Chinese Hot Pot Cooking is a fun way to enjoy a meal together where everyone cooks his or her own food right at the table.
Chinese Hot Pot, also known as Chinese Steamboat or Chinese Fondue because of its similarity to the French counterpart, is prepared in a metal pot which is placed in the center of the table.
The pot is filled with simmering stock and all the ingredients are added and cooked in the broth.
Ingredients on a typical Hot Pot Recipe
- Thinly sliced meats, like chicken, beef or lamb. They need to be thinly sliced so they cook quickly. To make the task easier, you can partially freeze the meat and then slice it. You can marinate the meats if you wish, we normally add only a bit of salt, light soy sauce and a bit of oil.
- Your favorite seafoods. We like adding shrimp and crabs, they add a lot of flavor to the stock.
- Side dishes to accompany the meats like leafy vegetables, mushrooms, noodles, dumplings, tofu. Don't add too much of these at one time, otherwise it is difficult to keep the stock simmering.
- Dipping sauces, make your own mix with your choice of soy sauce, chili sauce, a few drops of sesame oil, Chinqiang vinegar, pepper, fresh cilantro, spring onions. You can also add other dipping sauces like hot mustard, sweet chili sauce, etc. so everyone can flavor their meats to their own taste.
- Stock or broth, this can be as bland or as spicy as you wish. We prefer a bland broth which will get its own flavor as the different ingredients are added, and the sauces provide the flavor to everyone's particular taste. Our broth is simple, we add a small piece of ginger to the boiling water and some chicken stock, you can add some won ton soup mix for a little more flavor.
Check out our Guide for Chinese Food Ingredients here, including Chinese vegetables, sauces, condiments, kinds of noodles, etc.
Cooking your Hot Pot
Traditionally, steamboats were heated with coal, but nowadays in most modern homes electric or gas hot pots have replaced the coal hot pot. We use an electric wok pot, some friends use a couple of fondue pots, others their Japanese Shabu Shabu pot, they all serve the purpose. With electric pots you must be careful with the cord, specially with kids around.
Once all ingredients are prepared and ready, they are all set raw on the table around the Hot Pot.
Ingredients are added slowly to keep the stock at a constant simmer. You can use chopsticks or small skimmers/strainers to cook the food.
The strainers are particularly useful for "fishing" your food back, remember to keep track of what you put in otherwise somebody might "steal" your food!
Hot Pot is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, add food slowly and be careful not to overcook it. Experiment with different sauces and ingredients.
Because of the "slow pace" of the whole meal, if kids start getting too impatient, add some noodles which can be pre-cooked and can be ready in seconds.
Hot Pot is enjoyed generally in the winter months, and is often prepared for Chinese New Year. It is a fun way to share a meal together, but let me emphasize one more time, extra care must be exercised when kids are participating, the hot pot and the contents are very hot!
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