Chinese hot pot is a traditional Chinese soup containing a variety of vegetables, meats and seafood simmering in a prepared soup base at the dining table. The soup base is prepared ahead of time along with fresh vegetables, meats, and seafoods, when the soup is at a boil you place your ingredients in the pot and let me them cook, when they are ready you take them out and eat along with your favorite dipping sauce. With this setup, the entire family can sit around the table to spend some quality time together. Did I mention the fact that I love hot pot because you could walk into the house in the fall or the dead winter, you can gather around the dinner table to thaw, enjoying the company of friends while cooking and eating delicious foods.
Believe me when I say this soup is really easy to prepare, all you need is a big pot of water and a pack of soup base. I like to cook the soup base in a separate pot for about an hour before the guests arrived. I also like to add extra Chinese dates as well as goji berry into the soup base. Bring everything to a boil and then let it simmer on low heat for at least an hour. When your guests arrive, just transfer the soup base into the hot pot and you are ready to start the hot pot dinner.
As for ingredients for the soup I like use a variety of fresh vegetables of whatever I can find at the asian supermarket, in addition to greens I like to add lotus root. After you wash and peel them, thinly sliced the lotus root. Lotus root is like a sponge, they absorb all of the flavorful goodness when you cook it with the rest of the ingredients in your hot pot. Of course do not forget your favorite noodles, we prefer glass noodles or udon. Just make sure when you’re preparing ingredients that you will be putting them into the soup base, so when you’re preparing your ingredients try not to cut them too small. The reason being, if you diced them up too small you will have a hard time sifting through the soup base to get your food. I take the same approach to meats and seafood and try to find items that are fresh and not frozen, except fishballs, which naturally come frozen. As for the sauce I like to use a combination of sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, and some people like to add diced garlic, or cilantro, but you can use anything you like to dip food in, I do have friends that even like to use a little peanut butter in their sauce to taste.
You can put anything, and everything you like into the soup base while you are having hot pot. I am not sure how many of you actually heard of fishballs, those little fishballs are my favorite aside from tofu. What can I say? I love my soy products. Fish balls is a very common food in where I came from, they are made from pureed fish meat and then shaped into a ball of goodness. If you haven’t tried it before you should definitely give it a try. Typically you can find them in an asian supermarket.
I figured this is not a complicated dish, I figured we didn’t have to put down all the steps in this post. Keep in mind this is not an everyday dish, we only do this when we have guests around, or when it’s cold.
I hope you guys would give it a try, and enjoy it as much as we do.
Until next time!