Hotpot has become a family favourite. We don’t really do hotpot that much in Singapore where it is far too hot for hotpot but the cool winters of California are great for it.
So it has become our own little tradition to do hotpot for Chinese New Year Eve (known as reunion dinner or tuanyuanfan 团圆饭) and we do hotpot on Thanksgiving too.
Hotpot is an easy meal for a crowd, provided you have enough utensils and hotpots!
And you preferably need to have access to an Asian supermarket. But if there’s none nearby, you can make do with some other ingredients.
We use a portable gas stove and this fun dual hotpot. Those ladles with little holes in them are great for picking out just your ingredients. And we set out regular soup ladles too. Extra long chopsticks are for cooking the meat with.
But here are my typical hotpot ingredients.
I make two broths in our dual hotpot. One is a vegetable stock made with carrots, celery and whatever else I might have like corn if it’s fresh. And the other is an instant one with dashi powder (or you could make a dashi stock with bonito flakes and konbu) and miso.
I usually buy Napa cabbage and chop that up. Bokchoy would be great too. A more traditional leafy vegetable is tongho but it’s slightly bitter. This year I also added baby spinach that I had in my fridge.
We love the little bunashimeiji (beech mushrooms). There’s also shiitake and king trumpet mushrooms, which are all found at my local Asian supermarket.
While I do most of the hotpot shopping at the Chinese or Vietnamese supermarkets, we prefer the meat from Japanese supermarket Mitsuwa. It’s a bit of a drive but it’s definitely so much more flavourful and tender. Asian supermarkets usually have thinly sliced meat (beef or pork) for hotpot. But you could always buy a nice piece of meat, freeze it for a bit to firm it up, then slice it really thin yourself.
Our favourites are fish tofu, fishballs and cuttlefish balls. They’re springy and fun to eat and cook really quickly. My husband and kids like imitation crabsticks which need just like 30 seconds to warm up in the broth.
Other ingredients may include dumplings, tofu puffs, vermicelli or udon, konyaku, quail eggs and more.
Don’t forget your dipping sauces like peanut sauce, chili sauce or sesame sauce. We also like the Taiwanese shacha sauce which is made from garlic, shallots, chilis, dried shrimp.
Get that gas stove going, the broth boiling, then pick your favourite foods and dunk them in! Happy hotpot-ing.
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