Home » How to Make Hot Pot At Home, From the Broths to the Add-Ins to the Condiments

How to Make Hot Pot At Home, From the Broths to the Add-Ins to the Condiments

by News Times USA

You cannot feel lukewarm about hot pot because hot pot does not feel lukewarm about you. Commonly found in East and Southeast Asian cooking, hot pot is centered around a vessel of roiling broth, into which diners plunk meats, seafood, vegetables, and starches. It’s a communal dining experience that calls for your attention and participation, as you throw handfuls of chrysanthemum greens or blocks of fish tofu into the broth. It demands that you be hospitable as beef slices reach peak medium-rare or thin rounds of potatoes soften to the perfect snappy texture—a signal for you to swiftly ferry them over to your fellow diners’ bowls. “Everyone is part of the journey with you,” says Eric Sze, the chef-owner of 886 and wenwen in New York City. “That’s why I love hot pot so much.”

When he was growing up in Taiwan, Sze was surrounded by many different types of hot pot restaurants. But he was stunned to find virtually none in his college town of Ithaca, New York. A homesick student, he decided to make it himself for his then-girlfriend (now wife) with whatever meats he could find in the nearest grocery store’s freezer section along with Napa cabbage, lettuce, enoki mushrooms, and vermicelli. Immediately, he was hooked and started ordering hot pot at restaurants wherever he traveled and perfecting his own game at home. If you’ve made hot pot once, he explains, it becomes something you know and from there you can riff. “Every time, I pick up new things, like I’m going to try adding taro, or beef top blade instead of just short rib,” Sze explains.

That’s the beauty of hot pot: It’s choose-your-own adventure once you’ve learned the basics. And if you haven’t? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to our hot pot primer. Taking our lead from Sze, we’re sharing broths that’ll be the foundation of your meal, the perfect variety (and prep) of fixings to dip into those broths, gear that guarantees the smoothest hot pot experience, and our very chill rules to turning all these elements into the dynamic, delicious feast we love. By the end of it, you won’t be lukewarm—you’ll be a hot pot obsessive.

  1. The Gear
  2. The Broth
  3. The Ingredients
  4. The Technique
  5. The Condiments

1. Get Your Gear In Order

Before you begin laying out your aesthetically pleasing hot pot spread, you need the right equipment. There is only one piece of gear we’d say is a must-buy for hot pot. The rest of our recommendations are purely optional, though we’re sharing them here because they’ve made our hot-pot-making lives easier and we imagine they’ll do the same for you.

If you invest in only one piece of equipment, make it this—the experience of hot pot is all about cooking whatever you want at the table, as you eat. You will typically come across two types of hot pot burners: butane and electric. Sze is team electric. “Electric cooks more evenly, plus you won’t run out of electricity like butane,” Sze says. I love this Cuisinart Cast-Iron Single Burner, which is quick to heat up, pretty powerful, and easy to clean.

Cuisinart Cast-Iron Single Burner

The reason for this is simple: “You can have two broths at once, buddy! It makes life more exciting,” says Sze. Assistant food editor Jessie YuChen, who worked on this story, highly recommends this stainless steel pot. It has a clear lid, so you can easily see when the broths are boiling and ready for ingredients. In a pinch, use whatever short-sided stock pot or Dutch oven you have.

Stainless Steel Divided Hot Pot

Along with being just so darn adorable, this nifty tool is great for keeping track of the ingredients you’re cooking. Sze uses it like a fishing net. “You can put your meat or manila clam in the skimmer and take it out once you see it’s at the temp you want it at,” he says. No skimmer? Just use chopsticks.

Brass Spider Skimmer and Strainer

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2. Let’s Make Some Broths

Broths are the building blocks of your hot pot,” Sze says. He’s shared two recipes—a Mala Beef Broth inspired by Taiwanese beef noodle soup and an Herbal Mushroom Broth—meant to be served side by side in a divided pot for two different but complementary experiences. “You want a spicy broth, verging on too spicy, that you can’t stop eating, and another that is milder and refreshing for a little break,” he explains. “You switch between the two, and that makes your palate dance.” Ideally, you’d make both broths, but you’re still good if you go with just one.

Hot pot filled with herbal mushroom broth

Umami-rich and flavorful all on its own, this vegan hot pot base is also a welcome palate cleanser when served alongside a spicy broth.

View Recipe

Hot pot filled with beef broth and chilis

This fiery red broth is a labor of love, but it’s worth it—your hot pot spread depends on a rich, flavorful base.

View Recipe

All that said, hot pot is what you want it to be, so there is zero judgment if you don’t have the time or energy to make your own broth. These store-bought broth bases come either in powder or sauce form, but either way, you add them to water or stock and bring to a simmer. Here are the ones we reach for in a pinch.

If nose-clearing, tongue-tingling spice is your thing, this Sichuan-peppercorn-infused broth is for you. “It’s really pepper-centric and you can taste the quality of the red chile peppers,” Sze says.

“It tastes like Chinese medicine, herbal and clean,” Sze explains. Which, for the record, is a high compliment.

Haidilao Hot Pot Soup Base

My personal recommendation, this makes a ridiculously umami-rich broth that’s great with a veg-forward hot pot spread; it imbues Napa cabbage and ‘shrooms with a savory-sweet flavor.

Little Sheep Hot Pot Soup Base Mushroom Flavor

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3. Now, The Fun Stuff: The Spread

The key to hot pot lies in the variety of your spread. You want a rich and salty moment to linger on your tastebuds, a fatty and chewy moment for body, a fresh and crunchy moment to reset your palate, and a starchy moment to bring it all together and finish out the meal. The way Sze ensures his hot pot hits all those notes is by following a seemingly strict but actually quite flexible categorization of inclusions: protein, seafood, leafy veg, hardy veg, mushrooms, accessories (more on those later!), and starch.

This is a lot of ingredients, so a word of advice: “Pick one ingredient from each category,” Sze says. “Hot pot is a really simple way to just eat whatever the hell you want and tailor it to your needs.” Since all of the ingredients start out raw, you can easily repurpose leftovers into other dishes the next day.

Here, he breaks down each category, along with his tips for prepping and cooking.

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