In which a slow cooker does not successfully substitute for a fondue pot

Happy New Year everybody! Adam and I will be in Charleston, with his family for a late Christmas celebration, until the evening of January 6th. So, there will be some photo fillers instead of posts for our next two (on the 2nd and 7th). But in the meantime, my adventures with Mongolian Hot Pot.

I’ve mentioned before how Adam and my cooking styles compliment each other, in that he turns the leftover ingredients from my recipes into amazing things? Well, sometimes he has to step in and improvise like that in the middle of my recipes.

So, this little adventure came to us via the 75th anniversary edition of the Joy of Cooking – the Mongolian Hot Pot recipe. Just to be clear, I own neither a hot pot, nor a fondue pot, nor an electric skillet as recommended by the recipe. My thinking when marking this one out to copy was something along the lines of “Oh, Mongolian, I don’t have anything from that cuisine yet!” I would just like to note, that the Joy of Cooking, as venerable and useful and generally amazing as it is, is probably not the best place to dip a toe into a non-American cuisine’s waters. It’s too broad and basic skills level a cookbook to really be the best place to find exemplars of a cuisine.

But I copied it out anyway. Back on 10th August this year. Which is pretty good for me – it only sat in my blue binder for four months. Part of that is that this one is really a dinner party recipe, to have a whole bunch of friends sitting around the pot, cooking their bites of meat/tofu/vegetables and talking. BUT, I have to test it out first, right? Shouldn’t spring un-tested recipes on friends as the main entree, right?

So, the recipe calls for getting your broth boiling on the stove and then keeping it hot on the table in a hot pot, fondue port, or electric skillet. You know, something you can keep putting heat into in a regulated way. So a slow cooker should be able to pinch hit, right? Well, apparently not if you only just get the broth to boiling (needed more thermal inertia) and keep the slow cooker on low. The meat … cooked … as we dunked it. Just, not enough that we were really comfortable that the risk of food poisoning was low enough. So, Adam grabbed the beef slices, a little of the sauce, some of the broth, a bag of frozen veggies from the freezer, and stir-fried them all together. He also dumped the rice noodles that are supposed to soak in hot water near the end of the meal, get drained, and then sop up the remnants of the sauce and broth into the slow cooker of broth. And there-in we learned that the generic branded rice noodles available at Wegmans are not so great and in the future, we will be making a pilgrimage to a local Asian food store. If they give us permission, we’ll see about getting some pictures too. The Wegmans available rice noodles were just really, really, really bland. Even for rice noodles.

By the way, the sauce from this is awesome. Totally usable in more recipes.

Mongolian Hot Pot (ish)

Recipe count: 36 left
Section count: Entrees, beef: 0 left (I’m free! I’m free!)
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking
Serves 6

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 5 tbsp red miso
  • 1/4 cup toasted fiery sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • chopped chives
  • 1 lb beef top round, sliced very thinly
  • 1 bag of frozen vegetables, your choice
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage
  • 14 oz (i.e. 1 package) extra firm tofu
  • 8 oz spinach, trimmed, washed & dried
  • 32 oz carton of beef broth
  • 1 package dried rice noodles
  • 4 cups hot water
  1. In a blender, purèe the rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce, miso, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. Pour into individual serving bowls and garnish with the scallions and chives.
    Sauce Bowl
  2. Slice the cabbage and tofu into bit-sized pieces. Arrange the cabbage, tofu, and spinach on a platter. Stir fry the beef slices and frozen vegetables in a little bit of oil, sauce, and broth, until browned and vegetables cooked through.
  3. Soak the rice noodles in enough hot water to cover for about 10 minutes; drain. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil. Once broth is boiling and noodles have soaked, transfer the noodles to the broth, remove from heat, and bring the broth, individual sauce bowls, and the platter to the table.

Suggested eating implements: chopsticks.



4 thoughts on “In which a slow cooker does not successfully substitute for a fondue pot

  1. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email.
    I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be
    interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

    • Hi – we used the Zoren wordpress theme. You can find it through WordPress’s themes website. Best, the Cook and the Chemist.

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