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Hot Pot Ideas using Asian Pantry Essentials

Hot Pot Ideas using Asian Pantry Essentials

Holiday season means hot pot season! That's why when you're doing your holiday grocery, keep in mind the three things that make up a good hot experience: a flavorful broth, a variety of dipping sauces, and the right ingredients dunked in the broth at the right time.

We go through every single one of these and help you enjoy a restaurant-quality hot pot right at home using pantry essentials that you can find in Karman Foods' galleries.

What to know about Hot Pot

The origins of hot pot can be traced over a thousand years ago during the Zhou dynasty when Chinese nobility enjoyed it almost every day and even hosted banquets serving thousands of hot pots.

The experience is more than just cooking and eating a smorgasbord of meat and vegetables swimming in delicious broth. It's also a chance to socialize and make great memories with friends and families, making it a great holiday item to warm up the winter days.

A 4-Step Guide on Making a Satisfying Chinese-Style Hot Pot
One Pot Kanto-Style Sukiyaki Recipe

Asian Pantry Essentials to make Hot Pot Broth

A third of a good hot pot experience is a delicious broth. At restaurants, the soup base is typically served in a double-sided stainless steel pot where you can boil two different flavored broths in one go. This makes the dining experience more inclusive and welcoming to varying palates and preferences.

Preparing hot broth at home may be intimidating at first but really, it's just a matter of adding the right ingredients to a foundation broth and trusting the process.

Here are some hot pot broth recipes that can help you get started:

1. Clear Broth

Let's start with something simple. Your main hot pot ingredients will take charge of flavoring your clear broth. That's why you only need to simmer your choice of soup stock along with basic spices and aromatics such as garlic, onions, and ginger. In Japanese-style shabu-shabu, dried kelp or kombu is also added to the clear broth. It may be simple but it has a refreshing taste that's not too heavy on the tummy.

2. Fatty Broth

If you're a fan of textured broths, this one's for you. Take your clear broth and simmer some pork hocks with it in a pressure cooker. The pork's fat and connective tissues will help thicken up your broth and add a lip-smacking depth to the entire hot pot flavor. It may require extra cooking time but the pay-off is satisfying.

3. Spicy Broth

Spicy broth is a popular choice among hot pot connoisseurs. Who doesn't want extra heat on top of some piping hot broth? To achieve the spicy broth offered by your neighborhood Chinese restaurant, all you have to do is take your soup base and add pan-fried dried chili flakes and chili oil. The chili oil will bring out the iconic ember color in your broth. You may also opt to add some aromatics like star anise, cinnamon, and more chili peppers for extra heat.

One-Ingredient Hot Pot Soup Base Options

Thai Curry Paste - Yes, Thai-style hot pots are a thing! Mix coconut milk with your Thai curry paste for a thick and spicy broth.

Hondashi Dashi Powder - A couple of teaspoons of this can give you a briny and smoky-tasting broth.

Gochujang - For spicy broth fans, a dollop of Korean red pepper paste can give your broth an explosive kick.

Miso Paste - Every meal can use some of miso paste's umami flavors, including your hot pot broth!

Store-bought soup base - If you simply want to go straight to slurping on good broth, there are plenty of hot pot flavoring packets in Asian groceries online. Hot pot soup brands like Little Sheep can give you your instant hot pot broth fix. Whether you want it clear or Sichuan-style, or you're up for fun flavors like tomato or Mongolian-style mala, there's one ready for you.

Hot Pot Ideas for Dipping Sauce

Just like the hot pot broth, the only rule you need to follow in making your hot pot dipping sauce is your own. In fact, you shouldn't be limited to only one dipping sauce. You're free to go crazy! A quick pro-tip from us: When setting up your hot pot ingredients, you better have room for a dipping sauce station because the more options you have, the more fun it is! Here are some dipping sauces you can mix and match depending on your preference:

1. Chinese Barbeque Sacha Sauce - It can be said that whenever there's a hot pot feast, this dipping sauce is always present. It offers an intense umami and savory seafood taste that brings all the hot pot flavors together. If you can choose one dipping sauce from this list, this should be your pick.

2. Raw Egg - Raw egg mixed with soy sauce is a common dipping sauce in Japanese-style hot pots. Just be mindful of where you source your eggs to keep away from unwelcome salmonella.

3. Sesame Oil - Add a nutty taste to your hot pot with sesame oil. We like mixing it with soy sauce, Chinese vinegar, chives, and chili flakes for a complex yet complete flavoring sauce.

4. Chinese Sesame Paste - Made from roasted sesame seeds, it has a roasted nutty taste that elevates the taste of your meats and vegetables.

5. Sriracha / Sambal Olek - Not only are they spicy, they also add a tangy zest to your hot pot.

6. Chinese Black Vinegar - Earthy and smoky umami flavors are what Chinese Black Vinegar brings to the table. It's lighter than balsamic vinegar but stronger than white wine vinegar.

7. Hoisin Sauce - Its sweet taste balances the spiciness of your broth.

Hot Pot Ingredients Checklist

What ingredients to add to your hot pot is entirely up to you. However, while anything goes into the broth, there's an efficient way to go about cooking your hot pot ingredients, particularly on what ingredients to add first. You wouldn't want to cook your enoki mushrooms first and end up with sloppy ones by the time they end up in your bowl.

Here's our quick guide on which ingredients to buy for hot pot and which one to add in your bubbling broth first:

1. The broth flavorings

You'll want to start with this one especially when you're choosing a clear broth for your hot pot. While all of the hot pot ingredients contribute to the broth's flavor, you'll want to immediately add those that cook longer, namely corn, chicken, pork hocks, beef bones, hearty greens with thick stems, and root vegetables like carrots, lotus root, potatoes, and more.

2. The protein

Tough meats, including kidney, liver, tripe, intestines, and even fish and squid balls may take as long as five minutes to cook. You'll want to have these simmering well for better flavor extraction.

3. Seafood and vegetables

Seafood like shrimp, fish cakes, scallops, crabs, crab sticks, oysters, mussels, scallops, and other shellfish go next along with leafy vegetables like cabbage, bokchoy, enoki mushrooms, and tofu. When dunked in hot broth, it won't take you a minute or two to cook these.

4. Noodles and other light ingredients

Rice noodles only take seconds to cook, so better add it in when you're ready to eat it. You may also use shirataki noodles, vermicelli noodles, or even egg noodles.

5. Thin beef strips

Beef strips aren't usually included in the broth the same way as the other ingredients. Instead, the beef strips are swished around the hot broth for around 10 seconds before you take it out, dip into your sauce, and enjoy. In case you didn't know, the term shabu-shabu is derived from the swishing sounds made by swishing your hot pot ingredients in your broth.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when preparing your hot pot ingredients. That's why we're here to curate what you need, so you can focus on enjoying great flavors and having an even greater time. Once you have the right ingredients and discover your preferred broth and sauces, every hot pot feast is a feast to remember.

Check out our galleries for the ingredients mentioned in this hot pot guide and skip the holiday shopping rush by doing your groceries online, only at Karman Foods!

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