And no, this was not our Thanksgiving dinner. Can't do without turkey at Thanksgiving. My dad just called it our after Thanksgiving Vietnamese dinner. I call it social eating at its finest.
Ingredients for the soup:
3 quarts water
4 cans chicken broth, 14 oz. each
5 tomatoes, cut into large chunks
1 pineapple, cut into large chunks
1 lb button mushrooms, sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 3 inch portions
8 whole kaffir lime leaves
3 bags tamarind powder, 1.4 oz. each
juice from 1 fresh coconut, about 3 cups
6 oz. rock sugar
You'll also need fish sauce and chili peppers to flavor your bowl of food.
Also, you'll need some rice vermicelli (bun). Cook the bun by bringing a pot of water to a boil, adding in the bun and then boil for about 7-8 minutes. Test to see if it's done by test tasting it. Once you remove the bun from the pot, cool it with cold water to stop the cooking process.
To prepare the hot pot soup, first bring the water to a boil with the rock sugar.
Add in all the ingredients left except the kaffir lime leaves and the tamarind powder.
Bring the pot to a boil again then lower the heat and simmer about 15 minutes.
Add in the kaffir lime leaves and the tamarind powder and simmer another 5 minutes.
Ingredients for hot pot can vary, but here's what we usually use. We often also use crab still in its shell, cut into pieces, or clams in the shell.
Rau Muon (water spinach), cut into 6 inch pieces:
Artic Surf Clams, which we get frozen and already cooked in one pound boxes. These we dip in the hot pot for about 10 seconds and remove. Do not leave them in there too long or they will be very tough.
Shrimp, shelled and deveined:
A variety of meatballs which we purchased frozen and already cooked. These include the red imitation crab meat pictured below, and then from there clockwise are cooked fish balls, cooked shrimp balls, fried fish balls, and fried shrimp balls.
Fish slices. We use red snapper. These below are not yet sliced, but cut them into about 2 inch slices.
To eat, we get some of the rice vermicelli (bun) and place them in our bowls. When the hot pot is nice and boiling, we'd cook whichever of the ingredients we want in there, remove them, and then add them to our bowls. Then we ladle some of the hot pot soup into the bowl, add some fish sauce and chili, and eat. Don't forget good hygiene by using separate utensils for the raw food and keeping the raw food nice and cold. This is why my mom uses frozen foods, even the shrimp, mussels, and the fish.