Happy Holidays! We're going a bit off topic, well mainly because I have no bentos to post for the moment. I figured at least I can do a Christmas post and let you see how our family does a holiday dinner. During the winter it's very traditional (at least from the part of China my father originated from) to have a hotpot dinner. It's a very communal event and unusual to most outsiders. Basically dinner consists of a lot of raw ingredients surrounding a large "hotpot" of broth. (as pictured above) The electric hotpot (a modern convenience) is favored above the traditional coal fired hotpot but works just as well. Once the pot gets boiling everyone has a personal strainer they put ingredients and then put the whole thing in the boiling broth to cook. Other items that can tolerate long periods in the broth are put in to help the flavor initial, this includes fried tofu, fish cakes, and various meatballs.
Part of the presentation for the dinner is arranging all the sliced meats, seafood and vegetables. As you can see here my father made a nice "meat flower" (ok it's better tasting than the label). Meats are sliced very very thin in order to shorten the amount of time necessary to cook in the hotpot.
Here you see a shrimp plate. When cooking, you try to put together items with similar cooking times, for instance with the shrimp you might cook the squid because both require very little time.
It's not an entirely carnivorous affair. Various plates bowls of spinach, chinese cabbage, and tofu are put into the mix. Once we're finished with dinner we have a wonderful soup broth that can be used later or for another meal to be slurped by itself, or as a base to a very flavorful soup.
I hope everyone had a happy holiday weekend. Have a Happy New year, may you be happy, health and prosperous in the New Year!