What Is Hot Pot Food?

If you haven’t dabbled in hot pot food, you have a delicious world of wonder ahead! Hot pot is a traditional Chinese cooking method that involves creating a broth and using it to cook raw meats, fish, vegetables, and starches such as noodles. It’s beloved for 

Hot pot is a cultural staple with a long-standing history. Known for its nutritious benefits and family-focused activity, this traditionally Asian dish is celebrated worldwide today. Here are a few of the reasons everybody loves to make it:

  • Communal. Hot pot is large enough to feed a family or a group of friends, so it is always a communal activity. In traditional Chinese culture, eating is a celebratory activity and promotes good well-being by bringing loved ones together and enjoying a delicious meal. The communal aspect can always be supported by teaming together to make the broth and prepare the pieces to dip.
  • Mixed Plates. An assortment of prepared meats, starches and vegetables are dipped into the simmering broth and enjoyed. This allows each guest to mix and match and make their own plate, pleasing everybody’s appetite. 
  • Dip and Cook. It’s fun and easy! Dipping the sliced ingredients into the broths adds an activity element to the dinner, and it is fun for everybody to participate.

How to Eat Hotpot

Eating hot pot is fun! It takes a bit of preparation and broth-making mastery, but the rest is all about choosing your meats or noodles to dip and then delight in them amongst family and friends. Let’s take a look at the necessary steps of eating hot pot.

Prepare Intentionally

Consider who’s coming to dinner (diet restrictions, preferences, number of people), and which type of broth you’re making. This will help determine which ingredients are best for you to prepare to cook. Preparing, slicing, and sorting are essential to a successful hot pot, so make sure to take care of this before your guests arrive.

Make the Broth

Follow a traditional hot pot broth recipe to maximize the flavor of the evening. If you have spices of your own that you’re hoping to infuse, don’t hold back, but do your best to otherwise stick to an authentic list of ingredients.

Toss in the most flavorful pieces first; end with starches.

Cook meats, fish and aromatic vegetables first, as these will help build the flavor of the broth. Add in noodles and bread toward the end so they can soak up the most flavorful parts of the broth. 

Dip to Cook and Flavor

Dip meat and fish directly into the pot of boiling broth to cook; you might set a timer for your estimate of hot pot cooking times per ingredient.

Save Bread and Noodles for Last

Bread and noodles soak up the flavor of the hot pot, so save these for bites for last. You’ll get the most robust flavor if you wait until after all the meat and fish have been added. 

Dip in Sauces

Once your ingredient choice is cooked to your liking, dip it in your sauce of choice! You’ll quickly come to notice how imperative the dipping sauces are at hot pot nights.

Now, let’s look at a few staple tips to keep in mind when you invite your friends over for hot pot.

How to Do Hot Pot

  • Family Time

Make your hot pot gathering about spending time with the people you love most! Ask your family to come and enjoy together, or get a group of close friends over for the meal.

  • Gatherings for Friends

Make hot pot night a reason for everybody to get together; try hosting it at a new friend’s house once a month with an optional potluck style.

  • Preparing Together

Preparing the broth and ingredients is an integral part of the meal, so opt to take part in the prep festivities together.

  • Savor Together at the Right Time in the Season

Hot pot is best served in the winter months or at a time in the year when everybody could use an immune boost.

  • Opt for a Split Pot

One way to cater to a group with meat-lovers and vegetarians is to use a split pot, where the pot is split in half to safely provide two pots of the same broth or two different broths.

How to Do Hot Pot

Types of Ingredients

What you choose to put in your broth or dip to cook is entirely up to you. Below, you can find a list of recommended ingredients to try. You by no means have to use these in hot pot, and you are encouraged to try other foods that you think will be a good match for the flavor of your broth.

Types of Broth

  • Tom Yum
  • Chicken Broth
  • Vegetarian 
  • Spicy Szechuan 
  • Dippers


  • Bok Choy
  • Watercress
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Tofu


  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Oyster
  • Squid
  • Lobster


  • Shangdon


  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb

Dipping Sauces

Dipping sauces are what make a good hot pot great! Add the right combination of ingredients, and offer your guests a spicy sauce, a nutty sauce, a salty sauce or an earthy sauce. Aim to provide five to ten dipping sauces at your hot pot night.

  • Soy sauce
  • Chopped garlic
  • Scallions
  • Peppers
  • Peanut

Do You Have Tips on How to Eat Hotpot? Let Us Know!

Have you hosted a hot pot night at home? If so, we’d love to know how it went! Let us know about broth tips, best dips and dipping ingredients in the comments below.

Zhen Wei Feng

At Zhen Wei Feng, we prioritize authentic Asian cooking and bringing our guests a sense of cultural tradition. Hot pot is a lifelong long family dish; it’s a staple of friend groups, communities, and typical Chinese dining. Give the hot pot a try at home or come into our location in Brooklyn for a taste of the best hot pot in town. We hope to see you and serve you soon.