Chinese hot pot, literally lit ‘fire pot‘ from the Chinese word 火锅 huǒguō, consists in a broth kept at a gentle boiling temperature into which diners add raw ingredients as the meal progresses.
Once cooked, the food is soaked in various sauces, such as soy sauce with pepper.
Every time Chinese hot pot is a new experience, with unique aromas and flavors but always having an air of family, accompanied by the joy of sharing a joyful moment.
In China, the conviviality of this dish is also a way to strengthen bonds with friends and colleagues.
This dish is particularly appreciated during the winter months, but it is also consumed all year round even in tropical regions such as Taiwan.
Actually, it is better to talk about Hot pots, in the plural form, because there are many different types, which differ from North to South and from province to province. From the Beijing Style Lamb Hot Pot (北京羊肉涮锅) to the Sichuan and Chongqing Spicy Hot Pot (重庆麻辣火锅). Also, every family has its preferences. Ours is no exception.
How do you eat Chinese Hot Pot?
After having prepared – washed, cut, and arranged on the serving plates – all the foods, the electric pot is turned on and the broth is put in it. Add the leafy greens, and gradually all the other ingredients. Once at the table, each diner adds what they want to eat, using hot pot baskets to put in what they want. One eats happily while supervising the food cooking, dip in the sauces, and tasting the flavor. The more the broth simmers, the more delicious it is!
Le bouillon 🥣
The secret of a successful Chinese fondue is very fresh food and a good broth.
The basic broth is made with water, salt, and spices.
Otherwise, the broth is made with pork or chicken bones. The spices give the character of the soup, like Sichuan Spicy broth, loaded with Sichuan dried chilies and peppercorns.
You can also make a vegetarian version.
For the broth, you need:
- Pork bones (of course, you don’t need them for the vegetarian version)
- Herbs and Spices
For more flavor, you can add vegetables such as cabbage, turnip, leek, onion, carrot and dried mushrooms.
The broth is prepared 1-2 hours in advance. During this time, prepare vegetables, meat and seafood.
For the hot-pot you need:
Leafy vegetables like spinach leaves, watercress, spinach, lettuce, Crown daisy, Napa cabbage, and Bok choy.
Other vegetables: mushrooms cut in two or four, squash cut in cubes or thin slices, sweet potato cut in cubes or thin slices, potato cut in cubes or thin slices, carrots, baby corn, daikon, bean sprout.
Meat : chicken, beef, fishballs, meatballs
- Seafood like shrimps
- Tofu skin
- Firm tofucut into thick slices
- Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus, shiitakés 香菇, pleurotes, enoki 金针菇, …)
- Mung bean noodles
Choose vegetables in season. You can adapt this list to what grows where you live or not far. As always, the nearest, the better.
The sauces to accompany the food are arranged on the table in small bowls, one for each diner. Light soy sauce. The most used are:
- Rice vinegar and chili pepper
- Soya sauce
How to make hot-pot
- Prepare the basic stock about two hours in advance. Add the vegetables for the broth and simmer over low heat.
- Put the broth into the hotpot.
- Wash the other vegetables.
- Cut meat into thin slices.
- Arrange all the raw ingredients and noodles in plates to be shared at the table as well as the sauces.
And that’s it!
Once at the table
Once everything is ready, put the basic broth into the pot at the table and start adding the row ingredients. The broth gets richer in flavors as it cooks, so take you time because the best is at the end!
慢慢吃Màn man chī Enjoy your meal!