Monday, April 20, 2009

Back of the House

The current selection in the Cook the Books Club is Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I have a first edition copy that I acquired second-hand several years ago and that was made more valuable (to me) by sporting an autograph from the chef, himself.

In June, 2006, several weeks before the infamous Lebanon trip, I managed to score a front row seat at a Santa Monica bookstore and listened to a wonderful presentation by Chef Bourdain. He is a most pleasant and gracious person.

In KC, his advice on becoming a chef is right on the mark. I would only add that it helps to be 20 when you start.

In honor of the chef, the book, and the event, I brought my Mongolian hot pot into daylight once again and polished it up. This has always been one of my favorite social meals, perfectly suited to conversation and entertaining. You can catch Tony's description of his meal towards the end of the Mission to Tokyo chapter.

I assembled a variety of meat and vegetables, homemade chicken broth, and udon noodles. Normally, I would prepare some charcoal briquettes for the fuel source, even though it is risky indoors. (It requires plenty of ventilation.) This time I chose Sterno, but I have to say that charcoal is the better fuel. Sterno will keep everything warm, but won't really get hot enough for actual cooking. I ended up cooking the main ingredients separately and put them back into the broth. Clearly, I need to purchase a barbecue and charcoal, then serve this meal again, properly.

Similar to fondue, the boiling broth goes into the main vessel, then each dinner puts in a selection of meat and veggies, letting them cook to desired doneness. Cooked items are scooped out with wire basket-spoon, the dipped into various condiments, such as Hoisin sauce, satay sauce, mustard sauce, teriyaki sauce. I use separate chopsticks to handle the raw meat so their is no cross contamination.

When the meat and veggies have been consumed, the noodles-of-choice are added to the broth. The meal finishes with a bowl of noodle soup, which wasn't photographed because we were so caught up in the social and eating part of the meal. The result is a leisurely meal where all participants enjoy cooking and conversing. I did invite my dear neighbor to join us, since she happened to be child-free and spouse-free that evening, a rare occasion indeed.

Thanks to Jo of Food Junkie not Junk Food for choosing one of my favorite books.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

We've had two glorious meals in restaurants with a Mongolian hot pot. I've never thought about having one. It does lend itself beautifully to good company and good eating.

Megan said...

Sounds like fun!

Your house must be THE place to go. I only wish I lived closer!

TeaLady said...

What a great party. I'm with Megan - Wish I was closer.

Love TB's books. This one and "The Nasty Bits" were both great reads.

Rachel said...

Great dish to make as inspired by the book. A tasty choice!

FoodJunkie said...

I ahve never heard of Mongolian hotpot, but it sure looks really yummy! Good luck.

Alicia Foodycat said...

I love Mongolian Hotpot/ Chinese Steamboat/ Shabu Shabu/ Fondue - anything that involves a communal pot and some dunking! And I am so jealous of your first edition copy... Wonderful Cook the Books post.

Suzie said...

What a great post. We love Chinese steamboat, which seems quite similar. In fact now that it is cold here, I must get a gang together for some steamboat. And lucky you meeting Bourdain in person - he seems incredibly charismatic.