There’s a type of dish served in China that’s different from conventional single dish foods. It’s actually a combination of dishes and sauces that when eaten, become a social experience more than an individual meal. Each person each person next the dish to their liking, as everyone contributes in some way to the hot pot.
What Is a Hot Pot?
If all of that sounds confusing, let me take a minute to explain hot pot to you.
This very social dish starts with a large pot of broth. Each person brings their own food to put into the pot comma like veggies or meats of some kind. All of these items go in the pot.
This very social dish starts with a large pot of broth. Each person brings their own food to put into the pot, like veggies or meats of some kind. All of these items go in the pot individually and one at a time or all together.
Each person will bring their own sauce as well for the hot pot. So, once a food is cooked in the broth, it can be taken out and then dipped into the sauce of choice. Some people may take the individual sauces they brought and combine them with other sauces to make something different.
How To Eat Hot Pot
A lot of the fun of the hot pot comes from the social aspect of it, just being together with other people and enjoying a meal. There’s a lot of fun to be had in cooking the food and combining it in different ways as well.
Your hot pot experience may be a little different from someone else’s, because you may be cooking different foods or have different sauces available, or you may have different interactions with the people you’re making it with. It’s people that make the hot pot just as much as the food does.
For the authentic hot pot experience, try to get at least a few people together to enjoy it with you, encouraging them to bring some of their own sauces and foods to cook in the pot. Once the food is cooking, it needs to be stirred around, and after it’s done cooking, people will scoop out their own food for themselves using large ladles and then serve the sauces themselves too.
How to Make Hot Pot Broth
The broth is the key component in hot pot, and I’ll show you one method for making it, but you should know there are tons of different varieties of hot pot broth you could go with. You may want to choose one based on the flavor profile you’re aiming for.
Maybe you want something spicy or something with a strong chicken flavor. There’s lots of hot pot recipes out there that can help you, but the one I’ll give you will be a good base broth to start with.
- 1 pound of chicken
- 2 stalks of celery
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 leek
- 1 medium onion
- 1 medium parsnip
- three springs of parsley
- 3 sprigs of time
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 black peppercorns
- 4 quarts of water
- Chop your vegetables, and then mix together the herbs, vegetables, chicken, and peppercorns in a large stock pot. Pour in water enough that it will cover the chicken all the way.
- Heat the water on medium high heat until it starts to boil. Then, lower to a simmer and scoop out any fat or scum from the broth’s surface.
- Cook the chicken broth for about an hour. Then, take the chicken out and allow the broth to continue to simmer. Let the chicken cool for 10 minutes and then separate the meat from the bones and set the meat aside, storing it for later or using it in the hot pot, if desired. Put the bones back into the pot and cook for an additional hour.
How to Make Hot Pot
You’ve made the broth, so now what to put in hot pot to finish it up? It already has some veggies, but you can add more in it if you like.
All sorts of meats make a good addition to the hot pot, including smoked sausage, beef, turkey, pork, meatballs, shrimp, and anything else you like. Feel free to add soy meat, imitation crab, or tofu.
You can also make this a heavier soup by adding potatoes or another kind of starchy, ground provision.
A lot of this is up to your own tastes and preferences and what people decide to bring to contribute to the hot pot. Almost anything can be added to this dish, but you want to make sure that any meat that’s going in there cooks long enough so that it’s safe to eat. It’s a good idea to have the meats precooked before they’re brought to the hot pot meal.
Once you start adding things to the hot pot, the heat should be turned to low to allow everything to simmer together. Additional seasonings can be added as well, including herbs, spices, and more.
You should have a number of small sauce dishes prepared for people to add their sauces to, as well as empty sauce dishes where people can combine multiple sauces to make something different.
Make sure you also have a big soup ladle to serve with, so your guests can get plenty of broth when they’re fishing around for meats and veggies in the hot pot.
It’s also important that all of your guests understand how the hot pot works and what’s supposed to go into it. It’s a type of dish most people have never had before if they’re not part of Chinese culture. Also let them know what kind of base you’re going to use, so they know what to expect and can tailor what they’re going to bring to fit.