It’s that time of the year; the weather is cold and you are always in the constant search for your next bowl of hot liquids (possibly with noodles). Well, let me tell you all, hot pot is in! For those of you who don’t have the slightest of what I am talking about, do read on; all those with culinary nostalgia are also cordially invited – together, let’s embark on this journey of deliciousness.
Hot pot can appear in a variety of forms and styles, but what you should expect is a metal pot (with an electrical or gas stove) placed in the center of the table. This big pot is usually divided into clear broth and spicy broth (in some places you only have a choice of one, in some others you have a variety of broths to choose from). Afterwards you will be handed the menu usually divided into sections such as: meat, sea food, mushrooms, veggies, tofu and miscellaneous (dumplings, noodles). Each item listed has a box in front of it, which you are supposed to thick. A thick represents one serving, if you want more, write the number inside the box instead of the thick.
I know, this does sound confusing and like a hassle, but let me help you with an example, here’s a sample order for two people: 1 (serving) lean beef (slices), lamb, fish balls, shrimp balls, needle mushrooms, another type of mushrooms, spinach, potatoes, pumpkin, tofu skin, dry fried tofu and glass noodles. If you are super hungry, you can usually other a portion of spring rolls as an appetizer (they are served ready to eat, usually in a set of 2-4 spring rolls).
A must: order some sauces (some restaurants also offer a free sauce bar where you can mix your own sauces), my recommendation: peanut + sesame sauce and spicy sauce cocktail (just put one scoop of each angry red looking sauces).
Once the (raw) food arrives you have to wait for the hot pot soup to boil then throw the things inside (not all at once): remember the meat will take longer to cook, the same goes for potatoes while spinach will be ready in no time. Once cooked, take the things out, put them in your bowl, dip them in the sauces and, voila!
And for all vegetarians out there: the broth is meat based, so even if you just order veggies, they will still have a pretty meaty flavor to it.