Written by Heidi Wright a food blogger at www.recipesmadenew.com:
I like hosting hot pot for dinner at home. It’s great for any time you want to gather with others and create a warm, energetic, and communal atmosphere. Chinese Hot Pot is perfect for an intimate date night or a large family gathering-it’s just that flexible! Putting out a hot pot brings everyone together, but it takes the pressure off of you to cook. You just need a heated pot with broth, and then your favorite ingredients to cook inside!
I love it especially for big gathering days (like Christmas or New Year’s type holidays). On big holidays I tend to spend the morning cooking and baking, and by lunchtime I am hungry, but it’s not time for dinner yet! Below is my recipe for the most basic hot pot base, and you can add whatever ingredients you like to make it your own!
Sometimes I will use a divided hot pot so that one side can be spicy broth that I like.
My favorite base broth is beef, however, my friend swears that pork makes the best broth. Thinly sliced beef, shrimp, bok choy, mushrooms, and rice noodles is my preferred combination of ingredients. The kids like shrimp, broccoli, baby potatoes, and steak. Others in my family like each pot to be themed and separated- seafood, meat, vegetarian, or spicy.
The great thing about hot pot is it gets more flavorful the longer you stay at the table adding and cooking and fishing your favorite ingredients out. It’s definitely a warming, fun activity to do together for a special dinner night or holiday. If you’re looking for an idea for dinner party or a date night in – try hot pot!
The Basics of Chinese Hot Pot:
- The pot and heat source: You’ll need a pot that can be set on the table and kept hot. In the past, I have used any of the following with success: a portable butane burner, a hot plate burner, an electric pot by Cuisinart with a heat setting dial, a fondue pot, and a portable stove (while we were outside camping-remember only to use safe indoor heat sources when you are inside). I really like the divided pots (look up Shabu Shabu or Hot Pot while searching and you’ll find them). If we have more than five people we usually do two pots-one for each end of the table.
- Utensils: We have used wood skewers, metal skewers, fondue skewers, spoons, mini tongs, small strainers, chopsticks… whatever we had on hand to make our hot pot dreams come true. Keep in mind it’s a communal pot, so color coding your wooden skewers or using the color coded fondue sticks can help you find your shrimp when it is cooked – or you can use the “dump it in” strategy and fish out your desired ingredients with tongs or a filter basket. Just keep an eye on your treasured ingredients so you know where to get them out later when they are cooked.
- Bowls: Shallow serving bowls for your cooked food and broth, and smaller bowls for sauces and dips to add in.
Ingredients For Chinese Hot Pot:
- The Broth: A basic hot pot will have a flavorful, delicious broth as its base. If I am using beef or chicken as my main protein, I will make a rich beef, pork or chicken broth. I prefer homemade broth, but you can use store bought stock in the container! If I have a lot of seafood ingredients, I will use seafood broth. If I am going vegan/vegetarian, I will make a vegetable stock. You can also use hot pot bases (they come in a packet) that are pre-made. You can find these at most Asian food stores or online. For the second pot, I usually make a spicy broth with peppers or curry and a little coconut milk. Most hot pots need at least 8 cups of broth to fill them up. I also keep more hot broth or hot water on the table to refill the pot throughout the evening.
- Ingredients to Cook: I use at least one protein item, vegetable item, and starch item for a two-person hot pot. For four or more people, I like to have three protein options minimum, four veggies, and at least two starches available.
Here are some of my favorite ingredients to get your ideas flowing:
- Thinly sliced beef
- Steak pieces
- Thinly sliced pork
- Thinly sliced lamb
- Pork belly
- Chicken breast
- Fish balls
- Fish (halibut, salmon, trout, bass)
- Mushrooms (shiitake, button, portobello, enoki)
- Hard winter squash
- Hearty greens (bok choy, cabbage, kale)
- Baby corn
- Bell Peppers
- Chili Peppers
- Noodles (rice, ramen, vermicelli, yam)
- Chili oil
- Egg yolk
- Hot pepper
Chinese Hot Pot Etiquette:
- Remember it is a shared, communal pot! Don’t put your utensil that you’re using to cook your food into your mouth or let it touch your fork, spoon or chopstick you’ve put your spit on. Keep it clean for others!
- Don’t steal your friend’s shrimp they have been cooking and waiting on. 😉
- If you have a double broth pot, don’t cross the broths and mix them up. Keep them separate – someone at the table might not want spicy broth in the plain beef broth side.
If you are the hot pot dinner host, here are some ideas to keep the setup accessible for all:
- Ask your guests if they have any allergies to make sure you do not include those ingredients, since it is a communal pot.
- Make sure the pot is accessible to everyone around the table. Also, if you have more than 4-5 guests, you may want to set up two pots at each side of the table.
- Place each ingredient on separate plates/bowls. Do not cross-contaminate uncooked ingredients – keep it safe and clean for your guests.
- Save yourself on prep time – It’s okay to use frozen ingredients straight from the freezer, because they will cook in the hot pot!
- Lastly, set up the rules for hot pot participation for your guests ahead of time so they know – do you care about chopstick washing in between dips? You would rather they use skewers in the pot or baskets to fish out their food? Just set clear expectations so people can relax and enjoy the time.
There are many ways to build a delicious hot pot together with friends and family. Enjoy the time hosting this fun way to connect with others and build relationships over food!