Fondue is widely considered a typical Swiss Dish. Most people think about Cheese Fondue when they hear about it and every tourist in Switzerland usually tries a “typical” cheese fondue and ends up with stomach aches, because they are not used to all this melted cheese. What many do not know is this: It is very important to NOT drink water or soda with a cheese fondue but either warm tea or some white wine. I’m not in particular fond of cheese fondue, but if I end up eating some, I ALWAYS drink only warm tea with it, which helps to digest the mass rather fatty cheese. (btw, this rule also goes for Raclette)
This is what Wikipedia has to say about Fondue:
“Fondue (French pronunciation: [fɔ̃’dy]) is a Swiss, French, and Italian dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot (caquelon) over a portable stove (réchaud), and eaten by dipping long-stemmed forks with bread into the cheese. It was promoted as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) in the 1930s but its origins stem from an area that covers Switzerland, France (Rhone Alps) and Italy (Piedmont and Aosta valley).
Since the 1950s, the name “fondue” has been generalized to other dishes in which a food is dipped into a communal pot of hot liquid: chocolate fondue, in which pieces of fruit are dipped into a melted chocolate mixture, and fondue bourguignonne, in which pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil.”
I remember when I was in San Diego a couple of years ago I went to a small Fondue Restaurant in La Jolla called “Forever Fondue” with a couple of fellow students. For me, as a Swiss Person, it was absolutely hilarious! It was so incredibly cute to listen to the waiter explaining the dish to a group of Swiss and Japanese students. The Swiss thought it was totally funky to have Fondue in California and the Japanese were a bit flabbergasted by this weird food. The restaurant served Cheese Fondue for starters, Meat and Fish Fondue as a Main Dish and Chocolate Fondue for dessert. Let me tell you this: No Swiss person in their right mind would normally eat all of them in one sitting. 😀 But hey, it was a very unique experience! The people from Forever Fondue are also quite innovative and a visit is really worthwhile.
When I was living in Germany, a lot of my german acquaintances would make Meat Fondue, where they cooked pieces of meat in hot oil. Which is, in my opinion, still way too heavy and not really my choice of fondue.
Therefore, today I would like to introduce you to Fondue Chinoise – my favourite festive winter meal! (well… we’ve had it almost every weekend since X-mas and are still not tired of it, it’s simply so good!)
It is actually quite similar to Fondue Bourgingnonne but instead of hot oil, you use broth. Whether it is beef broth or veggie broth is entirely up to you. Personally, I like to use veggie broth. I also add one carrot and one leek cut into slices and heat it up on the stove. Here in Switzerland, you can buy very thinly sliced and rolled up meats in every variation. From beef, veal, pork, chicken and turkey to even horse. My favourite is turkey, since it’s not too expensive and it cooks to be very tender in the broth.
To go with the meat, there are various dips (either store bought or homemade), pickles, antipasti and potato chips. And that’s it. Everyone helps themselves to what they like, put the meat on the long forks and put them into the hot broth for a couple of minutes. When the meat is done, take it out and enjoy.
And here’s the best part – when you’re finished, don’t throw away the soup! Keep it for the next day, add any leftover meat and maybe some dried tortellini, heat up and voila – you have a full meal and an incredible tasty soup.
My Mom doesn’t like to eat soup the next day, so she actually freezes the broth into ice cubes and uses it as a base whenever she cooks risotto.
Fondue Chinoise is a great meal in my opinion, because it doesn’t involve a lot of cooking or preparation. The Mister and I love to have it during the winter months – just the two of us and a good movie. Heaven. 🙂