Asian · Cuisine

My Very First Chinese Hot Pot Experience

A dear friend of mine, Qi, invited us around to their place for a vegetarian Chinese hot pot. Her sister brought her an electric hot pot—all the way from China—as a present. So, Qi wanted to share this authentic experience with us by cooking everything vegetarian. How cool is that?

It was also the cold at the time. She told me that Chinese hot pot is the ultimate winter food; the ultimate comfort food for the winter. I totally agree with her.

Before I explain what Chinese hot pot is, I’d like to share a photo of our starters for the night: Garlic chives and egg dumplings. The pastry is made with boiled water which sets it apart from other dumplings. And, they are made by Qi’s sister. 

hot pot

OK, back to the description now:

Chinese hot pot is a cooking method or a dinner style, so to speak. Basically, a soup base is simmering at the table and ingredients are dropped into the pot. Once they are cooked to your satisfaction, you serve yourself along with the condiments. So, the whole cooking process is done at the table. It’s quite social because your involvement is required.

A typical hot pot would include meat, fish and seafood. However, my friend went out and bought some vegetarian meatballs to substitute. The great thing about that was, aside from her thoughtfulness, even the non-vegetarians loved those vegetarian meatballs!

The vegetarian hot pot my friend prepared for us had two different stock: one savoury, one hot. She told me that some people cannot handle a hot soup base so the host should provide an alternative. This style of hot pot is called yuanyang. I’m guessing it’s yin-yang?

hot pot

Our vegetarian hot pot ingredients included:
• Tofu

hot pot
• Wontons
• Various vegetables, especially white (Chinese) radish, sliced lotus root
• Various mushrooms such as shitake and fresh black fungi (below)

hot pot
• Bean curd skin (below)

hot pot
• Noodles (ours was sweet potato noodles which were quite interesting)

hot pot

hot pothot pot

Condiments:
• Chopped spring onions
• Coriander
• Soy sauce
• Peanut sauce
• Chopped peanuts
• Hoisin sauce
• Fresh coriander
• Crushed garlic

Here you can see our food gently simmering…

hot pot

Thank you Qi, Shawn and Harry for sharing this incredibly authentic experience with us. 

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