A Complete Guide To A Chinese Hot Pot


Chinese hot pot is a perfect meal if you have a big feast. It is a fun meal if you invite family and friends. However, for some people who are new to a hot pot might have no idea where should begin, especially when talking about the broth and the components.

In this article, we provide you a complete guide on how to make a Chinese hot pot soup base and choose the components to complement the dish.

So, What Is “Hot Pot?

In Chinese, hot pot is commonly called Huo Guo which means “fire pot”. The main component of a hot pot is the broth that is constantly simmered in a pot while surrounded by dipping items that later are cooked with the broth. Besides, it is also completed with dipping sauce for extra flavor.

The fun thing about eating hot pot is everyone should participate in cooking the meal before enjoying it. It brings togetherness and warmth.

What Are The Equipments To Prepare?

A perfect hot pot requires you to have certain elements which include cookware and tableware. Don’t worry! They are available in Asian grocery stores.

  • Heat source – You can use portable gas, induction, or electric burner. Make sure that the heat source is suitable for indoor use.
  • A pot/wok – The pot or wok should be able to sit stably when you put it over the heat source. Make sure to pick the one that is shallow enough so the meal can be scooped out. The perfect pot for a hot pot is Yuan Yang Guo (divided pot). It is a pot that is divided by a wall in the middle so you can have two different broths. Usually, a hot pot has a spicy and mild flavor.
  • Plates – It is used for holding food items.
  • Bowls – It is used for dipping sauces. You also need to provide small plates in case you don’t want to dip everything.
  • Chopsticks – A hot pot isn’t perfect without chopsticks. You need to pick the wooden or bamboo ones. Avoid plastic chopsticks because it is dangerous as you will pick the food items from the high heat. It is advisable to buy extra-long chopsticks so it is easier to pick the dipping items.
  • Slotted spoons – It is optional. It is useful to pick the slippery items.

What Can I Cook In A Hot Pot?

Hot pot is the most versatile meal that you can cook many things with the broth. Here, we list items that are commonly used in typical Chinese hot pots.

You are allowed to improvise or mix whatever you like. If you love protein, then go with it. If you want to make it heavy on vegetables, it is up to you!

In terms of preparation, it is very easy. Just wash and cut them if it is necessary.

  • Meat – You can opt for pork, beef, or lamb. Make sure to cut them into thin slices. To ease you cutting the meat, put it in the freezer until half frozen, then slice it thinly. Another alternative you can try is precooked meatballs or spam.
  • Fish and seafood – You can pick boneless fillets such as catfish, cod, halibut, sea bass, or pangasius. Shrimp and squid are also delicious. Or, you can opt for fish balls, crabs, mussels, or clams.
  • Soybean-based ingredients – Tofu, tofu puffs, pressed tofu sheets, and dried tofu skins are perfect for hot pots.
  • Mushroom – You can choose oyster mushroom, king oyster mushroom, enoki mushroom, shiitake mushroom, or shimeji mushroom.
  • Leavy greens – The most perfect greens are napa cabbage, bok choy, gai lan, choy sum, crown daisy, watercress, and water spinach.
  • Root vegetables – You can pick lotus root, daikon, sweet potato, and potato. Sliced them thinly.
  • Dried ingredients – Kelp is the perfect choice. Rehydrated the kelp and cut it. Another one is the wood ear.
  • Noodles and dumplings – You can opt for fresh wheat noodles, instant ramen, or rice noodles. vermicelli and sweet potato glass noodles are also great. Additional ingredients you can pick are dumpling or wontons. You can make your own or buy it.

Dipping Sauce Ideas

The dipping sauce is as important as the broth. It adds flavor to your meal. In China, there are many types of dipping sauces. Often it is different in each region. Here are condiment lists that can go perfectly with a hot pot.

  • Sauces – You can use Chinese barbecue sauce or shacha sauce, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, or black rice vinegar.
  • Pastes – The perfect pastes can be peanut butter, sesame paste, or fermented bean curd.
  • Oil – Use sesame oil and chili oil.
  • Spices – Use ground Sichuan pepper and chili powder.
  • Aromatics – Pick fresh chili, coriander, minced garlic, and scallions.
  • Nuts – You can use sesame seeds and peanuts that are toasted.

What Is Chinese Hot Pot Broth Made Of?

Chinese hot pot

Each region has a different type of hot pot broth. It comes with various characteristics from the simplest to the most complicated one. In a hot pot restaurant, there are commonly two types of hot pot broth which are mild and spicy broth.

The mild broth is called Qin Tang Guo Di which is made of ginger, scallions, stock, and other dried ingredients such as Chinese dates, mushrooms, and also Goji berries. The stock itself is made of meat. It can be beef, pork, or chicken that is combined with tomatoes and mushrooms.

The spicy broth is also called the red oil broth or Hong You Guo Di. It consists of Sichuan peppercorns, chilies, fermented ingredients such as Sichuan chili bean paste, beef tallow, and also aromatics.

If you want a quick way, you can buy soup base packages in Chinese stores. You just need to dilute the package in the water and it will be ready within minutes.

But if you want to make it from scratch, you can follow this recipe:

Spicy Hot Pot Broth

  • 2 cups or 50 g dried chilies
  • 3 tbsp Sichuan pepper
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 350 g beef tallow
  • 4 pieces cinnamon
  • 2-star anise
  • 1 Chinese black cardamon
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 onion (Sliced)
  • 5 stalks scallions
  • 1/2 cup or 120 g Sichuan chili bean paste
  • 1 handful coriander
  • 1 garlic (Minced)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • water/stock

Mild Hot Pot Broth

  • 4 chicken legs or 6 chicken thighs
  • 5 dried shiitake mushroom
  • 5 slices ginger
  • 3 stalks scallions
  • Goji berries
  • Dried jujube (Chinese dates)
  • Salt
  • Ground white pepper (1 pinch)


Spicy Broth

  • Separate 8 dried chilies for later and then soak the remaining in the hot water for around 30 minutes.
  • Once the chilies have softened, drain them and then chop them in the blender until it becomes a coarse paste.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the Shaoxing rice wine with Sichuan pepper.
  • In a wok, put beef tallow and then add cooking oil, star anise, cassia cinnamon, Tsao-ko (if you use it), and bay leaves. Heat the ingredients on medium heat and cook them until the bay leaves become brown.
  • Turn off the heat and then remove the spices. Let the oil cool for a minute and then add scallions, onion, and coriander. Turn on the heat again to medium and fry until the onion starts to brown. Make sure you don’t burn the onion. After that, remove the aromatics from the oil.
  • Add the chili paste, Sichuan chili bean paste, minced garlic, ginger, and fermented black beans. Simmer for around eight minutes. Keep stirring to avoid sticking.
  • Next, add sugar, Shaoxing wine and Sichuan pepper mix. Cook it for around 2 minutes then turn off the heat.
  • Prepare the heat-proof container and then pour the oil along with the content. Add the dried chilies and let them cool. Once it is cool, refrigerate it (at least 24 hours).
  • Once the solidified soup base has hardened, cut it into four blocks. One block is used with 1 1/2 liters of stock.
  • You can store the remaining blocks in the freezer. It will last up to 6 months.

Mild Broth

  • Place the chicken inside the pot and then pour the water until it covers the chicken. Boil the chicken. Don’t forget to skim off the froth.
  • Add the ginger and then simmer it with the lowest heat for around 2 hours. If you use the pressure cooker, adjust the time.
  • After that, remove the chicken and then pour the stock into the pot. Add water if it is necessary.
  • Add shiitake mushrooms, scallions, Goji berries, and Chinese dates. Then, add white pepper and salt then bring it to boil.


What Is The Difference Between Chinese Hot Pot And Shabu Shabu?

Both Chinese hot pots and shabu look similar. In fact, both are different. In terms of broth, shabu shabu uses light broth while Chinese hot pot uses heavier broth. When it comes to meat, shabu shabu meat is sliced thinly and for hot pot, it can be served thick. For the vegetables, shabu shabu uses a wider choice, and hot pot sticks to the basic. In terms of cooking methods, shabu shabu requires you to cook the ingredients bite-by-bite while hot pot requires you to cook the ingredients in the boiling broth until it is cooked.

Why Do Chinese People Love Hot Pot?

There are two main reasons why the Chinese love hot pot. One is to use it as a way to socialize. With hot pot, people eat, chat, drink, and have fun. Another reason to love hot pot is because it is nutritious.

So, what do you think about the Chinese hot pot broth recipe? We hope you will enjoy it. Don’t forget to check our apple pie recipe here.  

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