Shuan yang rou, or Mongolian hot pot as it is often known in the West, is a very popular Chinese dish, especially in Beijing, and is primarily eaten in winter, when cold winds blow down from Mongolia. It particularly popular for Chinese New Year.
Yang rou is Mandarin for lamb, the favored meat for this dish. Shuan can be roughly translated as "to swish."
6 to 8 servings
Meat or seafood (see notes) -- 2 pounds
Assorted vegetables (see notes) -- 1 pound
Cellophane noodles (optional) -- 1 (3-ounce) package
Assorted dipping sauces (see notes) -- 2 to 5
Stock or broth -- 6 cups
Scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces -- 2
Garlic, halved -- 1 clove
Lay the sliced meat or seafood neatly on a platter. Lay the prepared vegetables neatly on another platter. Place the cellophane noodles in a large bowl and pour hot water over them. Let the noodles soak for 30 minutes, drain and place in a serving bowl. Place each of your chosen dipping sauces in small bowls.
Add the stock or broth, scallions and garlic to a serving pot or traditional Chinese hot pot and bring to a simmer over low heat on a tabletop burner set in the middle of the table.
Arrange the platters with the meat, seafood and vegetables and the bowls with the noodles and dipping sauces on the table around the simmering broth. Each guest should have a bowl, a small plate, chopsticks and a spoon.
HOW TO DINE HOT-POT STYLE
First pick up some meat or seafood with the chopsticks and gently swish it around in the hot broth until cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Dip the meat or seafood in a dipping sauce of your choice and eat. Alternatively, place a little of various sauces of your choice in your bowl, mix them together to taste and dip the meat or seafood in the sauce.
After all diners have had some meat and seafood, and have flavored the broth with their swishing, add the noodles to the broth. Continue as before, this time dipping the vegetables in the broth and then into some dipping sauce.
The final step is to spoon some of the broth and noodles into your bowl and drink it as a soup.
HOT POT VARIATIONS
Meats and Seafood: Any one or a variety of the following can be used:
Lamb, beef or pork, very thinly sliced
Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Shucked oysters, mussels or clams
Tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
Partially freeze the meat to make it easier to slice it very thinly. If you would prefer a vegetarian hot pot, substitute tofu for the meat or seafood. Or if you are serving a large number of people, serve it in addition to the others.
Vegetables: There are several options. Use one, some or all of them:
Chinese cabbage, cut into squares
Shiitake mushrooms, sliced
Spinach, washed and drained
Dipping Sauces: Use at least 2 of the following:
Sometimes small individual strainers are used as well as chopsticks for dipping or to fish out morsels that fall into the pot.
Traditionally, diners start with meat first and then move on to the vegetables. As the dinner progresses, the ingredients add more and more flavor to the broth.
Instead of the noodles, the firepot can also be served with steamed buns or dumplings.