Eating Chinese “Hot Pot” is when everyone cooks their own food in a large pot of boiling water that is heated from below and placed in the middle of the table. The pot has to be heated throughout the meal by flame or an electric burner to keep the temperature of the water at a boil. Since different foods require different cooking times and since everyone is putting new raw food in and taking cooked food out at all different times, it’s important to keep the water hot enough to kill any bacteria. As long as your water keeps boiling, you have nothing to worry about, so don’t let this scare you out of trying hot pot 🙂 Oh and don’t forget to keep two sets of utensils separate, one for handling raw food and one for removing and eating the cooked food. I Love eating hot pot! The water is often flavoured with a soup base (I prefer the spicy variations). Typically, you have a selection of thinly sliced raw meat (ie. beef, pork, lamb), raw seafood (ie. shrimp, fish balls, squid, mussels), vegetables (ie. mushrooms, daikon radish, lettuce, other chinese veggies), tofu, beef balls, etc. You can buy meat that has been sliced for the purpose of hot pot in asian grocery stores. You select what you want and then you cook it in the pot. The meats take seconds to cook since they’re sliced so thinly. When your food’s ready, you remove it from the boiling water and eat it with various dipping sauces. Dipping sauces differ widely from region to region in China and are often very flavourful to compliment the blandly cooked food. It is also common to add a whole raw egg to the dipping sauces. I love that but with rising concerns about bacteria in eggs, my family and I are a bit more hesitant to do it now. I haven’t had hot pot in a few years now so I’m not sure if restaurants still supply raw eggs for their dipping sauces.
How I “hot potted” at home: I haven’t been to a hot pot restaurant in a few years because all of the best places are in Markham, ON and I don’t get out there as often anymore. I don’t own any of the hot pot equipment, so it never occurred to me to try it at home until I got an idea from my sister. When I was visiting her one weekend, I noticed that she had thinly sliced beef in her freezer, so I asked her how she cooked it. When she said by hot pot, I got excited and asked her if she had acquired the equipment. She hadn’t. She smiled [embarrassed], and told me that she heated a pot of water on the stove and hot potted and ate standing over the stove, haha. She thought I was going to judge her, but my reply (after I finished laughing and calling her ghetto) was, “What a Great idea! I’m totally going to do that too!”. And so I did 🙂 The recipe below is a very simple and basic hot pot dipping sauce.
Hot Pot Dipping Sauce Recipe
makes enough for one person
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
Vietnamese chili garlic sauce to taste
a few drops of toasted sesame oil (brand Kadoya)
pinch of dehydrated garlic (or garlic powder or very finely minced fresh garlic)
pinch of chives, finely chopped
pinch of cilantro, finely chopped
large pinch of granulated white sugar
1 raw egg, optional (Warning: Raw eggs may contain bacteria that could result in foodborne illness.)
Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves. Adjust to taste. Serve with hot pot meat and seafood.