Hot Pot Is for Everyone

Good morning. Hot pot’s on the docket for Saturday night: a big metal tureen of soup bubbling over a burner in the center of the dining table, into which we’ll float slices of beef, cubes of tofu, leafy greens, oyster mushrooms, rounds of sweet potato, rice cakes, cubes of daikon radish and lots and lots of dumplings to welcome the Lunar New Year.

Allison Jiang has the particulars in The New York Times, and Naz Deravian delivered a recipe (above) that’s really just an outline. Your hot pot might be numbingly spicy in the Sichuan tradition, loaded with seafood in the Cantonese style, made with meat or made only with vegetables. You might use vermicelli noodles in it. Or dried tofu sheets. I like chile crisp in mine, white pepper and a float of sesame oil across the surface of the broth. It’s fun to experiment.

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Our friends at Wirecutter have a smart guide to the equipment you’ll need to be a home hot pot ace, but it’s important to note that you can improvise too, using a slow cooker, Instant Pot or rice cooker in place of the induction or propane burner the experts call for. You could even use a fondue set, if you have one. (In Switzerland, there’s a holiday version of fondue called fondue Chinoise, which is essentially a Eurofied hot pot, with a rich beef broth used in place of the traditional cheese.) Hot pot’s for everyone.

As is the Super Bowl, which for many will take up most of Sunday’s hours: the 49ers and the Chiefs facing off in Las Vegas at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, as purely American a sentence as I have ever typed. You could make Buffalo chicken dip for the game, stromboli, pulled pork, turkey chili, Chex mix, garlic bread or queso.

I’ll go with chicken wings, ranch dressing and nachos, myself, with hot fudge sundaes for dessert. But follow your heart. I could imagine a really pleasant evening of steak Diane, with the Calidore String Quartet playing Beethoven in the background, no football anywhere and some gin rummy to wind down the evening.

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Now, it’s nothing to do with pork loin or barberries, but William Boyd, in The New York Times Book Review, got me excited to read Paul Theroux’s new novel, “Burma Sahib,” which is set in 1922 and imagines the life of 19-year-old Eric Blair as a police officer in what was then the British colony of Burma (now Myanmar), some years before Blair became the writer George Orwell.

The Brothers Sun,” on Netflix, manages to walk the border between comedy and drama fairly well, and the fight scenes are terrific — comic book panels brought to life.

And Patrick Radden Keefe on the mysterious death of a London teen, in The New Yorker? Riveting.

Finally, Paramore covering Talking Heads? Yes, actually: “Burning Down the House.” Hold tight. I’ll see you on Sunday.

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