Weekend Cooking: How to hotpot

Hotpot has become a family favourite. We don’t really do hotpot that much in Singapore where it is far too hot for hotpot but the cool winters of California are great for it.

So it has become our own little tradition to do hotpot for Chinese New Year Eve (known as reunion dinner or tuanyuanfan 团圆饭) and we do hotpot on Thanksgiving too.

Hotpot is an easy meal for a crowd, provided you have enough utensils and hotpots!

And you preferably need to have access to an Asian supermarket. But if there’s none nearby, you can make do with some other ingredients.


We use a portable gas stove and this fun dual hotpot. Those ladles with little holes in them are great for picking out just your ingredients. And we set out regular soup ladles too. Extra long chopsticks are for cooking the meat with.

But here are my typical hotpot ingredients.


I make two broths in our dual hotpot. One is a vegetable stock made with carrots, celery and whatever else I might have like corn if it’s fresh. And the other is an instant one with dashi powder (or you could make a dashi stock with bonito flakes and konbu) and miso.


I usually buy Napa cabbage and chop that up. Bokchoy would be great too. A more traditional leafy vegetable is tongho but it’s slightly bitter. This year I also added baby spinach that I had in my fridge.

We love the little bunashimeiji (beech mushrooms). There’s also shiitake and king trumpet mushrooms, which are all found at my local Asian supermarket.


While I do most of the hotpot shopping at the Chinese or Vietnamese supermarkets, we prefer the meat from Japanese supermarket Mitsuwa. It’s a bit of a drive but it’s definitely so much more flavourful and tender. Asian supermarkets usually have thinly sliced meat (beef or pork) for hotpot. But you could always buy a nice piece of meat, freeze it for a bit to firm it up, then slice it really thin yourself.


Our favourites are fish tofu, fishballs and cuttlefish balls. They’re springy and fun to eat and cook really quickly. My husband and kids like imitation crabsticks which need just like 30 seconds to warm up in the broth.

Other ingredients may include dumplings, tofu puffs, vermicelli or udon, konyaku, quail eggs and more.

Don’t forget your dipping sauces like peanut sauce, chili sauce or sesame sauce. We also like the Taiwanese shacha sauce which is made from garlic, shallots, chilis, dried shrimp.

Get that gas stove going, the broth boiling, then pick your favourite foods and dunk them in! Happy hotpot-ing.



Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs


The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy

This book was just an absolute delight to read.

Can I leave it at that? And then, you know, you can go run out to your library or bookstore or open your Amazon app and just get this book already?

Not enough?? Really…

Ok then. It has cats.

A clan of cats living in a neighbourhood in Delhi. There is Miao, a wise Siamese; the warriors Katar and Hulo; Beraal the queen; the kitten Southpaw and many more. And their lives are interrupted by a young kitten with amazing powers, she who is able to send out her thoughts and feelings so powerfully that it disrupts and unsettles any animal who senses it.

And of course cats can link up with each other. Because of course cats can do that.

“Mews reached only so far; scents and whisker transmissions formed an invisible, strong web around their clan of colony and dargah cats. But linking allowed them only to listen to each other. A true sending, where the Sender’s fur seemed to brush by the listener, its words and scents touching the listener’s whiskers, was rare.”

I don’t have a cat. I have two kids and I figure that’s enough for me to handle. But I am more of a cat person than a dog person. I like dogs too (well most dogs at least) but there’s something about cats. I don’t think you need to be a cat lover to read this book but it certainly would appeal to cat lovers!

Also, good news, there is a sequel and it’s called The Hundred Names of Darkness. 

It’s Monday and it’s been ages since I’ve written a post!

With Chinese New Year approaching I’ve been busy cleaning the house! I feel like I’ve been very lackadaisical about the new year this time. Usually I’ll have baked cookies by now. And put up decorations. But nope nothing yet. But at least the spring cleaning is done – the new year lasts for 15 days and technically you’re not supposed to sweep and clean during the 15 days as you don’t want to sweep the luck away!

Celebrating the new year here is so different from in Singapore. A large part is because it’s not a public holiday but also there are no relatives for us to visit! But we will do what we can, starting with a reunion dinner hotpot on the eve, which is Thursday.





This is Us.

So I only started watching this a few weeks ago because for me at first it was all, ugh, Mandy Moore? But I was surprised by how good she was at this character. And man the number of tissues that this series requires…

I know that this series is about the Big Three and their parents, but I LOVE every single scene in which Beth stars (especially when she had that imaginary cigarette moment). Also, see The 15 Greatest Beth Pearson moments on Vulture


Hunger by Roxane Gay.






I am crap at meal planning. So here’s in reality what happens every week. We tend to either eat out or do takeout on weekends, because I really don’t relish cooking on Saturdays. Sometimes on Sundays I get this burst of energy from somewhere and decide to make tomato soup or pizza. Something that I really want to eat, and I know that I can make better than store-bought stuff.

Anyway, so on Mondays and Tuesdays we tend to dine on weekend leftovers, mostly because the kids have activities after school – swimming on Monday, tennis on Tuesday. And by the time we get home, shower, unpack the school bag, do some homework etc, it’s kinda late, so leftovers are our mainstay. But sometimes there just aren’t much leftovers, so that’s fine too, I can do a quick dumpling noodle soup (we always have frozen dumplings and dried noodles and vegetable stock – just toss in some spinach or bok choy and there’s dinner).

Wednesdays are minimum days at the elementary school so I cook something that’s more involved like pork chops, rice and vegetables. And on Thursdays I cook something that’s quick, like fried noodles or an easy pasta with chicken and spinach, or if I can manage it, I make a pasta in the morning and then bake it off after we come back from piano class. And Thursday’s leftovers work for Friday dinners. So that tends to be our week of dinners.

Last week:

I read:

Shattered Warrior – Sharon Shinn

Sweet Tooth book one – Jeff Lemire

The Wildings – Nilanjana Roy


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

It’s Monday and we had a lazy stay at home weekend

It was one of those weekends where nothing much happened and that was ok. My kids are both still recovering from a cough and staying at home and having a rest is just what they needed.

My favourite picture from last week is definitely this one. I was grabbing some books from the holds shelves and I turn around to find the 4yo making himself comfy (if that’s possible) on a step stool with a picture book about solar systems.




The Resident (❤️Matt Czuchry)

Listening:< strong>< strong>Eating:<<
me homemade baguette for breakfast

rkshire Gold with milk

concrete plans of yet but I was just watching ep 8 of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and she was eating mac and cheese and I really want to eat some now…

Last week:

I read:< strong>< strong>I posted:badgeIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A Flynn

“Queasy as I was from the bumping carriage, with the stink of horse and mildew in my nose, with the gibbet and the meat pie and the innkeeper’s rudeness still vivid, the Jane Austen Project no longer seemed amazing. What I’d wanted so badly stretched like a prison sentence: wretched hygiene, endless pretending, physical danger. What had I been thinking?”

I’m so thoroughly pleased with this book. I hadn’t really heard much about it but was attracted by the title when browsing the library’s ebook catalogue. It’s an intriguing storyline, going back in time to retrieve (i.e. steal) a manuscript from Austen herself. One that wasn’t published in her time. Rachel and Liam are well prepared and well researched. Rachel is a doctor and has worked in disaster areas and Third World countries. But nothing could really prepare her for this.

But eventually, with mishaps often skirted by their use of their back story – that of a brother and sister who grew up in Jamaica and who have only for the first time stepped into England – they get used to life in the 18th century. It’s especially hard for Rachel – she’s the doctor but has to let Liam play the doctor (of course women couldn’t be doctors at the time). The plan is to befriend Henry Austen, Jane’s brother, and somehow weasel their way to Jane.

The chief danger of time travel, aside from the obvious physical risks to travelers themselves, was of somehow changing the past so as to decisively alter the future you’d come from, setting in motion some version of the grandfather paradox.

Time travel is always such a fascinating idea. What do their actions change, for example, the simple hiring of their staff, or when Rachel saves a young climbing boy from a horrendous future by paying his employer and letting him live in her household?

I wasn’t that big a fan of Rachel at first. She seemed a bit tactless at times but she eventually grew on me. I like the way Flynn brought the Austen family to life, especially Jane, sharp and intelligent, an acute observer initially wary of Rachel.

I tend to stay away from any Jane Austen spinoffs (if that’s the right word) but I really enjoyed this one. I mean of course every time travel story leads to many many questions and possibilities but I feel like Flynn handled it all really well.

Last week’s #comics

Buffy Omnibus Vol 1 and Vol 2

I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to read the Buffy Omnibuses. I’ve read Season 8 (loved it) as well as the High School Years (not so much). It was so much fun being back amongst the Scooby gang and also Drusilla and Spike (I love how I can imagine Drusilla’s accent as I read her speech bubbles, which are very true to her character – poetic and also a bit insane).

Pop Vol 1 by Curt Pires

A fun enough but violent comic set in a world in which celebrities are grown and bred and one manages to escape. The storyline wasn’t the best but I really loved the pop art style of illustrations.

Ghost Vol 1 and 2 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Alex Ross, Phil Noto (Artist), Jenny Frison (Artist), Patrick Thorpe (Editor)

In this case, I’m not a fan of the illustrations. To be honest, I couldn’t really tell the male characters apart (and there are quite a lot of them). I do like Elisa, the mysterious Ghost, who has a strange power and an unknown past. The storyline gets a bit better in Volume 2 as we find out more about what’s happening in the city. Not exactly DeConnick’s best but it’s still interesting enough so far (especially since I am just now only finding out about Elisa’s past life) that I may continue. However, it looks like Vol 3 wasn’t by DeConnick so we’ll see how that goes!

It’s Monday and I seem to have forgotten that it’s Monday

It’s 720 am and the kids are still asleep! Or at least they’re still quiet and in bed. The 4yo has been having a bit of a runny nose and cough over the weekend so hopefully he can make it for swim class later.

We’ve had a fun weekend. On Saturday, went to Shoreline Park in Mountain View for some cycling, scootering, pedal-boating and picnicking with friends. We spent pretty much the whole day out in the park. It was just lovely!

It’s been a rather mild winter here in NorCal (well not like we have harsh winters). We had a few days before the winter break with some frost on the ground but nothing since. There’s signs of rain this week so hooray!



Two Serious Ladies – Jane Bowles



Season 2 of The Good Place. I adore this show! It’s got a fun cast (Ted Danson! Kristen Bell!) and such a great premise (the after life). We recently picked up a new TV and it came with a coupon for Sling TV and so I finally got to watch more episodes of this fantastic show – Netflix only has the first season.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with the kids. The Stephen Fry-narrated version of course!


I just had some chocolate cake and toast.


Yorkshire Gold


Last night we cooked up some butter-basted ribeye steak on the stove – so good!

Last week:

I read:


Buffy The Omnibus Vol 1 – Joss Whedon, Joe Bennett
Ghost Vol 1  – Kelly Sue DeConnick
Pop Vol 1 –  Curt Pires
Buffy Omnibus 2 – Joss Whedon (Series Creator), Dan Brereton (Script), Christopher Golden
Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes – Mary Talbot, Bryan Talbot

Jane Austen Project  –  Kathleen A Flynn

I posted:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date