DIY Dinner
DIY Dinner
February 25, 2011 • Posted by Jennifer Perillo

Let’s face it, you can’t please everyone every night when it comes to dinner. On those nights when I want something with more grown-up flair, hot pots are the perfect answer. I should forewarn you this isn’t a classic Japanese-style hot pot—it’s more an Americanized spin on ramen, but it is filled with big, bold flavors that will leave you longing for seconds.

The kids keep it simple, with just noodles and carrots. My husband and I load ours up with the same, as well as shredded cabbage or kale, handfuls of fresh torn cilantro leaves and cubes of tofu or thinly sliced beef—don’t worry it cooks as soon as it makes contact with the boiling broth. I especially love making a quick seasoned avocado that softens into creamy pillows floating around the bowl. You can make a mock version too by tossing cut up chunks with lime juice, hot paprika and coriander. An extra squeeze of fresh lime to the pot pulls all the flavors together nicely.

For extra flair and fun, transfer the boiling broth to a fancy tea kettle to pour tableside. This is one time when cooking separate meals for everyone is a welcome change of pace.

Hot Pots
Serves as many as you like

This is a quick and easy weeknight meal, and relies on a richly flavored broth—this vegetable bouillon is our go-to recipe.

Good quality chicken or vegetable broth

Suggested “fillings:”

  • Very thinly sliced pieces of beef or chicken
  • Buckwheat, rice noodles or angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • Fresh lime wedges
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Cubed tofu
  • Baby spinach
  • Thinly shaved carrots
  • Thinly shredded green cabbage or kale
  • Siracha hot chili sauce

  1. Bring the broth to a rolling boil.
  2. Meanwhile, set table with deep soup bowls for each person. Place “filling” ingredients out in bowls or arrange on a platter.
  3. Once broth is ready, let everyone fill their bowls with desired “fillings”. Ladle broth into filled bowls and enjoy!
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