Having a destination wedding means having only a small number of guests attend your wedding. You will be married surrounded by the people who mean the most to you, many of them shoe-ins for being an attendant at the ceremony. But if you made all your close friends bridesmaids and groomsmen, who would be left to sit and watch you get married?
Liam and I have decide on almost no wedding attendants. My only brother will be his Best Man, and his only sister will be my Maid of Honour. Simple and clean-cut, we have our witnesses, both families are represented, no one can get offended. And although there are many girls in my life who I would be proud to have led my way down the aisle, I’m happy keeping the wedding party proportional to the size of the event.
Still. There are certain invaluable services the bridesmaids provide. Help with the planning and crafty touches, disseminating information to other guests, dress shopping and trousseau selection, getting the party started at the reception, and if they really like me, maybe even organizing a bridal shower? And what group of friends lets a bride in their midst get away without a bachelorette party! So although I have no official maids in uniform marching with me on The Big Day, I know I am lucky enough to have a circle of wonderful supportive women who I can count on for all that and more.
Recently I wanted to throw them a party, for no other reason than that they are awesome and deserve it. With the temperature forever dropping (winter is coming) I decided to warm everyone up with a Hot Pot Party. Here is the invitation I sent my girlfriends:
I first had Hot Pot with Liam at local restaurant. We had no idea what we were getting into, it was complete culture shock. We walked into a cloud of steam, condensation was dripping from the windows, the menu translations were baffling, every other table had a 4 generational family sitting at it, and a lot of the ingredients we would have never identified as food. We preserved, managed to order and pick familiar ingredients, and when we ate we enjoyed it. It was yummy! So we kept eating, and ate more after that. Then we managed to decipher a part of the menu that said if we didn’t finish all the food at our table we’d be charged a lot extra. Naturally, we started stuffing our face, and kept stuffing, and stuffed more after that. By the end of the night we were both ready to be sick. It was so hot and steamy, Liam was slumped on his chair and my head was on the table. It was date-night but we didn’t make the movie. We went home (pants got unbuckled in the car) and had the least attractive evening of our lives.
I related the story to by Chinese friend the next day and she good naturally laughed her ass of at me. She explained that Hot Pot is not just a meal, but an activity. You do it slowly, preferably after a long cold day, take breaks and chat with the group. It is not a quick bite to eat before catching the show! Fine, hot pot, you win, whatever.
She invited Liam and I over one night for a second try. We went in trepidation, afraid of the pressure to eat dangerous amounts of food that we literally couldn’t stomach a second time in our lifetimes. But of course it was delightful. Sure, her selection of meats, veggies, sauces, and noodles were nowhere near as vast as at the restaurant, but there was more than enough variety. Only one pot of boiling broth meant that the room was cozy instead of blisteringly balmy. And we took our time.
How to Have Hot Pot Party
I’m no expert, and got a lot of help from my friend, but I think I have the basics. To get going you need a few things; namely a hot pot, a gas stove, gas, and some slotted or basket spoons. You should be able to find them at an Asian grocery store, I got everything for the night at T&T.
The sky is really the limit for ingredients, have fun picking what you like, here’s what I bought:
- Lamb carpaccio
- Beef carpaccio
- Napa cabbage
- King oyster mushrooms
- Enoki mushrooms
Carbs, Sauces, and Broth
- Vermicelli noodles
- Hoisin sauce
- Hot sauce
- Satay sauce
- Schezwan sauce
- Soy sauce
- Hot-pot broth mild
- Hot-pot broth spicy
What to Do
- Slice up all the veggies. Plate everything on platters, put the sauce in bowls.
- Make the broth ahead of time on the stove. Follow the instructions on the package.
- Pour the hot broth into the hot-pot and turn on the flame (read instructions on the stove). Keep it at a slight boil.
- If you have a “lovers pot” (pot with divider) repeat with second broth.
- Give everyone bowl, a saucer, and chopsticks (and a back-up fork!)
- Everyone adds ingredients to the pot to cook.
- Fish the ingredients out with the slotted spoons as they become cooked.
- Add any combo of sauces to your ingredients and chow down!
- Make sure you have lots of ice water on-hand, this can get spicy.
There it is! Everyone remarked on how good it smelt when they stepped in the door, that broth is just so flavorful. There might have been a slight hesitation when we first sat down, but once all was explained, these girls dove right in. We had a great time together and I think everyone liked the food. We ate a lot. No one felt sick. Successes!