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Chinese hot pot!

I just wanted to share these photos of the Chinese hot pot dinner I just had with a bunch of chowhound friends. Growing up, my family had hot pot on Christmas day, without fail. Since leaving home, my only hot pot fix was going back to my mom's place in Chicago. I don't know why it's taken me so many years to have hot pot at my own home, but this was the year. So I went out and bought the biggest electric skillet I could find and invited my chowbuds. Everyone brought an ingredient (or two or three!) and I supplied the pork broth (made from 5 pounds of pork bones, some green onions and a bit of ginger), sauces and other condiments. And being hounds, of course, my friends source some fantastic stuff from local butchers and markets.

We had:

- two types of pork loin (Berkshire and Tamworth?)
- sirloin steak
- ribeye steak
- organic shrimp
- "regular" shrimp
- fried tofu
- kamaboku

- gai lan
- baby bok choi
- napa cabbage
- green onions
- king oyster mushrooms
- enoki mushrooms
- some other, unidentified asian mushroom

- my mom's hot pot sauce (Chinese BBQ - sa cha jiang - mixed soy sauce and sugar)
- a Taiwanese spicy hot pot sauce from a jar
- Chinese mustard sauce
- a basic soy/black vinegar/sesame oil/honey mix

Add ons (mostly for the soup at the end of the meal):
- minced garlic
- minced ginger
- chopped chiles
- chopped scallions
- raw eggs

To drink, we had 3 different types of sake. The junmai was the clear winner with the meal itself, while the daiginjo was perfect for after-dinner sipping. It was such an easy and fun dinner and was perfect on a snowy night in Toronto. I can't recommend sharing this type of meal enough -- warms the body and soul!

Oops, sorry for the sideways images. I have no idea how to rotate them on Chowhound.

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  1. Oh my, what a beautiful table! You know, hot pot has been on my to-do list for years and I still haven't done it. I'm saving your post and gorgeous pictures to serve as inspiration.
    We love fondue and raclette meals so I know what you mean about the shared experience being rich.
    I feel a craving coming on... :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Nicolette S

      Oddly enough, I had a raclette dinner at friends' house two nights later. I think there is something about winter that makes us gravitate towards these shared meals. Soooo nice!

    2. TJ... do you happen to know of a good resource for Hot Pot recipes? I gave my brother 4 dinners around the world for his Christmas present, and next weekend is Chinese, and I'm thinking Hot Pot would be fun and different. I've never had it before, so I would need recipes for the broth, and some of the sauces too. Your post is a great starting point for me! Would scallion pancakes be good dipped in the broth too, do you think?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Katie Nell

        I don't know of any web sites, sorry! But for the broth, I did a pork broth, which couldn't be simpler:

        5 - 6 pounds of pork bones
        small piece of ginger
        whites from a bunch of green onions

        Cover with water. Simmer gently, skim the scum.

        I don't think scallion pancakes would be work very well, as they are meant to be fried and crispy. Boiled pancakes don't sound very appealing. Though they would be a nice side dish!

        Nice gift, by the way!

        1. re: Katie Nell


          My hot pot recipe is even easier, I combine boxed chicken stock and water in a large pot on the stove. I add big crushed pieces of ginger, scallions and garlic and I let that simmer to let the flavors infuse the stock. Once this happens, I add chopped up napa cabbage and let that briefly simmer to get the whole thing started. Napa always takes a bit longer to cook and this way people can start eating it as they wait for the water to reboil in the electric skillet. I also keep this stock simmering on the stove so I can then refill the skillet with it. If you don't do this, be sure to have boiling water ready to refill the skillet. The worst is waiting for water to boil (my personal nemesis).

          My dishes are also simpler:

          Beef (thinly sliced that I buy pre-sliced from a Japanese grocery store)
          little neck clams
          fish pieces
          assorted mushrooms
          assorted chinese greens, usually tong hua and watercress
          rice vermicelli (pre-soaked so it doesn't soak up all the broth)
          shandong noodles

          To go in my sauce, I usually have an assortment of:

          soy sauce
          sesame oil
          chinese bbq (sa cha)
          hot oil or salted chiles or other hot sauces

          fresh raw eggs (one egg goes into each sauce. It prevents the eater from burning his/her tongue)

          chopped up scallions/garlic
          sesame paste (thinned)

          Some people also have white rice but that's overkill for me.

          1. re: beetlebug

            Thanks for your take on it beetlebug! I'm a little nervous about it just because I've never had Hot Pot, but I was starting to get overwhelmed with the idea of cooking multiple Chinese dishes and having them ready at the same time, as I'm not a fast cook. This seems more manageable to me, as it just seems like a lot of chopping!

            1. re: Katie Nell

              Katie Nell -- don't feel overwhelmed! There actually aren't many dinners that are much easier than a hot pot dinner. There is actually no "cooking" involved at all. It's literally a pot of hot broth and plates of raw ingredients. You can make the broth as far in advance as you'd like and freeze it. All the meats, veggies and sauces can be prepped in advance. The meats can easily be done the day before, or even better, if you have a good Asian grocery store near you, you can often buy meats pre-sliced for hot pot. Most veggies can also be washed and cut the day before and just stored in big zip lock bags. And note that veggies don't even need to be chopped fine -- in fact, big is better because you don't want to lose them in the broth. The sauces can be made last minute or a couple of days in advance and stored in containers.

              All the "cooking" is done by your guests sitting around the table, picking their ingredients and putting them into the hot pot of broth.

              I hope that helps put your mind at ease!

        2. Great pics. This reminded me of a friend's experience at a local Chinese restaurant; she'd never had a hot pot, so she asked the server (who spoke minimal English) what it was. The server's response: "Pot. Keeps food hot."

          1. We had hot pot the other week at my friend's house (she's from Singapore and is Chinese-Malaysian). It was fantastic. She made a spicy Sichuan broth. She also put frozen dumplings in there, along with the meat/prawns/tofu/mushrooms/'veggies etc, which worked well. And at the end we had bean thread noodles soaked then cooked in the broth, which had absorbed all the various flavours by then. Scrumptious.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greedygirl

              I grew up eating Sichuan style hot pot on average more than a dozen times a year. The broth used in Sichuan hotpot is a huge pot of chili oil mixed with various kind of dry herbs and spices.

              I've cut down a lot ever since I moved to the States but I still crave for it lot throughout the year. Just thinking of it is making me drool :)

              Here are some pic I took from earlier this year. I made half spicy and half clear both. The dipping sauces minced garlic with sesame oil and my special peanut sesame sauce.

            2. Fabulous spread, TorontoJo! Looks delicious. Thanks for sharing. :)

              1. Now that is an impressive hot pot spread, worthy of the emperor of China himself! We used to do these dinners a lot in my family and this post is going to make me dust off the electric skillet. To your impressive list of ingredients I can only suggest adding bai luo buo, literally ‘white carrot’ although I don’t know the English name for it. It’s a kind of oblong turnip that can cook in the pot for the entire length of the meal, and soaks up all the soup flavours by the time it gets tender.

                2 Replies
                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                  I agree I also like to add turnip or radish at the end to finish up the broth.

                  1. re: RealMenJulienne

                    Thanks for that recommendation, I've never tried that, but will the next time. The soup at the end is my favorite part of having hot pot!

                  2. Might be trying this out this coming weekend. If I want to make my own pork broth, like you did, any specific tips?

                    Also, am thinking of making a second broth that's a Vietnamese style w/ lemongrass, probably somewhat like this: http://www.theravenouscouple.com/2013... Has anyone made something like this before? Or any other lemongrass/SE Asian broth?

                    We'll have multiple pots going I believe, so doing 2 different styles won't be a problem as long as at least some of the items we add in are the same.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Dave MP

                      It's hot pot season!

                      For the pork broth, I prefer to keep it really simple, as the broth ends up taking on all the wonderful flavors of the ingredients you cook it in, resulting in the most delicious soup at the end of dinner.

                      If you want a really clear broth, you can do a par boil of the bones, then dump out the scummy water. Refill with fresh water, add the whites from a bunch of green onions and a chunk of peeled ginger. If you aren't as concerned about clear broth, just skim the scum.

                      And don't underestimate the importance of the sauce(s). Good sauce makes or breaks hot pot. My standard is Chinese/Taiwanese BBQ sauce (sa cha jian) mixed with some soy sauce.

                      Enjoy your hot pot dinner!

                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        What an amazing spread you have there! We did hotpot earlier this week as well, but it was nowhere as scrumptious and seeing yours makes me want to do it all over again.

                        For the specialty meats, did you slice them by hand, or is it a matter of finding a butcher who can do it for you? I know it can be done when the meat is in a half-frozen state, but I never seem to have the patience or technique to do it properly, and so usually end up limited to the pre-sliced packages at the store... or pieces that range in all kinds of thickness.

                        Also, my favourite hotpot dipping sauce is Sa Cha Jian mixed with soy sauce too! However, after having the fortune of trying this brand from Taiwan (which I finished off recently), nothing else can really compare. Unfortunately, I cannot find it locally. Page is in Chinese but it has an impressive ingredient list that also says it does not contain preservatives nor MSG:


                        1. re: vil

                          In the photos above, the meat is from my chowfriends -- they sliced it themselves, I believe.

                          However, we're fortunate in Toronto to have some great Korean and Chinese grocery stores that have all sorts of meats pre-sliced. So when I'm feeling lazy, I can just pick up those. But otherwise, I do freeze steaks and such and slice them that way.

                          Thanks for the link to the BBQ sauce brand -- I'll have to look for that at the grocery store.

                          1. re: TorontoJo

                            Hi TorontoJo, please post where you can buy it in toronto. I don't recall seeing it in T&T.

                            1. re: smfan

                              Galleria has an awesome selection and is my first choice. T&T has a decent selection, too. Both are near the meat counter, but in a separate refrigerated case.

                              At the Galleria on York Mills, the sliced meats are usually in the refrigerated cases that run along the bottom of the meat counter. I think there's a case to the left of the meat counter, too (I'm blanking at the moment).

                              I used to go to the T&T at Steeles and Warden, and if you can picture yourself facing the meat counter, the sliced meats are usually in the case to the left as you move into the produce section.

                              1. re: TorontoJo

                                Thanks TorontoJo. Sorry I wasn't clear with my question. I meant the BBQ sauce when you find it in TO.

                                1. re: smfan

                                  Oops, sorry, smfan! I bought it at T&T, but couldn't tell you what aisle. Sorry. :o)

                      2. re: YiReservation

                        is chinese hot pot the same as Di Bin Lo?

                        1. re: cookinglisa

                          Yes, Di Bin Lo is Cantonese pronunication .

                      3. Thanks TorontoJo for the inspiration. Hot pot dinner happened yesterday and it was a big success.

                        In the morning, I made homemade stock. I roughly followed Fuchsia Dunlop's recipe from Land of Plenty, which used a combo of chicken bones and pork bones. To that I added some ginger (but not a lot), some scallions, and a bit of salt (but not much). So once my stock was made, we ended up doing two very different types of hot pots:

                        1) Chinese style. In a wok, I sauteed some chili bean paste w/ some sweeter bean paste, then added slices of ginger and rice wine, then added in the broth. I didn't use too much bean paste, so really we ended up with a only slightly more-salty/umami version of my original stock.

                        2) Vietnamese style Lau Mam. There's only 1 english recipe on the internet that I found, and we based it off of that, but made several adjustments. I'll probably post more about this elsewhere, since the process was quite different.

                        Anyway, thanks again for the tips!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Dave MP

                          Adding some pics. For the Chinese side of the hot pot, we used the following:

                          - Sliced meat (which we bought already sliced): pork belly, steak, shortrib
                          - Shrimp (whole)
                          - Gluten puffs
                          - Napa cabbage
                          - Pea pod stems
                          - Rice noodles (already cooked)
                          - Enoki mushroom
                          - Beef meatballs
                          - Scallions
                          - Firm tofu

                          For dipping sauces, we had sa-cha sauce, soy sauce, chili oil, sesame oil, and salt all on the table. One person also mixed in some peanut butter to his personalized dipping sauce.

                          It was a lot of fun.

                          You can see in the pics that the lau mam is on one side of each pot: it has the eggplant and okra in it.

                          1. re: Dave MP

                            Nice! Such a great way to eat and share with friends. I'd definitely love to hear more about the Vietnamese broth!

                            1. re: Dave MP

                              This looks fantastic, as does the OP's. Dave MP, where did you get your nifty pot and burner setup?

                              1. re: Splendid Spatula

                                I luckily have friends who own the hot pots and burners. I am pretty sure my friend bought his at Kamei Market, which is in the Inner Richmond in San Francisco.

                                It was nice to have the split pots, since we were able to put some of each broth at each end of the table.