Winter is always the best season when you get hot pot eating, either in the restaurants or at home. We have encountered with the strongest cold weather around 4 days ago. Most of southern provinces had their first snow in this winter. In order to warm ourself up, we eat three times of hot pot in those cold days.
I am a big home made hot pot fan since it is so comforting, warming and convenient to cook at home. Let's find how to prepare a great hot pot part at home. By the way, if you are interested in looking into hot pot history and want to get some inspirations, check Hot Pot Introduction Page
Hot Pot equipments
The first thing is to prepare is the equipments, mainly refers to the pot and the heater. You can choose to purchase a electric cooker with the pot like this Shabu Shabu Hot Pot, Electric Mongolian Hot Pot W/DIVIDER. But show cooker is not recommended for hot pot since the time needed is a little bit long. This time, I use a outdoor stove, which is bought for making videos. For the pot, we recommend using a wider pot so all of the hot pot participant can blanching their favorite ingredients simultaneously. Usually we serve only one type of broth, but if you are caring to serve two types of broth, this pot can be a great helper.
In addition you need longer chopsticks to avoid be burnt from the pot and the splashes. Hot pot scoop and strainer can help to hold fragile ingredients.
Cook's Note before staring
- Light stock or basic stock should be prepared as a larger amount. For example, if your pot can hold 3L water, prepare at least 5L stock. During the eating process, reload the stock when the liquid is lowered.
- For spicy hot pot, add a small drop of vinegar can make the spices milder.
- Do not eat too much|As most of the ingredients are presented as raw ingredients and shared by each other, it is hard to calculate how much has been eaten by one person. Additionally, hot pot dinners usually last for a longer time than normal dinners, which creates more chances of uncomfortably full. During the process, stand up and walk around, stop as long as you feel slightly full.
- Order of blanching the ingredientsAlthough there is no particular limit, leafy vegetables should be added at the ending because in most cases, they will absorb the flavor and spoil the soup base.
- Do not forget about the drink|The best drinks for hot pot in China is fruit juice especially watermelon juice or corn milk. Or mung bean soup is highly recommended as it can help to reduce the hotness.
Hot Pot Soup Bases
The soup base is the coral part of making hot pot at home. Generally there are two types of soup bases, spicy mala hot pot (also called 红汤 in Chinese ) and mild hot pot (清汤). In addition, soup bases can be greatly personalized based on the ingredients in your fridge. For example in China, we have lamb soup base, beef soup base, coconut chicken soup base and coconut chicken soup base. You can check how to make hot pot soup base at home to finish preparing your hot pot soup base.
Another easy hot pot soup base is to use store bought soup bases, almost all famous hot pot restaurants provide their own hot pot soup base package to customers. In China, hot pot soup bases can be sold at least hundreds of millions. They can be very easy to find in Chinese stores.
Recommended hot pot soup base brands | We get lots of famous hot pot soup base brands to choose in China. There are over 30 restaurants providing their hot pot soup base for home cooking. But most of them are out famous and unavailable outside China. If you ever visit China, you can purchase several bags and find your personal favorite taste. There are 2 brands do seek opportunity overseas.
Little sheep hot pot soup base| this is a very famous brand outside China. Clear soup is 100% ok but if you want a Sichuan style mala hot pot, you need to add more chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorn to the spicy soup base.
Hai Di Lao is another brand you may find in Chinese stores or asian stores.
Hot Pot Ingredients
In theory, all ingredients can be cooked in hot pot but there are some well known hot pot ingredients.
Hot pot meat slices (火锅肉卷) including sliced lamb and sliced beef. The meat is sliced very thin and can be cook just in seconds.
Meatballs (肉丸) including fish meatballs (鱼丸), beef meatballs (牛肉丸), shrimp balls and pork balls, either freshly made balls or frozen ones.
(Optional) Edible Offal (内脏) like tripe, liver. This optional is famous for Sichuan Mala hot pot. Do not recommend this type in mild hot pot. Beef tripe is the most popular and famous ingredients for real Sichuan hot pot.
Seafood: shrimp, mussels, scallops, lobster, crabs, oysters, clams and abalone. Shrimp is the most popular hot pot ingredients. To prepare shrimp, just divine them and keep the shells.
Mushrooms, all kinds of mushrooms can perform well in hot pot soup base including king oyster mushrooms (should be thinly sliced) , enoki mushroom, also called needle mushrooms (remove hard ends), oyster mushroom and shiitake mushroom (cut into small pieces )
Root vegetable| potatoes, lotus root, yam, taro, radish. Potatoes and lotus root should be soaked in clear water after thinly sliced to avoid oxidation.
Melons: cucumber, winter melon, pumpkin, tomatoes.
Tofu and tofu balls (豆腐): both soft tofu or firm tofu perform good in hot pot. If you want to cook soft tofu in hot pot, get a strainer to hold the tofu and prevent it breaking. Frozen tofu (冻豆腐) and fried tofu (油豆腐) are also popular hot pot ingredients.
Bean vermicelli and other noodles(粉丝和面条): bean vermicelli, potato noodles, sweet potato noodles and fresh handmade noodles can work as staple food for a hot pot meal.
Green leafy vegetables and others (绿叶蔬菜): including snow pea leaves, bok choy, cabbage, yu choy, Chinese broccoli cauliflower and broccoli. Choose seasonal leafy vegetables (2 to 3 types). Leafy vegetable are best for mild hot pot soup base. If cooked in a spicy soup base, they absorb and flavors and become very very hot. If you are a spicy food lover, vegetables in spicy soup broth can be amazing.
Hot Pot Dipping sauces
There are generally several types of hot pot dipping sauces in China.
1.Sesame paste based dipping sauce, popular in Northern provinces, usually served with lamb hot pot (涮羊肉).
2.Sesame oil based dipping sauce, originally come from Sichuan province in Chengdu and Chongqing hot pot. Sesame oil is used as the main base, highlighted by other chili paste, smashed garlic, fermented tofu and freshly chilis. A more pure version is using only sesame oil, garlic, salt and chopped green onion and coriander.
3. Dry mix dipping sauce (干碟)| this is a special dipping sauce for Sichuan mala hot pot. Best for meats and seafoods. Dry spices are mixed with a good ratio.
4.Sha Cha based dipping sauce for beef hot pot and seafood hot pot. Sha cha sauce is a sauce made from grounded fish and shrimp. It partners well with beef and other seafood, as the top 1 option for Cantonese beef hot pot.
Following are the common used condiments and seasonings used in dips. You can combine your own hot pot dipping sauce based on personal taste.
Main sauces: Sha cha sauce, peanuts sauce, oyster sauce, sesame paste, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, vinegar, black bean sauce
Oil: chili oil, sesame oil, olive oil
Others: salt, roasted peanuts, coriander, mashed garlic, Spring onion, pepper flakes (辣椒面), fermented tofu (豆腐乳), chopped fresh peppers (辣椒圈)
For daily homemade hot pot, you can make the dipping sauce directly.The most two popular option is:
1.This one is the most popular dipping sauce for most of Sichuan hot pot : sesame oil+ smashed garlic+ salt or light soy sauce + green onion|coriander + toasted sesame seeds |peanut
2.This one is the ideal one for lamb or beef hot pot : Sesame sauce (2 tbsp. sesame paste +3 tbsp. warm water +½ tbsp. light soy sauce + 1 small pinch of salt ) + coriander or green onion +smashed garlic + toasted sesame seeds or toasted peanuts
How to Make Hot Pot at Home
- 1 package of hot pot soup base
Light chicken stock
- 1000 g chicken cut into chunks
- 250 g pork bones
- 8-10 white peppercorn
- 1 long green onion 大葱, cut into small sections
- 1 thumb ginger smashed
- 5 L water
Hot Pot Ingredients
- 1 box of sliced meat lamb, pork belly or beef
- 500 g meatballs shrimp balls, pork balls, beef balls. You can get the frozen one from the store
- 1 box of regular firm tofu or soft tofu
- 250 g dark leafy vegetables bok choy, cabbage, snow pea leaves etc, choose the seasonal ones
- 250 g mixed mushrooms shiitake mushroom, needle mushroom and others
- 300 g seafood mainly shrimp or oyster
- 400 g root vegetable and melons peeled and cut into thin slices
- Sesame oil as needed
- Chopped green onion
- Chopped coriander
- smashed garlic
- Light soy sauce as needed
- Vinegar as needed
- Roasted white sesame seeds
- corn milk
- fruit juice watermelon juice, smoothie
Cook the light stock
- In a large pot with water, add chicken, pig bones, white peppercorn, long green onion and ginger. Bring to a boiling and skim any floats on the surface. Slow down the fire and continue simmer for 1 hour.
Prepare the ingredients
- Cut darky leafy vegetable into small pieces. Peel the root vegetable and melons and cut into thin slices.
- Remove the hard ends of mushrooms and break the large pieces into smaller ones.
- Open tofu, frozen balls and hot pot meat slices.
Prepare the dipping sauce
- Prepare all the seasonings for the dipping sauces. Finely chop green onion and coriander.
Assemble hot pot
- Place all the content from a hot pot soup base package in your serving pot. Add light chicken stock (around 2.5L to 4L ) made in previous step. Add 2-3 sections of long green onion and continue with your hot pot party.
Enjoy your hot pot party!