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A 4-Step Guide on Making a Satisfying Chinese-Style Hot Pot

chinese hotpot shared by 4 people

Don’t be fooled by its name because Bullhead Barbeque Sauce unlike any of the barbeque sauces you know. 

But first, let’s talk about what sha cha sauce is. Sha cha sauce is a savory, mildly spicy, umami-inducing condiment that’s primarily used in Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine as a base for soups, barbeque rub, stir-fry seasoning, and as a hot pot dipping sauce. 

A can of Bullhead Barbecue Sauce

Now, when talking about Chinese-style hot pot, you can’t leave out Bullhead Barbeque Sauce from the conversation. Made from ground peanuts, dried fish, dried shrimp, chili garlic, and Asian spices, this slightly grainy and pungent-smelling sauce adds a deliciously curried flavor to your hot pot broths. The Bullhead brand is so popular that some Asian households and grocery stores use it interchangeably with the word sha cha. 

The origin of hot pot is believed to date back over a thousand years ago when Mongolian horsemen would use their helmets to simmer broth and boil meat to fuel their journeys. The Chinese adopted this practice to their local taste and ingredients. For instance, the Shichuan-style hot pot incorporates Shichuan chili peppers, resulting in a tongue-numbing and sweat-inducing dark red broth.

There may be a long-standing history and several varieties of hot pot but really, there are no fixed rules on how to enjoy it. We’ve come up with a simple guide that you may follow so you can enjoy a satisfying hot pot experience that feels like a warm hug right at your homes!

1. Choose your broth

There’s a clear and plain broth, spicy Shichuan-style broth, seafood broth, beef broth, and more. Whichever you can get your hands in should work fine. In fact, you can even use the Bullhead sauce as it is! There are split pots out there where you can enjoy two or more broths at the same time, so those who aren’t big fans of spicy food can enjoy some milder tasting soup.

2. Choose your ingredients

This is where it gets exciting, because you can just add about anything to your simmering broth! However, you still have to be smart about it. Make sure the ingredients complement each other and your chosen broth. At the same time, don’t add everything in at once so your food can cook properly and add flavor to your soup. You’d want to start with those that take longer to cook, like tough meats and raw vegetables, then work your way to the lighter ingredients like thin beef strips, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, shrimp, glass noodles, fishballs, rice cakes, and even tofu!

3. Prepare your Bullhead Barbeque Sauce

For a deeper and richer tasting broth, have a tablespoon full of Bullhead Barbeque Sauce on the side and gradually add it to your scooped portion of hot pot bowl. You can even add in some sliced chili, ginger, or more scallions depending on your taste.

4. Enjoy it with great company!

The hot pot experience is best experienced when shared with other people. You may have different taste preferences but the fact that you can build your own sauces and broths makes it possible to bring everyone together. The only problem you might encounter is who gets the last bowl!

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