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 the 4 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. Firstly 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 long 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 thiner, wider pot. Then you need long chopsticks, hot pot scoop and strainer.
Hot Pot Soup Bases
The soup base is the coral part of making hot pot at home. If you do not have enough time, just purchase the packaged hot pot soup base. And generally there are two types of soup bases, spicy mala hot pot (also called 红汤 in Chinese ) and mild hot pot (清汤). But actually the soup base 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.
Hot Pot Ingredients
In theory, all ingredients can be cooked in hot pot but there are some famous 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 in seconds.
Meatballs (肉丸) including fish meatballs, beef meatballs, shrimp balls and pork balls, either freshly made or frozen one.
(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.
Seafood: shrimp, mussels, scallops, lobster, crabs, oysters, clams and abalone.
Mushrooms, all kinds of mushrooms can perform well in hot pot soup base.
Root vegetable (potato, lotus root) should be cut into thin slices.
Melons: cucumber, winter melon, pumpkin, tomatoes
Tofu and tofu balls (豆腐): soft tofu taste better than firm tofu. But both works fine.
bean vermicelli and other noodles: bean vermicelli, potato noodles, sweet potato noodles and fresh handmade noodles can work as staple food for a hot pot meal.
Green leafy vegetables (绿叶蔬菜): including bok choy, cabbage, choose seasonal leafy vegetables (2 to 3 types). I use cabbage and snow pea leaves this time. 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.
Hot Pot Dipping sauces
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
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)
If you need to serve a large party with enough people, you can prepare those
For daily homemade hot pot, you can make the dipping sauce directly.
The most two popular option is:
- 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
- This one is the ideal one for lamb or beef hot pot : Sesame sauce (2 tbsp. sesame paste +3 tbsp. warm water +1/2 tbsp. light soy sauce + 1 small pinch of salt ) + coriander or green onion +smashed garlic + toasted sesame seeds or toasted peanuts
- Cook a large pot of thin soup base | chicken stock, pork stock or other stock from leftover bones.
- Get a package of hot pot soup base (little shrimp, Hai Di Lao or Lee Kum Kee).
- Pour all the content of the hot pot soup base package and loaded with 2.5 to 3L stock prepared in step 1.
- Bring to a boiling. For mild hot pot, add tomato wedges, onions and bean sprouts (if using). Bring to a boiling and then start cooking your ingredients.