemon juice, opitional

1. Heat oil in a pan, then sauté the seafood, ginger and the white part of the green onions for 3 min. or until the seafood is browned.
2. Add the asparagus, wine, and salt. Cover, bring back to a boil, then simmer over low heat for about 3 more min. until the asparagus & seafood are cooked through.
3. Mix the kudzu in a small bowl with a little cold water to avoid clumping, then add it to the pot & stir well & cook for another minute so the thickener sets.
4. Sprinkle the dish with the dish with the green portion of the green onion, add salt to taste, and then serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Olive oil: cooling, sweet, fatty & moistens.
Lemon: cool, sour, regenerates body fluids, regulates qi, harmonizes stomach, benefits liver qi stagnation.
Fish: warm & sweet, tonifies qi & removes damp.
Shrimp: warm & sweet, enrich blood & strengthen qi & kidney yang.
Sea scallops: cold & sweet, benefit the internal organs & nourish kidney yin.
Green onions: hot & pungent, expels pathogens.
Asparagus: cool sweet & bitter, clears heat, detoxifies & promote blood circulation.
White wine: warm, pungent & sweet, promotes circulation, temporarily stops pain.
Sea salt: cold, salty, slightly sweet, detoxifies, harmonizes & promotes digestion.

TCM: This dish strengthens the qi, regulates liver qi, moistens the lungs, clears heat, & calms the spirit.

Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli

Categories: Kidney Yang Vacuity, Liver Blood Vacuity, Shen Calming


8 1/4-inch medium shrimp
3 large garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons butter
1 bunch of broccoli, cut up
8 oz. whole wheat angel hair

Toss together: Shrimp, garlic, salt and pepper, 4 tablespoons olive oil. Marinate the shrimp for 3 hours in the refrigerator. After marinating, remove the garlic pieces. Add 3 tablespoons butter.

In a large saucepan, add broccoli and bring to a boil. Drain and return to saucepan; cover.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and butter. Add shrimp and saute, tossing often. Cook pasta. Drain and toss everything together. Serve.
Shrimp — sweet, goes to liver, boosts kidney yang.
Garlic- hot and pungent, anti-viral, anti-fungal, detoxifies meat and seafood, kills worms, removes stagnant blood and reduces abscesses.
Pepper- pungent, warm, warms the middle jiao, descends stomach qi, expels damp and cold
Salt- salty, cold, clears heat cools blood, eases bowel movements, nourishes kidney
Butter- sweet, neutral, supplements qi, nourishes blood, moistens dryness
Broccoli- sweet, slightly bitter, acrid, cool, nourishes liver blood, strengthens spleen, clears heat, promotes urination.
Whole Wheat- sweet, slightly cool, supplements qi, nourishes heart, calms shen, reduces thirst.

Shrimp with Goji Berries and Asparagus

Categories: Asian, Kidney Yin Vacuity, Liver Blood Vacuity, Liver Yin Vacuity, Seafood

Shrimp asparagus and bacon

Shrimp with Goji Berries and Asparagus
2 Tbsp goji berries
3 Tbsp rice wine
2 Tbsp sesame oil
½ piece ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 teaspoons thickener (cornstarch, kudzu, etc.)
1 ½ Tbsp water
1 Tbsp soy sauce

Combine goji berries with the rice wine and marinate for 30 minutes. In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil over medium-high heat then add ginger and garlic to wok and cook for a minute. Add shrimp to wok and stir fry for about 3 minutes or until cooked, when done set aside. In the empty wok add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and stir fry the asparagus for about 3 minutes or until cooked. Add in the cooked shrimp and the goji berries plus 2 tablespoons of the goji berry liquid. In a small bowl mix the thickener with a small amount of cold water then add to stir fry. Season with soy sauce and serve over brown rice.

Serves 4.

By Kylie Roach


Goji berry: Sweet, neutral. Nourishes LV and KD, moistens LU, nourishes xue.

Rice wine vinegar: warm, sour. Detoxifies, astringes, promotes movement of xue.

Sesame oil: slightly warm, sweet. Nourishes LV and KD, body tonic, blackens hair.

Ginger: pungent, warm. Disperses cold, warms interior and MJ.

Garlic: hot and pungent. Anti-viral/fungal, treat food and xue stagnation.

Shrimp: sweet. Goes to the LV, boosts KD yang.

Asparagus: sweet, slightly bitter, slightly warm. Nourishes yin, strengthens SP, tonifies Qi, resolves toxicity.

Soy sauce: cool, sweet, salty. Tonifies KD, cools, tonifies Qi.

The main focus of this dish is LV and KD yin and xue. The main components of shrimp, goji berries and asparagus nourish both yin and xue while supporting the LV and KD.
Adapted from Modern Wisdom, Ancient Kitchen.

How to enjoy Hot Pot!

Categories: Asian, Cold, Cooking tips, Food Culture, Meat, Soup

Kitchen Window
by Maureen Pao

Friends, Family and a Feast: A Hot Pot How-To

Maureen Pao, NPR

Beef, mushrooms, tofu, spinach, cabbage and shrimp simmer in this Chinese hot pot.

If you live in warmer climes, fear not. My hot pot-loving little sister, who lives with her family in Florida, simply cranks up the air-conditioning to enjoy huoguo year-round.

About the Author

Maureen Pao is an associate producer at, where she helps edit Kitchen Window. Listen her commentary on Chinese New Year and cooking for her parents.

After cleaning and cutting the meats and vegetables, the only thing left to do is concoct a dipping sauce. Some common ingredients are soy sauce (clockwise from top left); cilantro, chili peppers, shallots and garlic; sesame oil and Chinese barbecue sauce (see below).

Soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, sesame oil and Chinese barbecue sauce, also known as shacha (Bull Head brand is pictured here, front) are some of the ingredients you can use in your dipping sauce.

The Mysteries of ‘Bullhead’

In our family, three ingredients reign supreme for hot pot dipping sauce: soy sauce, sesame oil and Bull Head Barbecue Sauce. In Chinese, it’s called shacha, or “sandy tea,” sauce. (Sometimes it’s referred to as “satay,” but it really doesn’t resemble the Southeast Asian, peanut-based sauce we associate with satay.)

We always just called shacha “bullhead.” As a girl, I wondered, with a bit of discomfort, why it was called “bullhead.” It wasn’t until later that I realized it was the brand name, not a description of what was inside.

What’s inside? Not sand or tea, but, according to the label, soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chili, spice, brill fish, dry shrimp, salt. I thought about making it from scratch. My mother thought I was crazy, and in the end, as always, she was right.

When the weather is dreary and cold, there’s nothing better than cooking something that heats up the house and fills it with fragrant aromas unless it’s someone else doing the cooking.

That’s why the Chinese dish huoguo is perfect for winter entertaining. Even if you’re a neophyte Chinese cook, hot pot will be a cinch. One of its many beauties lies in its simplicity.

Also known as Chinese fondue or by its literal translation, fire pot, huoguo is a colorful array of meats, seafood, vegetables, bean curd and noodles that each diner chooses from and dips in a communal pot of simmering liquid. It’s a convivial activity, enjoyed by friends and families drawn together by a delicious, healthful meal in which the cooking is spread among many.

If you need an excuse to party, we’re in the middle of traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, which began Feb. 18 and run until March 4.

It’s thought that hot pot originated in Mongolia (it’s easy to imagine gathering around a coal fire in that cold and wind-swept region). In this version, mutton is the main meat. Between the 7th and 10th centuries, the technique spread to Tang Dynasty China.

Today, there are nearly as many types of hot pot as there are regional dialects in China. My friend John, a one-man hot pot encyclopedia, can easily rattle off eight different kinds, among them: mala huoguo, which features a numbingly spicy broth; suancai yu huogou, consisting of pickled greens with fish; an all wild mushroom hot pot, soft shell turtle hot pot, and even a yak version in far Western China.

This may sound exotic. But I ate hot pot growing up in the 1970s and ’80s in South Carolina, and if my mother and father could find enough ingredients there to prepare the gut-busting hot pot meals we had at our house, you can find them anywhere.

If you live in warmer climes, fear not. My hot pot-loving little sister, who lives with her family in Florida, simply cranks up the air-conditioning to enjoy huoguo year-round.

Instead of a butane burner or brazier filled with charcoal, you can use a more convenient (and much easier to find) electric frying pan or wok. Or just search online where a variety of Chinese hot pots are for sale.

The staples for a satisfying hot pot experience are available at most large grocery stores: beef sliced paper-thin (ask the butcher to do it; it’s difficult for mere mortals to do at home), shrimp, spinach, button mushrooms, Napa or other cabbage, and firm tofu.

There are some slightly more exotic items you can get at any Asian market and some upscale supermarkets: shiitake, enokitake (or enoki mushrooms) and other fungi; different kinds of specialty tofu (there’s a puffy kind called youdofu, or “oily tofu,” that I really like); various small, ready-made dumplings; frozen fish balls, mung bean sprouts, and cellophane or glass noodles.

Even if you stick to the basics, you won’t be disappointed.

The only thing that needs attention before the feasting begins is dipping sauce. There are plenty of different ingredients you can put in your bowl to personalize your creation: Soy sauce, sesame oil or paste, chili, garlic, coriander, vinegar and Chinese barbecue sauce (see inset, above) are some choices. When he was younger, my dad added an egg yolk to his mixture.

After you’ve concocted your dipping sauce, add a little of this and a little of that, the fun begins. We always use chopsticks, although a fork will work just fine. A ladle is useful for some of the more slippery items.

Eating is a free-for-all: Just pick what you like and dip it in the liquid (water at our house, although you can use broth); no need to wait until someone else is finished before you dive in.

In my family, there are different styles of eating hot pot.

My father is a dumper: He likes to throw a lot of different things into the pot, put the lid on and bring the water to a rolling boil. After a few minutes, he removes) usually with a goofy flourish) the pot’s cover, and we dive into the bounty of delectables.

My mother is more meticulous, a picker-and-chooser. She prefers to dip one or two slices of meat at once, swishing them back and forth until they’re done; she puts in a few chunks of tofu or a couple of shrimp, keeps track of them, then carefully plucks those, and only those, out.

We kids are a little of both. My detail-oriented side enjoys separating the thin pieces of meat and watching them gradually cook. I like my meat rarer than my parents, so the attention ensures it doesn’t overcook; the delicate slices of beef need just a few seconds in the piping hot liquid. But I love dumping in handfuls of leafy greens and an avalanche of tofu and going on a fishing expedition for them later.

My brother and sister are like traffic cops, making sure the bobbing bits don’t travel too far outside their designated zone. Battles erupt over rightful ownership of a certain flotilla of shrimp or beef.

After hours of eating, what was once ordinary water is infused with the richness of all that has gone into it and is transformed into something entirely new. In go the noodles, and after a few minutes, we are all quiet, save the slurping of noodles and a sublime soup. It’s my favorite part of a meal that holds many pleasures, so try to save room.

In the end, there is this: A family, sitting around a steaming pot of food, talking, joking, sweating, sniffling from the heat, not caring about the weather outside.

Read last week’s Kitchen Window: chocolate and champagne.

Get more recipe ideas from the Kitchen Window archive.
Pao Family Hot Pot

The first group of ingredients is a rundown of the basics of a Pao family hot pot meal (a * denotes items that you may only find at an Asian supermarket or specialty store). My parents don’t like lamb, so we never had it at home, but it is another traditional hot pot meat. Clams and other shellfish are also an option, although not with my parents. Chicken is used, but must be cooked thoroughly and care must be taken not to get raw chicken on eating utensils. It’s too much of a headache, so my folks don’t use it either.

Keep in mind, too, that if you leave some of the ingredients off, you may want to add more of the things you keep. These amounts should be used as guidelines; depending on how hearty your appetite, you may have leftovers.

Serves 4-6 healthy eaters

1 to 2 pounds beef eye round, sliced paper thin across the grain (brisket and flank steaks are other popular cuts; depending on how thin the meat is, you may want to stick it back in the freezer to make it easier to separate slices)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled, deveined and slit on one side

2 pounds spinach, washed and roughly chopped or ripped

1 medium to large Napa cabbage, washed and roughly chopped

2 boxes firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 pint carton of button mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half

2 to 3 ounces cellophane noodles (also known as glass noodles, bean thread noodles, mung bean noodles; buying them in small packages makes for easier separating), soaked in warm water and drained*

Water (cooking liquid)

For a More Elaborate Meal, Add Any of the Following Items:

Clams (cleaned)


Fish, shrimp or cuttlefish balls (defrosted, if frozen)*

Imitation crab sticks (defrosted, if frozen)

Lamb (also sliced paper thin, across the grain)

Chicken (cut into 1/2-inch or so slices)

Leafy greens (baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli or pea shoots, roughly chopped or ripped)*

Mung bean sprouts (rinsed)*

Shiitake, enokitake or other mushrooms (cleaned, large caps should be cut in half)*

Different varieties of tofu (two favorites are “oily tofu” and “tofu skin,” defrosted, if frozen, cut if needed into bite-size pieces)*

Different varieties of frozen small dumplings (partially defrosted)*

Chicken, beef, vegetable broth or specialty hot pot broths (available in packets)*

Suggested Ingredients for Dipping Sauce:

Soy sauce

Sesame oil

Sesame paste

White or rice vinegar

Shacha sauce (the Bull Head brand is widely considered the tastiest)*

Minced garlic, shallots or chili peppers

Chopped coriander

Setting the Table:

A round table works best. Place the hot pot in the center of the table; fill it with whatever cooking liquid you’re using (don’t forget there will be lots of food floating around, so don’t overfill).

Depending on how many people are eating, you may want to prepare multiple plates of each ingredient so it’s easier for people to reach. Those go on the table, too, family-style, as do all the various condiments for making a dipping sauce. You can plop the bottles down on the table, or present the liquids in cruets or bowls.

Each diner should have a bowl (for dipping sauce and food from the hot pot), a pair of chopsticks (or a fork) and a spoon. A communal ladle (or two) is nice to have around.

We don’t eat steamed rice with our hot pot meals, but you can certainly offer that, if you like.

Preparing Dipping Sauce:

Some good combinations for dipping sauces include soy sauce, sesame oil and shacha sauce; soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame paste and coriander; soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic and chilis. There is no right or wrong. One tip: Go easy on any one ingredient (especially the liquid ones — try starting out with just a couple of teaspoons) until you’ve had a chance to taste the mixture.


When you’re just about ready to sit down, turn on the hot pot and bring liquid to a boil; then lower heat and keep the liquid at a gentle simmer. You may need to adjust the temperature during your meal or replenish the cooking liquid.

It’s best to put any items that need longer cooking (semi-frozen dumplings, for example) in early to ensure thorough cooking. Also, it’s nice to put any bean-curd products in early, as they absorb a lot of flavor during the cooking process.

Use common sense while cooking; if your shrimp is still translucent, it’s not done. Generally, nothing (except the frozen dumplings) requires more than a few minutes of cooking. (The dumpling, which will float to the top when they’re done, take 5-10 minutes, depending on size).

In our family, the cellophane noodles go in last. The liquid (ordinary water in our family’s case) becomes a tasty, fragrant and very healthy soup. We also refill the pot one last time with liquid and dump in all the leftover food, for soup and noodles the next day.