Do you love hot pot? It’s a cook-for-yourself meal that consists of a pot of hot simmering broth and varieties of raw ingredients that you cook by dropping them into the broth. (Think Shabu-shabu, one of the more popular hot pot style.) Especially on cold winter days, a steaming hot meal prepared right on the table in front of you is heaven! It is also a fun group activity. Chinese families often celebrate the new year getting together for a hot pot meal, super easy to do at home. Here are some basic ideas to get you started:
You need cooking pot and heat source. Metal pot, clay pot, any pot that is suitable for soup will do. You can also find special pots with dividers that allow you to have different flavored broth at the same time. There are varieties of portable burners that are perfect for hot pot, gas, electric, induction cooker, etc. You can also get an electric multi-cooker that has it’s own heating element built inside. Don’t forget to pick up some chopsticks, tongs and hotpot strainers while you are shopping. They will make the experience much easier and fun.
FRESH INGREDIENTS FOR THE TABLE
Many kinds of food can be used for hot pot, there’s really not just one way to do it. Usual items you can find on a table are sliced meat & fish, shellfish, leafy greens like napa cabbage, root vegetables like daikon and carrots, mushrooms, tofu, fishcakes and meatballs, etc. Use your imagination! Even Spam is considered a must have in some cultures. Just be mindful of the flavors you are adding. You also don’t want to surprise your guests with unusual items if you are having a gathering. Watch out for food that dissolve in water, not very satisfying when that happens.
BROTH & DIPPING SAUCE
The kind of broth to start a pot with can be as simple as plain water, maybe with a little bit of kombu for flavoring. You will be adding plenty more flavors later when you start cooking ingredients in the pot. But why not have some fun! Hot pots from different regions of the world have different characters. If you have access to an Asian market, you can probably find soup base packets. (They are also available online at Amazon.) You can also start a simple broth with short ribs, napa cabbage, tomatoes and daikon. Make a big pot so you can refill the hot pot when the liquid gets low.
You will need some dipping sauce, too, also available in markets. But it can be made easily with soy sauce, garlic, sugar and white vinegar. To get your imagination going, below are some broth and sauce recipes. Increase the portion when necessary.
2 large carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup mushrooms, halved
12 cups water
Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a pot, then simmer on low heat for an hour and it’s ready.
SICHUAN MALA BROTH
3 ginger slices
2 green onions, cut into 1 1/2 inch sections
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
5-7 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorn (adjust to your taste)
2 ounces dried red chili peppers (adjust to your taste)
3 star anise
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon clove
3-5 fresh red chili peppers, sliced
1 tablespoon red chili powder
2 tablespoons Chinese hot bean paste
7 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon cooking oil
- In a large pot heat 1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil over low heat, add Sichuan peppercorn and dried red chilis and cook until fragrant. Remove and set aside.
- In the same pot heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil, cook ginger and green onion until fragrant. Mix in the minced garlic and shallot.
- Add star anise, clove and cinnamon, cook until fragrant.
- Add red chili powder and fresh red chili peppers, stir and cook until fragrant. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil for 15 minutes.
- Filter out the solids, then add the spicy bean paste, Sichuan peppercorn and dried red chilis, bring to a boil. Done! Adjust the amount of spicy hot ingredients according to your tolerance.
7 ounces kimchi, cut into sections
6 tablespoons kimchi liquid
Half of a medium size onion, sliced
5 cups low salt chicken stock
1 tablespoon cooking oil
- In a large pot heat the cooking oil, add onion and cook until fragrant
- Add kimchi, stir until hot, then mix in the kimchi liquid
- Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Done!
Here are a few recipes for dipping sauce. Try experimenting with different ingredients and amount to suit your taste. And, of course, make more for a big party!
DIPPING SAUCE FOR VEGETABLES
Ingredients: Taiwanese sweet chili sauce 甜辣醬 3 tablespoons, fish sauce 2 teaspoons, minced garlic 1 teaspoon, chopped cilantro 2 teaspoons. Mix all ingredients well together. If you can’t find Taiwanese sweet chili sauce, just use Chinese chili sauce and sugar.
DIPPING SAUCE FOR MEAT
Ingredients: sesame paste 3 tablespoons, peanut powder 1 teaspoon, minced garlic 3 teaspoons, sugar 2 teaspoons, chicken stock. Mix well together everything except the chicken stock, then slowly mix in chicken stock until desired thickness.
DIPPING SAUCE FOR SEAFOOD
Ingredients: thick soy sauce 3 tablespoons, Chinese black vinegar 1 1/2 tablespoons, sugar 1 teaspoon, minced garlic 2 teaspoons, minced ginger 2 teaspoons, chopped cilantro 2 teaspoons. Mix all ingredients well together.
DIPPING SUACE FOR ANYTHING
Ingredients: sha cha sauce 沙茶醬 (Chinese BBQ sauce) 3 tablespoons, peanut powder 1 teaspoon, soy sauce 2 teaspoons, 1 egg yolk. Mixed all ingredients well together. You can use the whole egg if you don’t want the egg white to go to waste. This is a very popular hot pot dipping sauce.
Aren’t you itching to get a hot pot going? Now, you don’t really need to wait for a crowd to enjoy eating hot pot. If you have some basic ingredients at home, you can always use a small pot and cook everything on the stove. It’s a true one-pot meal. Hmm… making and freezing some broth ahead of time sounds like a good idea!