February 29, 2012 A Leap Year Post

Happy Leap Day! In a bit of a leap year stretch I am going back again to Chinese new year for this post. One of the courses we include each year is Mongolian Hot Pot. Hot pot is a method of cooking thinly sliced meats, seafood and vegetables in a simmering broth.The Chinese have been using this cooking method since the Tang dynasty over a  thousand years ago. The ingredient possibilities are endless, but since this is one of many courses we have narrowed the choices down for our party to thinly sliced chicken breast, various seafood; littleneck clams, cockles, shrimp, scallops, monkfish, mussels and produce such as snow peas, mushrooms and sprouts. The morning of the party we went to Hellers Seafood for our order. Today, Joe spotted something in the refrigerated case that we don’t see every week. Fresh Florida frogs legs, not something that would appeal to me, or to most people I thought, but Joe insisted we get some. At least he and Alfred would enjoy them. So the legs had their own special tray to pass between the three hot pots. Surprisingly quite a few people were adventuresome and tried the frogs legs. Tastes like chicken I have been told…

Basic Recipe for Hot Pot

Equipment needed

  • A portable burner
  • Butane fuel canister for the portable burner
  • Cooking pot for the simmering broth
  • Utensils- Chopsticks and tongs to put the uncooked food in the broth, Chinese wire strainers or slotted spoons for retrieving cooked food from the broth
  • Bowls, spoons and a discard plate for the shells

    A tray of ingredients ready for the hot pot.

For hot pot cooking

  • Homemade chicken broth or low sodium canned is okay
  • Thinly sliced chicken breast
  • Chunks of mild white fish, monk, halibut etc
  • Mussels
  • Clams
  • Shrimp-we use medium, shell-on
  • Scallops
  • Mushrooms-we have used enoki, shiitake, oyster
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Snow peas
  • Baby spinach leaves
  • Coriander leaves
  • A few hot peppers


  • Soy sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Chili garlic sauce
  • Sesame oil

This year Joe made his own unique accompaniments; coriander mustard sauce, spicy sesame sauce, spicy Szechuan peanut butter sauce and Szechuan pepper salt.  They are worthy of their own post.

Bring a large pot of chicken broth to a simmer. There should be enough stock to fill all of the pots for table side dining 2/3 of the way full and more for replenishing. The food to be cooked should be prepped and on a tray. Do this several hours in advance, cover food with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Four diners per pot seems to work best. Slower cooking items like the clams and mussels should go in first, the vegetables toward the end. Eat as you go. It’s a fun way for a group to cook together. Add some pre-soaked rice noodles to the broth at the end  to make a flavorful soup.

The texture of frogs legs is said to be like chicken wings.

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I love to cook, garden, entertain and celebrate holidays with family and friends in Bucks County Pa. I was an off-premise caterer for over 20 years with events ranging from ten to four hundred guests.