If you want to be the coolest among your friends, there is no choice. You must throw an epic hotpot party and surprise them with this glorious communal feast.
Fortunately, we could help you!
If you follow our tips, you will find that making a home-made hot pot is both fun and quick. You will still get yourself oily but, trust us, it will surely be worth the trouble!
Now, if you are ready, let’s see which steps we have to follow to make a proper hotpot party happen.
STEP 1 GATHER SOME FRIENDS
Call 5/6 friends. It’s easy. No, dinner is nothing virtual, gather means ‘’eating together with phone in flight mood’’. Bother them. Persuade them. Let them come over. A hot pot party does not happen very often!! It is a social moment of sharing, a communal meal that matches two of the best things in the world: friends and good food. How could they say no?!
In any case, you can make a hotpot for you and yourself, but you know, you will not probably get the real essence of this fantastic eating style!
STEP 2 CHECK THE EQUIPMENT
- Heat source: any portable heat source such as an electric burner (coil or induction), or a tabletop gas burner could work to put in the middle of the table.
If you don’t have a portable stove and any intention of buying one, you can opt for one of these two alternatives:
- Chuan Chuan hotpot: you can use the normal stove you usually cook with. In this case, you need to skewer the ingredients on sticks and place them in the soup. Use the same skewers for ingredients with similar cooking time and go on with adding and dipping everything into the soup. Let them boil. When the skewers are ready, take them out and bring them to the table to eat.
Malatang: is similar to Chuan Chuan but, in this case, the ingredients could both be threaded onto skewers or just placed into the soup. Once they are prepared and boiled and cooked, the ingredients are usually served on soup plates together with the broth.
- Pot: If you have a portable stove, then use a metal, round-shaped, deep stainless-steel pot that can hold a good amount of food and heat quickly. They are the best for hotpot!
You can also choose between a double-flavored pot or a single pot (we suggest double flavor when you want to gather friends from different Countries with a different perception of ‘’spicy’’ ):
- Yuan yang pot: a flagship of Szechuan cuisine, the Yuanyang pot consists of a double- flavored pot, usually divided into a spicy and no spicy section. Match your mala broth with a mild soup (usually tomato or mushrooms) and voila! A triumph of flavor would explode in your mouth!
Single pot: more standard than its double-flavor variant, the single pot allows you to enjoy a single spicy or lighter broth. If you have guts, go for the spicy broth, and let your mouth burn as never before! DeZhuang offers different spicy degrees! Choose the 75° if you are brave enough.
Cutlery: don’t be shy and try standard wooden chopsticks. They would be perfect for your fancy hotpot! Forks? They are okay though, but not so cool…
Try also to use a separate set of chopsticks/forks to eat raw meat and avoid food contamination. Useful during these times but not only.
- Big smile: You are having an iconic hotpot party! Smile and enjoy this fantastic moment with your dear friends.
STEP 3 GROCERY RUN
To make a hotpot, you must prepare essentially four main things: the hotpot base, the soup, the dipping sauce, and all the raw ingredients.
- CHOOSE YOUR HOTPOT BASE
First, you must choose whether to make the hotpot base from scratch (lazy, please choose DeZhuang) and what kind of soup you want (one or two-tastes).
If you have decided to cook your hotpot base from scratch, it means that you are going to spend some time to go for shopping! Not ready? Again, choose DeZhuang Hot Pot bases. It’s the same beautiful and traditional as homemade.
Btw, this is what the non-lazy may need to buy to make the broth (in case they don’t go for a prepared one like DeZhuang):
Ingredients for the Spicy base:
- 2,3 cups Szechuan dried chilies
- 2 tbsp Red Szechuan peppercorn
- 2 tbsp Green Szechuan peppercorn
- 1 cup beef tallow or vegetable oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 3-5 pieces star anise
- 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 Tbsp dried liquorice root
- 2 pods black cardamom (cao guo) (optional)
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 2 cloves
- 10 slices ginger
- 1/2 leek
- 10 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp fermented chili and bean paste (Doubanjiang) mashed with a fork into a rough paste
- 2 Tbsp fermented black bean paste (Douchi) mashed with a fork into a rough paste
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 cup cooking wine or Chinese baijiu
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp MSG (optional)
- A few whole dried chilies
Mild base (Vegetarian)
- 4 rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms including their soaking liquid
- 1 leek
- 5/10 slices of ginger
- 1 cob of corn
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp cooking wine
Finding authentic local Chinese ingredients could be contentious. Hence, to speed up the process, we would suggest you buy some packed hotpot-base. You can find them in your local Asian market. Choose DeZhuang if you want to have a traditional and plenty of flavor full hotpot experience.
We provide you with different spicy hotpot bases ranging from 12° to 75° degrees of spiciness. If you are not entirely used to spiciness but want an initial experience of Szechuan cuisine (without regretting later), the 45° spicy hot pot base is perfect for you!
We also have alternatives to your mild broth. Tomatoes, mushrooms, or shrimps? You have just to choose!
2. CHOOSE YOUR SOUP
Clean water or a boxed broth are both fine. But it’s worth the extra effort to make a chicken, beef, or vegetarian broth for a more intense soup! Stock should be prepared in a large amount. If your pot can hold 3L, then prepare 5L to avoid being out of broth. As the broth seems to boil away you should be able to refill it. Do not forget this tip.
3. CHOOSE YOUR DIPPING SAUCE:
The dipping sauce is where you will souse your food after cooking it. Sauces can be used to offset spiciness or to give an extra kick to taste. For instance, if you are having a spicy soup, it is better to use a mild sauce such as the traditional Szechuan sesame oil dipping sauce: an exquisite sauce made of sesame oil, garlic heads (1-2), 1 tbsp salt, and chopped green onion and coriander. If your soup is already mild, try to spice it up a little bit with roughly chopped chili and soy sauce. Do you prefer other alternatives? Fine! You can use anything you like! Sesame oil with vinegar, peanuts or peanut sauce, Sha Cha Sauce (Chinese BBQ sauce), Chilli oils, chocolate (someone does it) … Just choose your favorite!
4. CHOOSE YOUR INGREDIENTS
The ingredients are varied, and, again, the choice is up to you! We listed below some of the most common ingredients used regularly in the hotpot. You can choose two or three for each category and create your own personalized hotpot table!
STEP 4 LET’S COOK!
Hot pot bases
- Hotpot base from scratch
- Place dried chilies in a saucepan and fill it with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chilies soak for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, you can start preparing other ingredients. Remove the caps from the chilies after they have soaked till mushy, then chop them as finely as possible until they become like a paste.
- In a spice grinder or mortar, roughly grind 2 tbsp of red Szechuan pepper, 2 tbsp of green Szechuan pepper and the whole spices. Place in a bowl with enough water to cover and soak for 15 minutes.
- In a soup pot, add vegetable or peanut oil and heat over a medium flame. Place scallions and cook until they become brown, then remove them and put aside. Now add the beef tallow, garlic and ginger and continue to cook on a medium flame but do not brown them.
- Add minced chili paste you prepared earlier, chili bean paste, fermented black beans, and ground chilies. Pour it into one of the stocks and bring it to a boil. Add spices from step 2 (with their water), wine, cardamom, sugar, and MSG. Low the heat to a minimum and cook the soup for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the soup steep for at least half an hour.
- Packed hot pot base:
FORGET ABOUT EVERYTHING WE MENTIONED AND POUR YOUR BASE INTO BOILING WATER. YOU SAVED TIME. PLEASE SIT.
- Set your table, preferably wide and round-shaped
- Pour 1-1.5l of water (or beef/chicken stock) into a pot.
- Add a bag of hot-pot base (220g), plus extra chili, ginger, and garlic to taste. Bring it to a boil, and don’t turn the stove off. Keep the soup constantly bubbling.
- Choose your favorite ingredients, whether they’re meat, fish, or vegetables, and gently place them in the hot soup until perfectly cooked.
- Prepare your ingredients. Slice them thinly and arrange them nicely on your friends’ plates or group them on large plates around the simmering pot. Leave scallops, shrimp, meat, and fish balls whole.
- Put dipping sauces into small bowls and place them near each plate.
- Turn on your hotpot. It will take 5 to 10 minutes for the soup to come to a good boil.
Adjust the heat to keep a gentle boil and start putting some ingredients into the pot.
STEP 6 ENJOY!
- Try to stick with the blanching order of blanching. Although there is no set order, root vegetables and mushrooms go last (for Chinese, but first for many foreigners as it takes 5-8 minutes to cook). Green vegetables should be added last, otherwise, they could absorb the flavor and ruin the soup base. Sliced meat takes only 10 seconds. Try to let the toughest stuff soften in the soup while dipping and eating smaller ingredients!
- Do not forget to drink! Fresh coconut juice is best for spicy hotpot but beer is a must. Moreover, fresh fruits, or why not, even ice cream, are perfect for having a sweet, restorative ending meal. In China they eat Ice Jelly or Tangyuan. Choose what it is available.