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Shabu-shabu/hot pot… teach me!

Proper etiquette seems pretty obvious to me (don’t stick your own chopsticks into the communal pot, don’t dip your food into the communal dipping bowl)
If there are any more faux-pas that I should know of, please tell me.

Is there a ‘proper order’ to put your food into the pot?
Like if you have your choice of shrimp, clams, fish cake, tofu and sliced beef as your proteins, is it proper to start with one over another?
What goes best into the pot/What’s a good combo to put in at one time?
Do you use a spoon to drink the broth from your bowl?
Should you wait till the very end to drink the broth?
Dipping sauces – tell me about them

Thanks for the help! (I think the hot-pot is my new favorite way to eat, I just want to make sure that I’m “doing it right”)

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  1. You have the basics right, re: double-dipping w/ sticks. I don't believe there is a correct order for dipping, but I do know that the broth is drunk at the end, when it's been enriched by the flavors from the dippage. :) And many times, the host has mixed a few beaten, raw eggs and a bit of rice into the broth at the end, to enrich it.

    1. My favorite way to end is to dump a bunch of rice into the pot and let it absorb almost all of the broth. The result is similar to risotto, and very flavorful.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pikawicca

        I am just jumping in here and hope this isn't discussed elsewhere (if so, I apologize). How much is your bunch of rice? Is it long, short or medium grain? And how much broth is there? It speaks to me (and makes me drool!) to think of doing this.

        More, more, more info, please?? :)

      2. The only order I follow is to put in the things that take longer to cook first.

        I wait until the end to drink the broth and sip it out of my bowl.

        1. There is no etiquette or rules, with the possible exceptions you've already noted (re: chopsticks and communal bowl) but even those exceptions may not hold if I'm having hot pot with family members.

          1. We have separate chopsticks for dropping raw foods into the pot and personal chopsticks for eating. Usually use the cheap takeout chopsticks for the raw foods.

            Each person also has a smaller wire fishing basket to rescue the cooked foods as pictured on this blog:

            http://www.undercovergourmet.ca/2011/...

            As for dipping sauces, you can mix:

            1) soya sauce and minced or sliced chillies. Add some fried garlic oil and garlic bits to enhance flavour.
            2) Thinned down hoisin sauce with some chopped garlic
            3) Sambal chilli sauce (slow sauteed onions, garlic, ginger and chillies with some fremented shimp paste). Can be purchased from grocery stores- look out for SingLong brand or something from Malaysia or Singapore. No, sambal oelek is not the same thing since it is not cooked.
            4 )Google Jaden Hair's Steamy Kitchen Blog and follow the recipe to make the Chilli garlic sauce for the Hainanese Chicken rice.
            5) Thinned down oyster sauce.
            6) Chilli oil
            7) Processed green onion, ginger and oil a la David Chang

            Any sort of dipping sauce works, really. The meats coming out of the hotpot is delicate and somewhat bland so use what you like to flavour it up.

            Our family tends to have personal sipping sauces as we are a bit paranoid.

            We have blanched egg noodles to eat wth the soup at the end of the meal. or soaked beanthread vermicelli.

            There is always a kettle of just boiled water on the side to top up the hot pot.

            1. Every family does it differently. Here's what mine does:

              Is there a ‘proper order’ to put your food into the pot? No.

              Like if you have your choice of shrimp, clams, fish cake, tofu and sliced beef as your proteins, is it proper to start with one over another? No, other than making sure long-cooking foods (white carrot, napa cabbage, etc) go in before quick-cooking foods (thin sliced meat, romaine lettuce etc).

              What goes best into the pot/What’s a good combo to put in at one time? Whatever you want. We do an even split of meat/veg/seafood every time we refill the pot, timed so it all gets done at once.

              Do you use a spoon to drink the broth from your bowl? Yes, at the end of the meal. Rice vermicelli is good for soaking up the flavorful broth at the very end.

              Should you wait till the very end to drink the broth? It tastes better at the end since everything's been cooking in it.

              Dipping sauces – tell me about them. 1) Sha Cha Jiang,also called Taiwanese BBQ sauce. This is a thick, grainy paste with a very savory flavor and somewhat fishy smell, mixed with a little broth in your own bowl. If you like anchovies and sardines, you may like sha cha jiang. 2) Sesame paste thinned out with hot water and a dash of soy sauce 3) Soy sauce with sesame oil, chopped scallions and sesame seeds.

              I have a tip for you: freeze, thaw and squeeze the water from your soft tofu before cooking in hot pot. This changes the texture to become much more sponge-like, which soaks up more broth and stands up better to long cooking.

              1. great advice so far, thanks all so much!

                we were out to grab a bite to eat at a sushi buffet last night and they had hotpot, so it was my first time
                hubs said "you should grab some of that sashimi and poach that"
                I think they'd frown on that though
                had a lovely experience, but I think it'd be fun to do at home too

                1. If you don't have an extra set of chopsticks handy, it's ok to turn the chopsticks around use the back end for the communal pot.

                  The biggest pet peeve of mine is impatience. The pot comes out and before the soup even comes to a boil everybody is dumping stuff into it, especially the frozen stuff. As a result, it takes even longer to reach a boil and start cooking and hence, eating. Just be patient and wait until the soup comes to a rolling boil. At that point everything cooks faster and you actually eat sooner. The pot will also recover faster when putting in frozen or really cold things like fish balls, tofu, or even dumplings.

                  1. In Japan, some people leave the broth and at the end, when all the meat, seafood and vegetables have been eaten, they dump a few small bowls of rice into the hot broth (sometimes with a few raw eggs) and eat it sort of like Chinese jook. Others throw in a few packets of udon noodles. The idea is to try what seems good to you.