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