As temperatures drop and winter creeps up, it is the perfect time to whip up a steaming concoction of hot pot at home!
Imagine dipping tender slices of meat into a warm comforting broth, seasoned to perfection with fresh, sweet vegetables and a myriad of scrumptious ingredients.
Hot pot is a versatile, gastronomic experience which is easily tailored to individual tastes, diets, budgets, and preferences. Best of all, it is a relatively healthy meal which can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age or background. In fact, some of the strongest bonds and friendships may even be forged over a round of hot pot!
Rather than shelling out big bucks to dine at a hot pot restaurant, you can easily organise your own Hai Di Lao inspired hot pot at home!
Here is what you will need to get started:
The soup base is a crucial element of hot pot. From spicy to sweet or savoury, the possibilities are endless. Ready-made soup bases are incredibly easy to prepare – simply pour in the soup base, add the right amount of water and bring to a boil. You may also add fresh vegetables such as leeks, carrots or corn for more depth and sweetness in the soup before adding in other ingredients.
As a starter, you can never go wrong with a classic chicken, pork bone or mushroom ready-made broth which pairs perfectly with vegetables, tofu and meat slices without overpowering the palate. For spicy lovers, take it up a notch with Sichuan hot and spicy, curry prawn or even black pepper pork broth.
Tip: if you have a divided pot, you can have various soup bases!
Sliced meat such as pork belly, pork shoulder/collar, sliced beef or lamb is a staple in hot pot. Opt for thinly sliced cuts of meat which cooks faster while retaining a tender mouthfeel. For seafood lovers, whole prawns, scallops, squid, sliced fish and fish balls add a whole other dimension to your hot pot experience.
As for vegetables, you can’t go wrong with mushrooms, tofu, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, potatoes and beancurd rolls. Complete your hot pot experience with rice and various selections of noodles such as instant noodles, ramen, vermicelli and udon to soak up the glorious, flavourful broth.
To enhance the flavour profile and hot pot experience, dipping sauces are a must! Here is where you and your fellow diners can get creative with endless combinations of sauces. A tip is to prepare various sauces based on the broth you have chosen.
If your broth is mild, some crispy chilli oil or XO sauce will be ideal. For spicier broths, sesame sauce or oil is a great way to cut through the heat. For an added kick, prepare some fried shallots and garlic – both fresh and fried! Don’t forget the staples like soy sauce, white pepper, salt and some fresh garnish such as spring onion and coriander!
A stainless-steel hot pot is a great investment – especially the ones with 2 compartments or more! Hot pot works best with a mobile burner or hot plate which can be placed on your dining table or counter for easy dipping. On top of that, a slotted spoon or ladle is a handy tool to have to help you scoop up ingredients with ease. Also, prepare plenty of chopsticks, soup bowls and small plates for the quintessential hot pot experience.