23.01.2013 Cooking and Tips
Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to attend many hot pot gatherings. My friends love to host, and hot pot is a great way to bring a large group of people together. It requires minimal prep and allows everyone to pick and choose what they want. Hot pot can be made in a variety of ways – we might have Chinese hot pot one night followed by Vietnamese hot pot a week later. Though the ingredients change, the basics remain the same. Below are three easy steps to make hot pot that will suit anyone’s taste.
1. Equipment: Any hot pot will work. I like hot pots with dividers like this one so you can serve both mild and spicy broth, or meat and vegetarian, in the same pot. If you don’t have a hot pot, cooking everything over the stove top is an easy alternative.
2. The Broth: A good hot pot starts with the broth. Broths vary quite a bit. Some prefer starting the hot pot with a plain broth (usually chicken, beef, or seafood), and gradually allowing it to take on the flavors of the ingredients. Others prefer a fiery broth to dominate. A sweet, simple broth can be made with cut-up carrots and corn. Or, for a basic aromatic broth, try green onions, mushrooms and chicken stock. A spicy soup base (I like Lee Kum Kee’s, though any will work) can be added to water and beef stock for a rich, spicy broth, guaranteed to warm you up on a cold winter night.
3. The Ingredients: The beauty of a hot pot is you can put almost any ingredient in it. My friends and I like our hot pots to include a mix of protein, vegetables and carbs. For protein, we generally use fried tofu, fish balls, shrimp and thinly sliced beef – anything that will cook quickly and take up the flavor of the broth. For veggies, try leafy greens like spinach or lettuce, or something that will add some crunch like sprouts, green beans, or snow peas. We’re big fans of mushrooms. We use shitake for its bold richness and thin white enoki mushrooms for their mild flavor and crunchy texture. Finally, we sometimes add noodles (udon, glass or rice noodles) to add density and heft. One more thing, some like to add flavor by dipping into sauces, such as soy sauce or red hot chili sauce.
That’s it! Three easy steps for a healthy, no-fuss meal guaranteed to please almost anyone.