What is Hot Pot?
Hot pot is a simple term that doesn’t do justice to this glorious winter meal that is eaten all over Asia. The concept of hot pot is straightforward. You have a pot of simmering flavorful broth in the center of the table, and you have separate plates of raw meat and vegetables that you place into the broth and cook until tender. Hot pot goes back at least 1000 years to Mongolian horsemen who brought the dish with them as they traveled to northern China. The Mongols were on to something, because hot pot has something for everyone, from meat lovers to seafood lovers to vegetarians. And hot pot is the perfect dish to warm you up on frigid evenings.
Chinese hot pot is called huŏ guō. The northern version, also called Beijing hot pot, usually contains mutton and has a mild broth. To the south, Sichuan hot pot has a richer, spicier broth made with garlic and numbing chili peppers. In Japan, hot pot is nabe mono (pot things), and variations include shabu shabu, sukiyaki, and oden. In Korea, hot pot is referred to as jeongol, and sinseollo is a well-known variety involving meatballs and mushrooms. In fact, hot pot exists all throughout Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
How is Hot Pot Made?
Hot pot is the perfect winter meal, not only because it helps you beat the cold and brings the family together, but also because it is a super easy dish to make. The main preparation involves shopping and chopping. The key to hot pot starts with the soup stock. The broth varies in flavor to suit one’s taste, ranging from plain to spicy to sour. Next comes the choice in protein, which could be thin slices of lamb, beef, fish, seafood, or tofu. The vegetables and starches can be delicate cuts of cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, bean sprouts, potatoes, rice noodles, and many other possibilities. Dipping sauces are also part of the meal. Depending on the hot pot restaurant or style, the variations are endless.
What is a Simple Hot Pot Recipe?
An easy hot pot recipe is as follows:
In a large pot, make broth from a soup base and simmer it on medium low. A delicious ready-to-go one is Daisho Chanko Soy Sauce Nabe Hot Pot Soup Base. It has the familiar flavor of shoyu (soy sauce) with hints of bonito, mirin, seaweed, and chili pepper.
For sukiyaki, this broth is best: Daisho Sukiyaki Warishita Hot Pot Soup Base.
It has a deeper, bolder umami flavor than the Chanko one. Curry lovers will love the more complex flavors of Daisho Curry Nabe Soup Base.
Have ready your preferred vegetables that are thinly sliced or chopped into chunks of no more than one inch. Examples are bok choy or Napa cabbage, enoki or shiitake mushrooms, and pumpkin or kabocha. A nice addition is Menma Pickled Bamboo Shoots. They give a little crunchy tang to soups like hot pot. Place each ingredient on its own plate around the pot.
Prepare meat in a similar way. Examples are thinly sliced steak, lamb, pork shoulder, shrimp, or fish. You can also use frozen balls of beef, pork, fish, or seafood. And for vegetarians, Silken Tofu: Firm holds up well in your hot pot. Slice it about a quarter inch thick into cubes or rectangles.
Have rice noodles or any kind of thin vermicelli noodle ready to take the plunge into the broth. Tiger Rice Noodles work well in soups like hot pot.
Next, get your dipping sauce ready in your individual bowl. If you’re a mild teriyaki type, a bit of Morita Teriyaki Sauce will do the trick. It has a nice balance of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and pepper.
If you like a bit of sour citrus zing in your sauce, a splash of Kikkoman Ponzu Sauce is just what you should add to your sauce.
For you spice mavens, we recommend a few drops of La-Yu Chili Oil to add some spicy chili pepper heat to your dipping sauce.
A bit of high quality sesame oil, such as Kadoya Pure Sesame Oil, helps balance out the flavor in the dipping sauce.
You can also add a nutty crunch by sprinkling some of these J-Basket Roasted White Sesame Seeds in your dipping sauce bowl.
Now place your items of choice into the bubbling broth and let them cook thoroughly. Let the items in the pot cook for a minute before eating, especially if they’ve had contact with raw meat.
Before chomping down on the cooked morsels, dip them in your individually prepared dipping sauce.
Cook, dip, and repeat until you are sated and thoroughly warmed up.
Order groceries online today through Bokksu Market, and be well on your way to your soon-to-be new winter hot pot infatuation!
By Megan Taylor Stephens