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Welcomes the New Season

FOODIE

When the mercury starts to fall in Hong Kong, closets open up for the city’s residents to excitedly reveal their heavy winter coats, boots, scarves and more. Of course it’s all relative – the temperature rarely ever gets below 10C/50F – but any drop in temperature is welcome for those used to heat and humidity for nine months of the year.

 

Another way that the change of seasons is heralded comes in the form of food, as Cantonese dishes and diets change to allow people to protect themselves against chills. One sure-fire way to do so comes in the form of hotpot, a hugely-popular dish and social dining experience like few others.

 

 

 

Hotpot is traditionally a group event – the bigger, the better. You start by ordering a soup base which is placed on a stove in the middle of the table. Mongolian style hotpot is known for its flavour-packed broth from herbs and berries, while Sichuan’s is of course far spicier thanks to their love of the numbing hua jiao pepper. Japan is famed for its own version called shabu shabu, while there are other regional versions across Asia.

 

Once you’ve made your choice of broth – and many places allow for two broths bubbling away side by side, it’s all about the skilful immersion of meat, seafood, vegetables, tofu and much more. Not unlike a fondue, you dip your skewer into the liquid until it’s done to your liking – while greens, fish balls and more are often added for the whole table to scoop out like a culinary lucky draw.

 

At Hotel ICON’s award-winning Cantonese restaurant Above & Beyond, this season’s hotpot choices include Braised Lamb Shank with Preserved Bean Curd,  Braised Abalone and Chicken with Black Garlic and Claypot Rice with Minced Wagyu Beef with Tangerine Peel and Parsley.

 

Other winter special dishes sure to warm both body and soul at Hotel ICON include a luxurious claypot rice with minced Wagyu beef, tangerine peel and parsley. Claypots are popular because they evenly heat dishes, while the base is largely rice.

 

In common with Spain’s paella, the goal is to get a mix of moister rice and crispier rice underneath that can be scraped off by eager diners. Claypots can be seen stacked outside restaurants in streetside mounds, with braziers of charcoal nearby, as well as in more upmarket dining venues.

 

Elsewhere on the winter menu comes a delicious slow-braised lamb shank with preserved bean curd, another guaranteed winter warmer, while Chinese preserved sausages or lap cheong are a perennial favourite thanks to the delicious mix of pork cuts sweetened, and seasoned with rosewater, rice wine and soy sauce.

 

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