Asian-Inspired Fondue

Fondue can be much more than hot oil for dipping meat, cheese for dipping bread or chocolate for dipping strawberries, though those are all marvelous. 

You can do one Shabu Shabu style, with an Asian broth for cooking, and dips for finishing with an assortment of seafood, vegetables, strips of meat and poultry to select from.  Or, more for entertaining, I’ve created a “finishing fondue” where the bubbling liquid is actually a glaze and the ingredients are par cooked.  That way, the gratification is instant!  And you can design your accompaniments to bring in the wine pairing!

Here are 2 dipping sauce ideas:

Coconut Lemongrass Sauce

1 can light coconut milk
1/4 cup strong Early Grey or Green Tea
1 stalk lemon grass, tough outer leaves removed and tender stalk chopped
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon fish sauce

Combine coconut milk, tea, lemon grass and ginger in a saucepan, bring to a boil, turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until thick and full of flavor. Add lime zest and juice and fish sauce and simmer for 2 minutes longer or until flavor has developed. Strain and transfer to fondue to keep warm while you dip to your heart’s content.

Sour Sweet Sauce

1 cup rice vinegar or Mirin
1 cup chicken stock or black tea
3 dried shitake or porcini mushrooms
2 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves trimmed and tender stalk chopped
1/2 cup palm or brown sugar, lightly packed (or fruit paste such as quince)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 fresh red chilies, minced, or ½ teaspoon chili oil
2 tablespoons fish sauce.
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan or pot. Stir and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a thin glaze like consistency. Strain to remove tomatoes and mushrooms.

When sauce has been reduced to desired consistency, remove from heat. Taste-test and adjust according to your liking. For a sweeter sauce, add a little more sugar. If not spicy enough, add more chili. If not salty or flavorful enough, add a splash more fish sauce. Transfer to fondue, or refrigerate until needed.

Dipping ideas:  Rare cooked sliced beef, steamed chicken breast strips, cooked prawns and scallops, cooked button mushrooms, carrots and peppers, strips of green onion, water chestnuts, or any preferred vegetables.

Wine pairing:  Pair Hestan’s robust Meyer Vineyard Syrah or Meyer Vineyard Cabernet with the Sour Sweet Sauce using beef, shitake or portabella mushrooms, roasted squash, carrots and broccolini.  For a lighter touch with the Hestan Chardonnay or even the Stephanie Merlot, prepare the Coconut Lemongrass Sauce with seafood, steamed green beans, asparagus, peppers and chestnuts.