How to make a simple Chinese hot pot: Forget about getting a Chinese takeaway, have a Chinese hot pot night with friends and family.
Recently I have been using Airbnb for accommodation when working in Auckland, simply because I am only in Auckland for one week per month. Financially it makes no sense to rent a room out for a whole month if I am only there for a week at a time. During my time staying at people’s houses, I have come across some fun and interesting people. So much so, that I thought I should write a blog post based on one of my stays.
Once upon a time…… haha only joking. So let me give you some background information, I was staying at a young Chinese couple home for a little over a week. They noticed that my Airbnb profile picture was of me in China in front of the terracotta army and so we instantly had some familiar topics we could talk about. During our conversations, I mentioned how I was surprised how fresh and simple but incredibly tasty traditional Chinese food is. As I assumed the food would be oily and greasy like take away meals often are. During the discussion, I told them that my absolute favourite meal was the Sichuan hot pot ummmmmmmmm……drooling at the thought of it and let me say it led to a whole discussion in itself. What kind of hot pot one likes and what ingredients you like to add, almost like talking about your favourite wine or beer.
For you that do not know what a hot pot is, it is a broth that is kept simmering in the middle of the table in a pan. You dip your ingredients in it and wait for it to cook at the table whilst conversing at the dinner table. One could say it is the Chinese version of a fondue and if anything it is actually a bit more fun. How much spice can one handle and how much can you eat?. Hotpot in Chinese is called huǒ guō (fire pot) or dǎ biān lú (fight the furnace) and is often eaten during the colder months as it really does warm you inside, even more than soup does.
Hosting a hot pot dinner is very simple and if you are having friends or family over and cooking is not an option, due to time or simply cooking skills, I would definitely recommend trying this one night. Not only would it be something new and different, it tastes ammmmmaaaaaaazing!!!!.
So what do you need? well not much really.
- A pot/pan and electric hot plate/burner you can use on the table. There are pans called yin-yang pot which allow for two sauces to be boiling at the same time. So you can have one spicy and one none spicy etc.
- Spoon or ladle to scoop out ingredients from the pot
- Shallow bowls
- Hotpot soup base – you can buy these from any good Asian food store. If not any broth will work, so you can use chicken stock and throw in a bit of ginger and carrots. Or you can actually make your own soup base.
Items you can add to the hot pot can include anything. Below are some examples, it is nice to have a mixture so you are not just eating meat or vegetables.
Meat – thinly sliced so it will cook quickly and easily e.g. beef, pork, lamb, chicken
Vegetables – carrots, tomatoes, daikon, mushrooms, spinach
Seafood – fish balls ( these are my favourite and are found in the frozen section),
salmon, king prawns, squid
Tofu – regular, firm, pressed
Noodles – Udon, rice
- Soy sauce – I like to use this with finely chopped red chilli as if the hot pot was not hot enough.
- Sesame oil
- Chilli oil
- Sacha sauce
- Chinese black vinegar or rice vinegar
Anything you feel like using as a dip 🙂
Now getting to the hard part……if you can call it hard, making the hot pot:
- Boil water in a pan just under halfway.
- Once boiled add the hot pot sauce paste.
- Add any vegetables in the pan you want to add to contribute to the taste for the soup
- Bring all the ingredients you want to dip into the soup base onto the table, laying everything out. Ready for when the pièce de résistance is ready.
5. Once everything is boiling, transfer the pan onto the electric hot plate in the middle of the dining table. This ensures the content is constantly boiling and ensures the soup is always hot.
6. Now start slowly adding your extra ingredients in and wait for it to cook, as you talk and sip over a glass of wine. On average a party of four can easily spend a good 3 hours having hot pot, with taking a break every so often.
Thank you, Elva and David, for being such great hosts and bringing back happy memories.
Look at all the happy faces :).
p.s. the yin-yang pot is shown in the picture above.