Looks like there are a few variations of this style of 'meal' in Asia and it seems to be gaining popularity in Melbourne. The hot pot restaurants I've seen sprouting up around the place are mostly serving the mouth numbing 'Sichuan' style soup bases, while others seem to be mostly Chinese herbal soup bases. Those that I knew growing up in Malaysia were usually plain stock or slightly spicy/sour soup bases.
Last night I got together with a friend for a hot pot night, combining the two styles of Malaysian steamboat and Burmese/UK hot pot (my friend being of Burmese heritage). And it was to introduce hot pot to our little Aussie family friends who have never had hot pot before :)
We had three soup bases - spicy/sour Tom Yum, a non spicy Chinese herbal stock, and a slightly spicy herbal Sichuan style one. While some ingredients were similar to what I'm used to - fishpaste balls, fish, some meat, tofu, leafy veges - there were other ingredients there that I've never seen used in Malaysian steamboat, like tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots, baby corn, lotus root, and thinly sliced Korean bbq style meats. So it was quite interesting to see the meeting of two cultures in a meal that typically share the same cooking style. For the record, Malaysian steamboat spread normally includes a few types of leafy vegetables, different types of sliced meat which are sometimes marinated (but usually not the paper thin ones that Korean bbqs use), fresh seafood, many types of fishpaste balls, noodles, eggs, etc. And our dipping sauces are also very different to the Chinese style ones. Malaysians love spicy chilli dipping sauces so we would probably have two or three different types of chilli sauces with our steamboat.
This is a 'cook at the table and eat immediately' kinda cuisine, you put various ingredients into the boiling stock, it takes a couple of minutes to cook, and you then remove them into your bowls, throw in more ingredients, and eat what you have in your bowls while waiting for the new ingredients to cook. A very 'communal' kind of meal. And the perfect meal to have during the colder months as everything is piping hot.
|This is my steamboat pot with its little teppanyaki plate. It has Tom Yum soup. The grey bowl contains marinated fish slices. Next to it is my homemade vinegar/garlic chilli sauce. And the little brown squares are stuffed tofu puffs.|