Asian Hot Pot
As you hop around restaurants trying hot pot, you might notice that each has a flavor or quality of its own. That’s because a hot pot recipe is flexible; it’s up to the chef (you!) to select the ingredients and broth flavors that sound the best for the night’s mood and season’s temperature.
A few of the elements that stay the same and remain traditional are a lengthy prep process (invite your friends to help), family-style meal indulgence, full choose-your-own dipping experience, and immense flavor paired with carefully selected dipping ingredients and dipping sauces.
How to Make a Hot Pot
Making hot pot is simple and fun. Get started by following traditional recipes, and then adding or substituting ingredients based on your preferences and guests’ dietary requests.
Use this recipe below to delight your taste buds and impress all of your dinner guests.
Chinese Hot Pot Recipe
- One tomato
- One green onion
- One batch of bean sprouts
- Two celery stalks
- One-half corn
- Three shiitake mushrooms
- Three liters of broth stock
Want to spice it up? Add these ingredients to your broth for heat:
- Three tablespoons of Doubanjiang
- Three tablespoons of chopped chili peppers
- One teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorn
- One star anise
- One to two dozen chili peppers (add sparingly and taste-test before adding more – chili peppers can be hot)
- One tablespoon of light soy sauce.
- Grab a large pot: fill with 3 L water; add chicken and pig bones (or plant-based alternative)
- Add ginger, long green onion, and white peppercorn
- Bring to boil
- Remove floaters
- Bring to low heat
- Simmer for one hour
- Add mushrooms, dates, tomatoes, scallions, corn, and celery
- Add salt and stock
If making hot pot spicy…
- Soak chili peppers in boiling water (30 min); mash
- Fry cloves, scallion and ginger
- Combine above ingredients with red peppers and doubanjiang; fry for 1 to 2 min
- Add to stock
- Add light soy sauce
- Simmer over low heat (15 min)
Before serving, taste test while on low heat. If you want to make the broth hotter or spicier, add the peppers one at a time and stir over low heat until you achieve the desired heat.
Create your own
The beauty of hot pot is that you can make the broth as mild or spicy as you like; make substitutions or additions where you feel inclined.
Let’s move on to the fun part of the hot pot experience – dipping!
Hot Pot Food Dippers
You can dip any ingredients you wish in a hot pot. That’s what makes the night so festive and fun. A few things to keep in mind are:
- Maximum absorbency: choose ingredients with sponge-like absorption
- Timing: dip/cook the most flavorful ingredients first (meat, seafood) and most bland last (starches)
- Separate pots for dietary restrictions: you might be serving hot pot DIY-style, but each dipped ingredient is making its way to the shared broth so include additional pot(s) if necessary
Best Ingredients to Dip in Hot Pot Recipes
- Vegetables (Veg)
- Leafy greens
- Taro root
- Carbs (Veg)
- Udon noodles
- Chow mein
- Meat: you probably won’t find meat that a guest doesn’t like, so feel free to include them all; it’s worth noting that chicken will take the longest to cook in the pot so sometimes, it’s a miss.
- Seafood: especially shellfish (make sure to have a separate pot for shellfish allergies)
- Vegetables (Veg)
The Dipping Sauces
The dipping sauce can absolutely make your hot pot night the unforgettable success it deserves to be. Sauce quality, quantity, and variety all play a major role in how your guests experience the final taste of the hot pot cooking routine. Depending on how many guests you invite, aim to provide a minimum of three sauce varieties with one of each sauce per two people.
A few of our favorite sauce bases are:
- Chili paste
What to Serve with Hot Pot Recipes
Beverages are always a tricky part of meal planning. When you host a hot pot night, rely on beer, tea, and sake as for your go-to drinks for the night. Non-alcohol drinkers will adore the plum tea, beer drinks can appreciate a clear, crisp Chinese pilsner, and sake is a beloved staple at any Asian Fusion gathering with friends and family.
- Tsing Tao Beer: this crisp Chinese pilsner is a refreshing beverage to drink with hot pot.
- Sour Plum Tea: If you haven’t tried sour plum tea, give it a go next time you prepare hot pot. The smoked plum and herb-infused tea are traditionally consumed to balance the body’s digestive process and promote internal equilibrium for optimal health.
- Sake: Sake is always a go-to choice when eating Chinese or Asian Fusion cooking.
Make It Vegetarian
Hot pot is easy to serve for vegetarian guests. Simply replace the chicken broth with a plant-based alternative. Two popular, flavorful options are Szechuan and Tom Yum.
- Szechuan: Szechuan is a super hot and earthy broth, full of spice, scallions, ginger, chilis, fennel and of course, namesake Szechuan peppercorns.
- Yam Noodles: Yam noodles naturally fall into the vegetarian category, and are great for those you want to include a lower-carb starch. Yam noodles are a traditional Japanese noodle known for their gooey, chewy texture.
You can either serve this broth for everyone at the table or have two separate pots for strict plant-based eaters. Having two pots is a fun way to let everybody try their ingredients of choice and to avoid any overlap in reaching over one another to dip ingredients.
Keep It Authentic
How you prepare your food goes a long way in Asian Fusion cooking – follow the instructions for food preparation as carefully as you follow the recipe itself. Take liberties if you must, but try to immerse yourself in the preparation process. Creating the meal is a big part of the culinary process in traditional Asian cooking, so put on some music, invite some friends, and enjoy the prep as its own event.
It’s also wise to follow general Asian cooking guidelines to get the best idea of how a recipe is supposed to taste. From there, it’s easy to determine what worked or what didn’t work. Make substitutions based on flavor palettes and dietary restrictions, but adhere to a few general standards:
- Use fresh ingredients to promote wellness and maximize the benefits involved with eating.
- Shop locally to indulge in your community’s natural resources and freshest food supply
- Eat according to the season – this includes seasonal ingredient variety as well as serving dishes at a temperature that complements the current temperature conditions.
Let Us Know What You Think
Have you tried cooking hot pot? What are the ingredients, substitutions or combinations that have worked well for you and your guests? We’d love to hear about it! Share your experiences and opinions in the comments section below.
Zhen Wei Feng
Zhen Wei Feng is Brooklyn’s favorite Asian Fusion bistro. Dine with us to enjoy authentic recipes infused with Japanese and French flair. Bring your partner, a slew of friends, or a new group to try our chefs’ unparalleled creations in a modern, eclectic environment. We look forward to serving you, soon.