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Blanch the bones: Add all the bones into a big pot with some water. Bring it to a boil. Use a strainer to fish the impurity out. Once that’s clean, take out all the bones and discard the water. Don’t worry, we are not wasting anything because It helps to remove the funky smell. And make sure your broth comes out clean.
Put the pot back on the stove with clean water, add all the bones in. The bone to water ratio is about 1 to 4 in volume. Cover it and bring it to a boil again. This time, there will be no more nasty bits but there will be some grease floating on the top of the water. Use an oil strainer to skim off the oil. Turn the heat to low. Cover the pot and keep it at a slight simmer for at least 3 hours.
3 hours later, you can use the stock to make the tomato flavor base. Diced 5 medium-size tomatoes. You can also use canned diced or tomato puree.
For the aromatics and spices, prepared some garlic, ginger slices, 2 shallots, 1 piece of cinnamon stick, 1 piece of bay leaf, 1 piece of star anise, and 4 pieces of the white part of spring onion.
Add a generous amount of cooking oil to the wok. Warm it up and throw in all the spices and aromatics. Stir them until fragrant. Then add in a couple of tbsp of tomato paste. Keep stirring and mixing until the oil becomes a rad orange color. That is going to make your hot pot look like a restaurant level.
Introduce the diced tomato in. Keep cooking it until the tomato juice starts appearing. Add 2 tbsp of sugar and 2 tsp of salt. The seasonings will help to bring more flavor out of the tomato. Turn the heat to low. Keep stirring and pressing the tomatoes until it gets to a puree texture. It will take about 5 minutes.
You can pour in the stock that we made before or use store-bought stock to make this recipe much more faster and easier. Cover it and bring it to a boil. You can directly use this tomato soup for hot pot but I prefer the broth to be cleaner so I sieve out all those solid ingredients. Because they are quite annoying to eat.
Pour this whole pot of tomato soup into the container that you chose for the hot pot. If you see the liquid level is low, you can add more stock. Now you have your hotpot soup made.
Different kinds of meatballs are our favorite. You can find these in the frozen section in your local oriental markets. If you don’t have access to it, I do have recipes for beef and shrimp balls. The reason that I use store-bought ones is that sometimes I just want to make things easier and faster. Also, meatballs are freezer friendly. They taste just as good as they were fresh.
The green leafy vegetable is my must-have because I need that to balance the meal after I eat lots of meat. Cut the shitake mushroom with a pattern so it looks nicer. Discard the messy end of the needle mushroom.
Pork loin is the most tender part of the pork. if you cook it right, it will melt in your mouth. So good. Just one suggestion - slice the meat diagonally. If you slice it against the muscle grains, the meat will break apart easily when you cook it in the hot pot. Also, I put the meat into the freezer for 1 hour. So it is firm, like half-frozen. The knife can easily slice it. You don’t need any marinade for the meat. Just simply plate it.
You can also use other kinds of meat such as lamb, beef, chicken. You can ask your butcher to slice it thinly or buy the ones that are already cut. I got some pre-sliced beef brisket from the frozen section in a Chinese grocery although I prefer fresh meat.
I also prepared some beef tripe. This is one of my favorite animal organs. It got a great crunchy texture and cook fast. Perfect for hotpot. You just get a scissor and cut it along the layers. If you don’t like it, I understand. You can just skip it.
I love these extra sweet golden corn. Believe it or not, I even eat them when they are raw. They taste sweet like a fruit. Cut them in half and you can just throw them in the hotpot soup. I am going to add a couple more things - The shitake mushroom, as you are cooking it, it will continue releasing the umami flavor to the soup; A few pieces of scallion. That’s it. Looks beautiful.
You can put out the ingredients and present them. Bring the hot pot to a boil. Add some salt to adjust the taste and you can start enjoying.