I love going to hotpot at the restaurant.
How can I do it at home? What sort of equipment do I need?
You will need the following:
- A pot that's about 12" in diameter and 4 inches deep
- Put the broth in the pot, you can buy broth packages usually at Chinese/Asian supermarket. You just need to mix it with water and boil.
- Food you want to cook in the pot. Sliced beef is my favourite, but mussels, beef balls, fish balls, shrimps, veggies, etc.
- You will need chopsticks, hot pot scoop that looks like the following, so you can scoop the cooked food to your own plate:
- To add flavour, usually you dip the cooked food in soya sauce, but a mixture of raw egg, soya sauce and satay sauce is used as the deep. You can even add chopped chili, green onions and chili oil to it.
Just make the broth. Cook the food you like as you eat. That's it!
There are two options for Chinese hot pot. Either one large pot that everyone dips into or several small pots, one each that you cook your own food in. Both styles are popular in China. It is also common to see the large pot with a divide in the middle allowing one side to have more chilli and spice than the other.
Left: Large pot with divide. Right: Individual pots on burners.
Missing from the other answers, you need some way to heat the pot and keep it simmering. In China, people have individual electric hobs with temperature controls specially designed for the job. You can find them online http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/induction-stove.html
For the individual pots, a paraffin wax burner is used blow the pot. Similar to the heater used in a buffet restaurant to keep food warm.
Really any pot and a little gas stove would do just fine:
In pot spices
This can vary considerably depending on what region of China you are in and what you like. You could just use plain water or a light broth of chicken or fish. I've seen some that resemble cream of tomato soup. Commonly you will see wolf berries, chilli, ginger, garlic, black, white and red pepper corns, bay leaves and Chinese dates. You really could use anything you like.
Again this varies. Usually each person has a small bowl into which they mix their own dip. This may contain rice vinegar, soy sauce, peanut or sesame paste, chilli paste in oil, crushed garlic, pickled garlic, picked chilli and some other pastes of things I have yet to identify. You might be able to buy ready mixed spices for dips in you're local Chinese supermarket or online shops.
Food for cooking
Typical food for cooking includes: Thin cut beef or lamb (occasionally pork), fish of any type, shrimp, oysters and such seafood, thin sliced potato or sweet potato (yam), egg noodles, tofu (either fresh or frozen or the skin shredded), and vegetables such as cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, spinach or whatever greens you have to hand.
To add to your options, because part of the fun is the interactive/participation, cook something you like that you may not see on the menu at the sit-in place. Our house likes slices of that pinkish potato taro.
- We have a propane fired table top stove much like what you can find for camping equipment. The pot which is more wide than deep is resting on this mini stove. It goes without saying that the surface must be safe and stable. In the past, we used a electric non-stick breakfast griddle that was shaped like a elongated casserole dish. In both cases, a matching lid was present. The other characteristic is a wide mouth opening because you expect many guests to scoop and dip constantly so the pot needs to be accessible from the farthest end of your table.
- You can make a simplified broth by boiling water in a smaller pot on the kitchen stove. Then transfer into (pour slowly and very carefully) the hot pot set-up, start with white napa cabbage or bok choy, (shitake) mushrooms, and green onions. Cover with a lid and watch as you bring it to a boil. As soon as the greens soften, you can lower the temp down and begin cooking the morsels of food. The smaller water pot on the kitchen stove is also helpful to "top off" the hot pot as people scoop out broth as soup or the liquid boils and evaporates.
- Leave the sauce ingredients out for individual tastes. Each individual can personalize their dipping sauce. For example, soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste, raw egg, green onions (chopped), sesame oil, Vegetarian BBQ Sauce (https://www.99ranch.com/asian-spices/bbq-sauce/bull-head-vegetarian-bbq-sauce) are spread out and some will skip the egg or the chili.
- To finish the meal, you can introduce bean thread noodles to cook with a fresh sprinkle of greens like spinach. This helps if your guests have big appetites as the bite size morsels may seem like snacks. It also takes advantage of the rich broth that results from the many items cooking and blending.