Simply Hot Pots, a cookbook review

Someone I know recently said to me, “Really, you need a recipe book for hot pot?? Lol just throw stuff in!”

Well, yes, I could do that.  At home hot pot (aka nabe)  with friends and family have always been chicken broth or dashi up until now.  But you know what? That gets a little boring sometimes. Just because it’s hot pot, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for creativity!

It is that creativity that caught my eye with Amy Kimoto-Kahn’s newest cookbook, Simple Hot Pots.  Maybe it’s because she’s a fourth-generation Japanese-American, but Kimoto-Kahn doesn’t box herself in with traditional recipes.  She doesn’t ignored them, but there’s a lovely collection of non-traditional recipes that I think deserve attention.

The book is divided into these sections:

  • Broth bases, sauce, and more
  • Pork hot pots
  • Chicken hot pots
  • Beef hot pots
  • Seafood hot pots
  • Spicy hot pots
  • Vegetable hot pots
  • Specialty hot pots
  • Side Dishes
  • Desserts

As I said above, there are traditional flavors in the book like basic dashi and basic shabu-shabu broth.  But I think the stars of the show are going to be the sesame miso broth, creamy corn broth (see more on this below), Japanese curry broth, tomato broth, Thai coconut curry broth, and Vietnamese broth.  Other honorable mentions that aren’t traditional in Japanese cookery but I have seen in hot pot places are the Mongolian broth, Korean Kimchi broth, and Macanese broth.

I also appreciate the flavor pairings that Kimoto-Kahn puts forward to go with the broths.  That tomato broth? Use it for the mussels with spicy tomato nabe recipe. Kimichi broth? Match that with Korean short ribs, because that’s a tried and true pairing.  At any rate, they both sound delicious.

I legitimately love everything I’m reading in this cookbook!

To “test drive” the book, I knew I wanted to try one of the unusual recipes.  I ultimately decided on the Green Vegetable Nabe, which uses the creamy corn broth, the sesame miso sauce, asparagus, kale, bok choy, and broccoli crowns.  

The corn broth contains onion, corn kernels, nutmeg, chicken stock, milk, cream, and miso.  The result? It reminds me of mac and cheese… but without the mac or the cheese. lol! My favorite mac and cheese recipe to make is a Martha Stewart one and it includes making a roux and flavoring it with nutmeg.  It’s the same building blocks of flavor. So this broth recipe gets us part way there but without all the heaviness of a real mac and cheese recipe. It’s sweet from the dairy and the corn, but not overly so.

And pairing it with a vegetable nabe?  It was really delicious. I didn’t want to stop eating the broccoli except that I had to or else I’d have no veggies in the fridge for the rest of the week.  A worry I had while making the nabe was that maybe the broth would scorch the bottom of the pot from the natural dairy sugars. As far as I can tell, that didn’t happen.  (Though to be fair, it might be because I was making hot pot for one.  I’m not sure how the broth would hold up after longer simmering times.)

The sesame miso sauce was good too but I have to admit that I messed it up.  (Which is kind of amazing because it’s a simple sauce.)  I was having a bad kitchen day where I was constantly dropping things and just generally being a klutz.  On top of that I was trying to rush (because I was getting hungry), one will do things like miss the instructions that said to blitz the sesame seeds into a powder or suddenly forget one was making a half batch of sauce!  Even with all my stupidity, I manage to make it work. (But I’m think I’m going to blend up the leftover sauce so that it can at least look more like it’s supposed to.)

I can’t recommend this cookbook enough even though I’ve only tested two recipes.  (Well, one recipe and one inspired recipe.) I’m trying to decide what other things I want to use the creamy corn broth with.  (Sweet potatoes, mushrooms, ham, chicken? Not necessarily altogether.) I think I might be making the tomato broth next while it’s still winter in these parts.  

Kimoto-Kahn has done a wonderful job of making hot pot more interesting, offering a variety of styles and flavors.  And, I am all the happier for it.

 

Reference Links:

http://www.easypeasyjapanesey.com/

Amy’s website – I also recommend this.  A few of the book recipes are cross-posted on her blog.

https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9781631065675/Simply-Hot-Pots.html

 

Disclaimer – I received this book from Race Point Publishing/Quarto for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.

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The Easy Asian Cookbook, a cookbook review

True story:  Despite my love for all kinds of Asian food, I rarely cook any at home.  Also a true story: I love using my slow cooker.

(No, I haven’t jumped on the Instant Pot train yet, and I’m not sure if I ever will.  In the meantime, I really want to experiment with an air fryer. I will take sponsors.  lol!)

But if I can cook Asian food in a slow cooker, will I make it more often?  

If I’m to go by the recipe offerings in The Easy Asian Cookbook for Slow Cookers by Nancy Cho, the answer might very well be a resounding yes.

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There are so many pros about this book in general.  The author hasn’t confined herself to just Japanese, Chinese, or Korean dishes.  Sri Lanka, India, and the Philippines are also represented. There’s per serving nutritional information listed.  It’s pretty basic information, but if you just want the calories, total fat, protein, carbs, fiber, sugar, and salt info (which is what most people want), it’s there!  There’s also general allergy information at the top of each page like nut-free and gluten-free.

The book is divided into these chapters:

  • Asian Slow Cooker 101
  • Rice and Noodles
  • Soups and Stews
  • Curries
  • Vegetables and Tofu
  • Chicken
  • Meat
  • Dessert
  • Side Dishes and Salads

 

The recipes I want to try most:

  • Mushroom jook (kudos to the author for using the word “jook” as it appeals to my Cantonese heritage)
  • Black bean sauce noodles
  • Pumpkin soup (has ginger, curry, and cream in it)
  • Lentil soup (Indian inspired)
  • Red lentil curry (Sri Lankan inspired)
  • Filipino chicken curry
  • Simmer pumpkin

 

The recipe I decided to start with was chicken lo mein because I was missing my mom’s version, and the book’s version sounded like it might be close.  It’s got chicken thighs, chicken stock, garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, white pepper, bok choy, shallots, red bell pepper, scallions, cornstarch, and store bought lo mein noodles.

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Mess in place

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I made the recipe as closely as possible.  Ultimately, I had to cut back on the shallots and scallions, and replace the bok choy with napa cabbage.  I also had to make the noodles separately the day after making the sauce and chicken, because of time (but also because someone… aka me… forgot to pick up noodles earlier that day).

Overall impressions, the sauce is really good.  It’s a bit salty on its own, but once mixed with the noodles, it’s perfect.  It does remind me of something my mother might make. The chicken was also really good.  I’ve made some Asian inspired sesame and garlic chicken in the slow cooker before that I wasn’t totally won over by.  This one? I’m happy to make it again in the future.

But!!! There’s a lot of sauce and noodles in this recipe!  I think I could scale down both and up the amount of veggies.  That’s just me nitpicking, and me trying to cut down on the amount of simple carbs I eat.  For other people, the sauce-chicken-veggie ratio might be perfect. I’m not that person though.  I ended up adding more veggies as I needed to when I ate a serving. And because it made a lot, it was a good meal prep option for dinner this past week.

I am definitely recommending this book if you want to make more Asian flavored dishes and/or want to experiment with your slow cooker.  I was more than satisfied with my first recipe attempt.

(Sorry I don’t have a flip through video of this cookbook – the copy I have is a .pdf file, not a hard copy.)

Disclaimer – I received this book from Rockridge Press for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.

Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes (a cookbook review)

I have mixed feelings about 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach.  At first I was super excited for this cookbook.  It was going to go on my Christmas List**, but instead I got the chance to review it through Blogging for Books.  In general, I’m a fan of Lucky Peach magazine but I’m not totally sure that this book adds enough value to my cooking style.

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The good? The recipes are varied.  Some are traditional, some more Asian American traditional.  And, some of the recipes have the wacky Lucky Peach/David Chang flair like Pesto Ramen or Spicy Mushroom Ragu.

On the to-do list:

Soy Sauce Kimchi
Dollar Dumplings
Com Tam Breakfast (pork sausage with rice and eggs)
Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake)
Scallion pancake
Pad See Ew (Thai noodle dish)
Spicy Mushroom Ragu
Jumuk Bap (rice balls with meat)
Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaves
Miso Claypot Chicken (no claypot)
Egg Custard Tarts

There are a few other recipes I want to try, but the ones listed above are the ones I actually see myself cooking sooner rather than later.

For this review, I picked something easy to try out.  In fact, I pretty much had all the ingredients.  I present:  The Odd Flavor Sauce.

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There’s actually nothing really “odd” about it.  The name hails from its inspiration, a recipe in Irene Kuo’s The Key to Chinese Cooking.  I chose to make it with almond butter and regular black peppercorns but I don’t think either of those ingredients vastly altered the recipe.

In short, it’s an all purpose Asian sauce.  It’s Chinese in influence, but that’s mostly because the ginger-scallion flavors are dominant.  I served it with plain broccoli, and a pork tenderloin that had been simply roasted with salt and pepper.  I wanted to know what the sauce tasted like without too much “outside influence.”

It’s good.  It’s solid.  It’s also nothing I would rave about.  It’s a simple enough recipe to have in my cooking repertoire but it’s nothing I would brag about.  I’ll have to try out a couple more recipes and see if that’s the case with the rest of the book.

The bad?  Honestly, my only negative comment on the book is that I can’t stand the kitschy photographs.  I get that it’s being all cute and 1970s revivalist.  For the most part, I can overlook it.  Ugh, but the picture for the Kimchi Pancake is an orange-tinged pancake against a bright orange background.  It hurts my eyes a bit.  I love kimchi pancakes but this particular image from the book does not whet my appetite.

Do I regret having this book on my shelf?  No.  But between this book and my other recent cookbook, Donburi, Donburi impresses me more.

Reference Links:

http://luckypeach.com/recipes/lucky-peach-odd-flavor-sauce/

http://luckypeach.com/recipes/mushroom-ragu/

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/250844/lucky-peach-presents-101-easy-asian-recipes-by-peter-meehan-and-the-editors-of-lucky-peach/

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/62092/peter-meehan/

 

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.

 

** = Instead, The Food Lab cookbook is on my Christmas List.  Whee!~