5 Friendsgiving Hot Pot Tips from TJ Lee and Her Food Fest Menu

published Nov 11, 2021
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Credit: Bijou Karman

Night four of this year’s Thanksgiving Food Fest took place on Wednesday, November 10, and it was like no other. For those of you who haven’t tuned in yet, our pre-Thanksgiving celebration features five nights of recipes put together by five talented chefs and cooks sharing their interpretations for a distinctive Thanksgiving menu. From French cuisine to Southern-style cooking, our goal is to leave you with a set of fresh new ideas to serve up at this year’s Thanksgiving gathering.

Last night was all about Friendsgiving, and food host and actress TJ Lee shared a wonderful Taiwanese Friendsgiving menu. She centered the menu around her Hot Pot with Homemade Pork Bone Broth, then added Taiwanese Cold Noodles, Taiwanese Cucumber Salad, a Lychee Sparkler, and a Matcha Tiramisu Cup. The recipes are just packed with culture, comfort, and charisma.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first time throwing a hot pot meal, or if you’ve done it a million times over: these five tips will help you make this year’s gathering the best of them all.

1. Always ask people to sign up to bring something.

Whether you’re hosting a Friendsgiving event with your closest pals or are looking to put a cultural spin on this year’s Thanksgiving gathering, TJ thinks that one of the most important things you should do is not take on all the work yourself. Instead, she suggests having people sign up and make it similar to a potluck.

“Ask your friends to bring something, but know what they’re bringing,” she told Kitchn’s Executive Editor Patty Lee. “When we do Friendsgiving, we usually have an Excel sheet. We have who’s bringing actual food, who’s bringing snacks, who’s bringing drinks, who’s bringing things like extra cups or utensils if we need it. If they do bring something, it just brightens up the menu and the things that you already have. It’s just so festive.”

2. If you make your hot pot broth, it should be as clear as possible.

One of the most important elements to creating the perfect hot pot experience for your guests is to have a clear broth. And, according to TJ, that’s actually easier than you may think. “What you wanna do first is we actually want to clean the bone as much as possible, because we want the clearest broth,” she said. “So, you’re gonna soak the bones into cold water for about 30 minutes.”

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Andie McMahon

3. Use her clever chopstick trick for making the broth even better.

If you find yourself having a little trouble getting your broth to the level of clearness suitable for serving to your guests, TJ’s simple chopstick trick will fix that problem. “Sometimes when you cover it, it like, condenses and then it drops back into a soup,” she said. “So, for a clearer broth, a little trick that my parents do is we’ll actually put some chopsticks here [on the pot before you place the top]. So, it just lets the steam out. And, then you just have a clear broth.”

4. Don’t season your broth too strongly.

TJ advises only adding a small amount of chicken powder, white pepper, and salt to your hot pot broth. This provides a good neutral base of flavor as the other ingredients are dropped into the pot.

“The thing with this broth is, you’re not trying to season it too much and make it so salty or flavorful,” she said. “You want it clear because we are dipping a bunch of stuff in it. And, as we dip the meat and add the vegetables, all of that flavor is gonna add to the broth.”

5. Switch up the dessert!

Whether you’re making the main dish or creating the dessert, TJ encourages you to place your spin on your dish. While creating the dessert — a Matcha Tiramisu Cup — during her Hot Pot Friendsgiving, she noted how using your favorite flavors to create a unique spin should be top of mind.

“Tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts ever,” she said. “Matcha is a very popular flavor in a lot of Asian desserts. So, matcha pudding, matcha tea, matcha boba. Matcha everything, right? So, I just knew we have to add matcha into our Asian-inspired menu today.”