When in China, going out with locals to a Hot Pot (Huǒguō) restaurant is very common, especially in autumn and winter. When the weather is cooler, eating hot dishes in the damp cold is supposed to ward off colds and flu, and warm your body.
gfchopstix Hot pot definition: Different varieties of stew (broth), which is placed into a metal pot in the centre of a table. The pot is kept simmering, whilst fresh ingredients are placed into the pot to cook. Common ingredients include meat, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wheat based snacks (dumplings or fish balls), seafood, and noodles. All the ingredients are fresh, or as in the case of the meat or seafood, ‘freshly’ frozen. Typically, the food is eaten with a dipping sauce (made from various ingredients).
Nowadays, there are many, many Hot Pot restaurants to choose from. The most famous being either from Chong Qing, or Sichuan, in south west China. The Hot Pot broth is usually very spicy, loaded with all different types of chilies. The spicier, the better. To cater for those who prefer not to have holes burned in their intestines, (or be running to the bathroom to expel the hellish spices the following day), there are also milder broths to choose from. Mushroom is one that is very popular, and also very tasty.
I bought a ‘hot pot kit’ and decided to make my own at home. This way, you get to add the ingredients that are safe for you, and although a lot of preparation is needed, it is MUCH healthier and cheaper than eating out!
Healthy Home-made Hot Pot (hold the chili) Gluten free, Egg free, Dairy free
Best eaten with ‘gluten free’ chopsticks!
- Store bought hotpot kit (or you could make your own)*
- Thinly sliced lamb (not pictured)
- Variety of mushrooms – white button, oyster and brown mushrooms
- Bok choy (or other leafy veg)
- Spring onions
- Fresh garlic cloves and fresh ginger
- Mu er (black fungus)
- Ou (a root vegetable)
- Any other vegetables that you enjoy
- Buckwheat noodles (not pictured)
- Well, this was easy, because it has direction on the packet.
- However, if you are making your own broth, then boil and prepare chicken/beef broth beforehand, and when you are going to serve the hotpot at the table, then place into a pot, bring to the boil, and start adding your vegetables to cook.
- Garlic, ginger, spring onions, and mushrooms go in first, to give the broth a lovely flavour.
- If you wish, before adding other vegetables, you could spoon out a few scoops of the soupy broth and eat as is.
- Be sure not to chop up the vegetables too small, as they will cook up and sink to the bottom of the pot, and become mush.
- Whilst the pot is simmering away, add the various vegetables and meat, wait patiently for it to cook and then either using chopsticks, pick them out, dip into your sauce and enjoy, or scoop them out with a spoon into your bowl and enjoy!
- I didn’t make a dipping sauce, but the most popular ones include sesame, soy sauce, XO sauce, fish sauce and spicy chili sauce. You could make one of your own, or just open a bottle of your favourite sauce and use it as a dipping sauce.
* For your own hotpot broth, you would need either a liquid chicken stock, or beef bones which you boil to make a broth. Add various seasonings to your taste, including some fresh garlic cloves and ginger.
Hot Pot kit consists of dried mushrooms, dates and goji (gou qi) berries, chicken fat, mushroom spices and flavouring:
Vegetables I used (ou, bok choy, green leafy veg, mu er, bamboo):
Hot Pot is a very sociable meal. Make this dish for your family, and friends, or enjoy for a special occasion, where there are many mouths to feed.
Don’t forget your chopstix!