After the initial gnashing of teeth and wailing about the indignities of age, I finally calmed down enough to answer my mom's question of what I wanted to do for my birthday dinner. I had already gone out with a bunch of my lovely friends on the Friday before (at a fantastic restaurant which I will write about in a separate post sometime) so all I really wanted to do was to stay home with the family and indulge in one of my all-time favorites--HOTPOT.
Hotpot is also known as steamboat, and is similar to shabu-shabu in that you get a big cauldron of stock into which you dip thinly sliced meats of seafood. Because they're so thin, they cook in a flash and then it's ready to be dipped in your own personal bowl of sauce and eaten. My personal blend is sha-cha, soy, and sesame oil, whereas my brother likes to go for straight gochujang (Korean bean paste) and my parents like to include fermented bean curd. It's a nice, communal way of eating, and although it's obviously more appropriate in winter, I love it enough to eat it anytime.
Here's a closer shot of the contents of our stock--there are as many variations as there are cooks. Ours had lots of fish balls, fishcakes, bok choy, beef tendon balls, pork balls, frozen tofu, regular tofu, and pumpkin. There almost wasn't enough room for the meat :).
All in all, a nice birthday!
And on a related note, one of my coworkers has the same birthday as I do, so I brought him a card and a lemon syrup cupcake. I just used the recipe for Lemon Bread from the Williams-Sonoma website, except that I doubled the syrup recipe and baked it in 12 cupcake liners instead of a loaf. When the weather starts to turn warm, I find that I prefer fruit and citrus flavors rather than chocolate, and this fit the bill nicely.