Well, I finally was able to try Thai hot pot...right in my own town.
I haven’t spent much time Thailand, and when I did travel there, it was in the days before The Tabletop Cook. I was more likely to be looking for cheap beer and cheap buckets (of rum and coke) than the best hot pot or tabletop grilling experience in town. But in working on this website, researching recipes and the ways people all around the world enjoy tabletop cooking, I learned about the different styles of Thai hot pot, including jim jum made in a clay pot.
I figured I’d have to wait until our next vacation to travel to Thailand and find a Thai hot pot place, but it seems that if we hang out long enough in our little overlooked city in Taiwan that all the tabletop cooking experiences will find us eventually. A jim jum place opened up downtown earlier this year and now there’s a Costco twenty minutes away. I’m starting to wonder if we’ll ever really have to leave.
Jim jum Thai hot pot
I have to say that after all our various hot-pot meals, jim jum didn’t seem especially exotic. We eat a lot of Chinese and Taiwanese hot pot, usually served in a metal pots. But Japanese hot pot comes in a clay pot called a donabe, so the clay pot used for our jim jum meal wasn’t too excited. Like Japanese shabu shabu, which is so-called because its name represents the swishing sound the meat makes when it’s dunked into the boiling water, jim jum is Thai for “dip and drop”.
The pot was heated over a style of charcoal we know by its Japanese name, binchotan. This charcoal burns without producing smoke and is ideal for cooking indoors.
We had the lemongrass broth as a base for our hot pot. It was a version of the hot and sour tom yum soup but without the intense flavor and spice. We love a good, spicy hot pot, but we already have a recipe for tom yum hot pot and we wanted to try something else. It was a really mild and pleasant broth that quickly picked up the flavors of the meat and vegetables steeped in it. For a Thai hot pot, I’d even say that I prefered this lemongrass broth over the tom yum because I still got to dip everything in a sauce before I ate it. The tom yum soup was so spicy, sour, and salty that it clashed with the dipping sauce (though you could easily enjoy it without any additional condiments).
Another first for us was the tomato-based sauce provided as a dip for our hot pot. I researched a few recipes and learned that this kind of sauce is endemic to Laos and northern Thailand went so well with our fragrant soup.
Some of my favorite online stores might have just what you need for your next tabletop meal!
Asian Food Grocer has a great selection of essential ingredients and many hard-to-find items.
Cilantro Cook Shop has a great selection of quality raclette and fondue sets.
For The Gourmet has an amazing selection of cheeses and chocolates.
Sephra specializes in chocolate, caramel and fruit fondues... and fountains.