Hotpot 101

Hot pot is one of the most popular meals in China. Here are some basic tips for eating hot pot.


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Hot pot is one of the most popular meals to have in China. Originating in East Asia, hot pot has spread all around Asia, and each region has its own twist. 

It’s perfect to eat during winter to warm you up while socializing with others. You gather with your friends and family, sit together and share a meal from a communal pot.

If you have never heard of hot pot before, imagine something similar to fondue — it uses a pot of simmering broth and various raw dipping ingredients of your liking.

The How To's

1. Hot Pot Broth

First, you need to choose a hot pot broth that will fit everyone's tastes. The overall flavor of the other dipping ingredients will be directly influenced by your broth choice. d

Broths differ from region to region, which creates different hot pot specialties/flavors based on regions. Here are some general flavors:

  • Spicy 
  • Clear (not spicy)
  • Or you can do both with a Yin -Yang pot  
  • Pro Tip:  if you’re using a Yin - Yang pot, don’t dip your chopsticks into both!
    Also, make sure you refill the broth as you eat.


2. The Sauces

Next, each person must choose their own bowl of dipping sauce. After being cooked in broth, the ingredients are dipped in the sauce to compliment the flavors (or cool down the spiciness). 

Typical sauce ingredients include soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, chili flakes, and chives. 

Pro Tip: if you’re not sure what you like, the most common sauce is just sesame oil and a little bit of soy sauce.


3. Adding the Ingredients

After you've completed Steps 1 and 2 and the broth is boiling, it’s time to add in the ingredients. 

There are no “rules” for what goes in first, but putting in your meat first will give the broth more flavor. 

Cut the meat into very thin slices so it cooks quickly. The most common hot pot meat choices are lamb and beef. 

Pro Tip:  you will need to master your chopstick skills to eat hotpot. The chopsticks are used to drop the ingredients into the broth.  However, to avoid overcooking the meat, don’t drop it in -- use your chopsticks and move it around for a minute or two.

Various types of seafood are also used, including shrimp, squid, tofu, and fish balls. 

Pro Tip:  tofu can take several minutes to cook, so add that in early on as well. 

Normally, vegetables are the last ingredients that go in after several rounds of eating meat and seafood. The vegetables really soak in the flavors of the broth and other foods. 

Some common vegetables are mushrooms, bok choy, napa cabbage, and spinach.




The Best Hot Pot Places in the U.S.

Unfortunately, despite being very popular in Asia, hot pot isn’t common in the US. Nonetheless, here are some famous hot pot restaurants you can try!

  • Chubby Cattle (Las Vegas)
  • Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot (chain restaurant) 
  • Lao Cheng Yi Guo (New York City)


That’s all you need to know! Have fun exploring your hot pot preferences! You never know what you might discover.


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Elim Chen

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