Another acquired taste for me. It took me sometime to love the taste of the base. I first tasted this in Indonesia the other year. Apparently, the base seems to be common in Malaysia and Singapore as well.
The base can be prepared ahead and can be frozen. I used a blender to mix the following ingredients:
2 cloves of garlic
2 inches of cinnamon sticks
thumbsized peeled ginger
1/2 tsp of peppercorns
2 coarsely chopped medium onions
5 bay leaves
Blend the ingredients until you reach paste-like consistency. Use only an amount enough to give flavour to your soup. Wrap the left over in plastic wrap and freeze it for future use.
Now here's what you need to prepare the Hot Pot.
1 cup of fish head with flesh (white preferably)
1 cup of mussels
1/2 cup of prawns (optional)
about 1/4 cup of peeled radish
1/2 cup of snow peas, cleaned
1 cup of green leafy vegetables
In a saucepan, boil 3 cups of water. Add the soup base. Season with salt. Once the water boils, add all the ingredients at the same time putting the green ones last or on top. Watch that once the soup boils, you have to take the saucepan out of the burner and pour the soup in a serving bowl.