Vietnamese food is strongly influenced by Cantonese cooking, seeing how people have commingled across borders over the millennia. Delicious culinary exchanges have resulted and one of the dishes that has become very popular in Vietnam is the chrysanthemum hot pot, a classic preparation called ta pien lu in Cantonese and ta pin lu Vietnamese. It’s simple and easy, a festive preparation that I like to make for cool weather meals.
Most of the prep is done ahead and you get to mix and match ingredients. In fact, it’s better when there’s a marriage of land and sea. If you’re unfamiliar with Chinese hot pots, it’s like a fondue but you’re dipping a raw morsel in stock to cook it, then dunk it in a sauce to eat.
According to Florence Lin’s Cooking with Fire Pots, the chrysanthemum hot pot was traditionally seasoned with the petals of white chrysanthemums, which are considered unsafe in America since they are commonly sprayed. She decorates her platters with a large chrysanthemum to make up for the difference.