This past weekend was my next door neighbor's birthday. We started the weekend off with a Shabu Shabu feast. It was my first Shabu experience, and so homey that I don't think I'll ever try it in a restaurant. My neighbor explained to me that when she was growing up, Shabu Shabu was a weekly occurrence. She explained that it wasn't just a meal, it was an event. Everyone would sit around the hot pot and tell stories and fill up on veggies and protein.
Shabu shabu is basically an Asian fondue, except you don't put a fork in your own meat and account for it while it cooks. Everything goes in the pot, and you bring out what you want to your bowl. The broth in the pot becomes very flavorful from all the ingredients being poached, and was delicious on it's own.
Here's the veggie spread. We had Napa cabbage, mustard greens, onions, garlic, tomatoes, tofu, mushrooms, some weird fish blocks and noodles. As a size reference, this is a paella pan, and it is sitting on the stove, covering all four burners.
Here's some more pictures of the entire spread. There was so much food it wouldn't fit on one table. We had potstickers, shrimp, clams, ribeye and pork in addition to all the veggies.
The meat was so beautifully wrapped! After all this food, we were in extreme food coma, but it wasn't the uncomfortable coma because we didn't eat many carbs. This would be a fabulous dinner idea for a vegetarian. My favorite items were the tofu and cabbage, surprisingly. I never craved the meat. I'm now wondering how a poached egg would do in there???
And finally, a birthday party is never a party without a cake. My neighbor, being a chef, blew out the candles on this cake, shaped as a chef's hat. Inside, it was seven layers (would have been eight, but it was way too top heavy). Each layer was sandwiched with dark chocolate mousse, and the whole package was frosted with white frosting. Despite what it looks like, I did do a crumb coat. Who knew it would be that hard to frost a dark cake with white icing. Many lessons learned for next time. What will be next??