If you search #hotpot in TikTok and Instagram you will come across an overwhelming amount of videos and photos of a traditional Chinese dish. In recent years the popularity of the Chinese hot pot is soaring and for all the right reasons. So, let’s go and explore everything about hotpot and some traditional Chinese hot pot recipes.
What is Hot Pot?
The name “Hot Pot” is pretty much self-explanatory. Chinese hot pot is a cooking style in which a simmering pot of soup/broth is placed in the middle. Various raw ingredients like meat, seafood, vegetables, tofu, noodles, and starches are prepared in thin slices or small pieces for quick cooking in the simmering soup. You can cook whatever you want in the soup and eat it with the dipping sauce of your choice. So, we can say hot pot is an interactive meal.
History of Chinese Hot Pot
The hotpot custom is thought to have originated with Mongol warriors and cavalry who camped outside and ate dinner together in a circle around a pot on the fire as a means to stay warm while eating more than 1000 years ago. However, some suggest that hotpot was originated by Chongqing boatmen looking for a simple and inexpensive way to prepare.
From Mongolia to China, Japan to Korea, hotpot has become a popular way of eating across Asia and beyond, with different areas and countries employing different ingredients and broths and developing their own hotpot styles.
The fundamental idea is that fresh ingredients are added to the pot and cooked at the table while the hot pot brew continues to boil. This fundamental principle has remained constant over time and is what we recognize as Chinese hot pot recipes simply.
Why is Hot Pot traditionally important?
Hot Pot has a very long and rich tradition rooted in China. It is believed to be dated back to 1900 years. Pots from the Han Dynasty (BC202-AD220) were discovered by Chinese archaeologists. And they believe this is the first hot pot prototype. North and South Korea, Indonesia, and Switzerland each have their distinct hot pot traditions.
Hot Pot is essentially a sign of eating equality and unity. In many Asian Traditions, the meal is always popular to eat together with family. This represents oneness and promotes the feeling of togetherness. A round table is preferable because it allows everyone to reach the center—the pot—at the same distance. And everyone can choose the ingredients they prefer and serve themselves. It’s also a very basic form of democracy. Because when individuals decide what to eat, they do so as a group, negotiating with one another. They also divide the hot pot into two or more sections, one spicy hot pot, and one non-spicy hot pot, to accommodate different people’s tastes.
Original Chinese Hot Pot Recipes
With the correct tools and materials, the Chinese hot pot is a magnificent community feast that is simple to cook. The beauty of hotpot is that it allows you to be creative. You can use any vegetables and meats you want, and you won’t have to make any compromises even if you’re serving a large group.
Essential Hot Pot Equipment
No matter which hot-pot setup you end up with, look for a pot that has a separator in the middle for accommodating two broths in one pot, to get the most broth mileage out of one burner.
Aside from that, you’ll only need a few essentials: chopsticks (separate sets for dipping in the communal pot and eating), little tongs, small strainers, spoons, shallow bowls for eating, and small bowls for dipping sauces.
Chinese Hot Pot Recipes: Ingredients for the soup Base
Lamb and beef are the greatest meats to add to the soup because they will give it a delicious flavor. Mushrooms, fish balls, crabs, and shrimp are other good options. Tofu and potatoes are also highly popular since they will absorb the flavors of the other ingredients and taste fantastic. Order some vegetables as well (Chinese cabbage, lettuce, bean sprouts, daikon, pumpkin, and so on). Below are some of the must-haves for the Chinese Hot Pot Soup Base that will enhance the taste and keep it authentic.
Tallow made from beef (aka beef dripping): This important component has two functions: It adds richness and aroma to the broth, and because it hardens at room temperature, it binds all of the other components together into a block for simple storage.
Chicken: You can use chicken for flavourful broth.
Sichuan pepper with dried chili pepper: They combine to generate the Mala flavor.
Star anise, cassia cinnamon, bay leaves, tsao-ko (Chinese black cardamom): They impart scent to the oil, just as they do in the production of Chinese chili oil.
Scallions, onion, coriander (cilantro), garlic, and ginger: They are aromatics. Without them, the broth won’t be as tasty.
Fermented black beans with Sichuan chili bean paste: These two fermented ingredients give the soup base distinct flavors.
Pork Belly: It is the source of strong umami and salty flavor.
Shaoxing rice wine & sugar: They are for balancing the flavor.
How to prepare the Chinese Hot pot soup base
1. Boil chickens/ Pork/ Lamb with chopped ginger in water. First, remove any froth that has formed on the surface.
2. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for another 1 and1/2–2 hours, or until the water has turned milky.
3. Pour the liquid into the pot that you are using to prepare the hot pot meal.
4. Now add chopped scallions, coriander, fermented black beans, garlic, and Sichuan chili bean paste to the pot. Add your aromatics and balance the flavor with sugar and Shaoxing rice if needed.
5. Turn your hot pot’s heat source on. You can start dipping ingredients into the soup after it begins to boil.
6. Finally, The broth will diminish in volume as the hot pot dinner develops. To replenish the supply, simply add more hot water.
Hot-Pot Ingredients for Dipping , Noodles, and More
There is a long list of ingredients that can go in a hot pot. Variety is important because you want a little bit of everything. Beef and seafood are two of the most popular things to cook in a hot pot. But you’ll want to balance them out with lighter ingredients like greens and other vegetables. Cooking these ingredients in the boiling soup base is just an eyeballing thing. Just be careful to put the things that take longer to cook before the foods can takes short time to cook. You can dip accordingly.
- Greens and Vegetables: Chinese Spanish, Lettuce, Cabbage, Carrots Potatoes, Mushroom, Tofu Corns, Tomatoes.
- Meats: Pork Belly/loins, Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Offal etc.
- Seafoods: Fish( Halibut, Salmon, Monkfish, Bass etc ), Shellfishes ( Shrimp, Lobsters, Crabs, Clamps, Oysters), Squid Fishcake, Homemade fish balls
- Noodles: Wide White Noodles, Glass Noodles, Rice Stick Noodles etc
Dipping Sauces For Chinese Hot Pot
Before you get into your steaming pot, don’t forget about the Hot Pot dipping sauces. When it comes to hotpot, the appropriate sauces are crucial… The problem is, there is no such thing as a “perfect” recipe; it all relies on your preferences! Three parts sesame sauce and one part chives are the main ingredients in one of the oldest hot pot sauce recipes. Of course, you may make your own sauce or use a conventional one as a basis and add chile, soy sauce, minced garlic, crushed chili peppers, cilantro, scallion, and other ingredients… It’s entirely up to you to decide.
If you choose a spicy soup, make sure the sauce isn’t too spicy as well, because you don’t want your mouth to catch fire once you remove your food from the pot and dip it in the sauce! There are numerous alternatives, just as there are with the broth. Meanwhile, Dipping Sauces can be usually personalized according to your tastes. For an easy hot pot sauce, drizzle sesame oil in soy sauce with a touch of chili flakes.
For a simple Creamy Garlic Sesame Sauce, mix sesame paste (1.5tbsp), Dashi Powder (1 tsp), 2 tbsp. boiling water, 2.5 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp, Minced Garlic, Peanuts Crushed, and Sesame Seeds and Cilantro and bam your tasty dipping sauce is ready.
How to eat a Chinese Hot Pot correctly?
Going to a hotpot place can be a lot of fun, but it can be also confusing for foreigners and first-timers. As already mentioned Hot Pot is all about sharing socializing. Usually, a hot pot night out might last hours. So, just be prepared for it. After the soup base is correctly prepared, you just have to dip the vegetables or meat and cook it to your liking. After that, Dip it in the sauce of your choice and let the flavors melt in your mouth. If you are not familiar with chopsticks, you should consider learning how to use them before your hot pot night out cause chopsticks are definitely one of the main characters while enjoying this dish.
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