There’s a popular saying in China, “everything can be solved by one hot pot; if not, it can be solved by two.” This speaks to the importance of this traditional dish in Chinese culture. Hot pot involves plates of ingredients and a simmering pot of broth, but what do you do with them? This guide will help novices know how to try this classic dish and provide pros some ideas to try.
What is hot pot?
Hot pot is a communal dining experience where everyone shares one pot of cooking broth and takes turns adding ingredients. The dish reflects a dining custom that dates back thousands of years in China where families and strangers alike eat together and socialize as they dine. According to a 2018 article in the South China Morning Post, hot pot’s origins aren’t clear, but it developed differently in different regions — from the spicy, numbing broth of Szechuan to the gentle, fragrant tastes from Jiangsu.
How to order hot pot?
To start, decide on a soup base and ingredients. Min Wang, the quality inspector of Taste Place on North Stadium Boulevard, says it is important to consider which ingredients will give your broth the flavor and spiciness you prefer. The broths are usually served with customers choosing the flavors they want; For instance, Taste Place offers over eight bases on its menu. The ingredients of hot pot are brought to the table raw. The selections include different meats, vegetables and noodles. Some classic ingredients include sliced meats, cabbage, mushrooms, rice noodles and potatoes.
At Taste Place, each ingredient comes to your table on a separate plate. Tao Tan, a Taste Place customer, says her favorite is a seafood combination of fish tofu and fish balls with a spicy fish-based broth. Her husband, Jon Zhang, says he chooses more vegetables for his hot pot.
Dipping sauce is the finishing touch. Sesame oil and sesame sauce are popular. The price of hot pot varies depending on your choice of broths and ingredients. For instance, on Seasoning 63’s menu, they serve different ingredient combinations and the price starts at $11.99.
How to cook and eat hot pot?
Now, it’s time to actually cook the dish. You add the ingredients to the boiling broth that sits on a warmer built into the table. Here is a little trick: Put cabbage, lettuce and spinach in last as they take less time to cook. Once your ingredients are cooked to your liking, take them out and dunk them in your dipping sauce.
A benefit of eating hot pot with others is socialization. It’s a perfect time to chat with friends and family. For Zhang and Tan, hot pot is their weekly tradition. “We like taking the time to enjoy it, whether it’s a holiday, family visiting or whatever,” Tan says. “It’s nice to sit down and enjoy a long meal."