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Heart of Fire Huǒ Guō (Hot Pot)

Hot Pot - Bam's Kitchen

It is said that the Huǒ Guō (hot-pot) originated from Mongolia where the Mongol warriors used their helmets to cook food when they moved from one place to another. Ingenious!!! The cooking method was then spread to China, and wider to other countries.

As the hot-pot dish spread to other parts of the country, it picked up local ingredients and embellishments.  In the Southern part of China, seafood and vegetables are the main ingredients for hot-pot.  In the winter seasons,  the people liked to eat food that instantly warms their bodies and lifts their spirits.

Huo Guo

In China hot-pot is called Huǒ Guō 火锅 , which literally translates to Fire Pot. It is sometimes also referred to as Chinese Fondue or Steamboat. Many different cultures in Asia have a different type of hot-pot. For example, in Japan have a version called Shabu Shabu, Thailand has Suki hotpot, Malaysia and Singapore have a steamboat and Vietnam has a hotpot called ẩu canh chua. This is just to name a few, but there are many more types of hotpots from other countries and regions.

Huo Guo

All of these types of hotpots have different ingredients, dipping sauces, vegetables, fish, dumplings and meats that are cooked. However, the one common theme of all hot pots is that is a beautiful way for families and friends to sit around a steaming pot of yummy pot of goodness; cooking, chatting and enjoying their time together. This is a fun weekend meal for the family.( Please note to be careful and supervise young children)  However, it is very romantic to share your hot-pot with your significant other. You can cook for each other, feed each other and if you decide to enjoy a spicy broth you can really heat up your night.

Huo Guo

A hot-pot meal features a pot on a portable burner that is used to simmer seasoned broth in the center of the table. Raw vegetables, sliced meats, seafood and noodles are prepared and set around the pot. Each of the dinner guests is required to be their own cook. Meats and vegetables are placed individually into the hot broth by using chopstick until the desired doneness. The cooked foods are then placed into their own bowl and guests can dip them in the prepared sauce before eating.

Huo Guo

Hot pot is a heart healthy meal as it consists mainly of vegetables, lean meats and fish. This week it has been very damp and cool in Hong Kong and I wanted something to heat our family up from the inside out. There are so many potential flavorings that can be added to the broth but we decided on making two different kinds. We made both a mild chicken and Chinese herb broth and also a "numb and spicy," ("ma la," 麻辣) broth to make everyone in our family happy. Here is everything you need to know to enjoy a fun evening with family and friends around a Chinese Hot Pot.

You can put almost anything your little heart desires into hot-pot it just needs to be cut thinly and washed and ready to go.

Heart of Fire Huǒ Guō (Hot Pot)

Serves 4 Adults or 2 really hungry teenage boys

  • Electric or gas Hot pot (or some type of cooking device that you can cook the items at the table while you are seated)
  • Hot Pot Soup Base Spicy (recipe below)
  • Hot Pot Soup Base Mild (recipe below)
  • 1 diakon radish peeled and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 2- 3 corn on the cob washed and cut into thirds
  • 8 oz Mushrooms (I used enoki and button but also shitake are wonderful)
  • fresh baby bok choy
  • fresh baby greens (chrysanthemum, spinach, bean sprouts, etc)
  • Chinese cabbage cut in large pieces
  • peeled and thinly sliced Japanese sweet potatoes
  • uncooked thinly sliced beef, pork, chicken (Whatever you like)
  • uncooked thinly sliced white fish (any type that looks fresh in the market)
  • uncooked fish ball or crab meat
  • some other ideas of additions may be (Tofu slices in large cubes, shrimp, dumplings, the sky is the limit)
  • noodles (shrimp noodles, udon or any Chinese type of noodles)

Hot Pot Soup Base (Spicy)

Huo Guo

  • 1 packet of "Little Sheep Hot Pot Soup Base- Spicy" in the red packet, or you can make your own...
  • Homemade spicy broth ( 3-4 chopped dried Sichuan peppers, handful of dried Sichuan peppercorns, 2-3 whole star anise, 1 tablespoon of Chili bean sauce, 1 tablespoon of chili sauce, 1/8 cup chili oil, 2  large slices of fresh ginger, 2 liters of hot chicken stock (gluten-free vegetable stock), zest of 1 orange, handful of dried mushrooms, 2 chopped spring onions)

Hot Pot Soup Base (Mild and Flavorful)

Huo Guo

  • 1 packet of "Little Sheep Hot Pot soup Base-mild" in the green packet, or you can make your own...
  • Homemade mild broth with Chinese Herbs (2 liters of chicken broth or gluten-free vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon of wolf berry, 1 tablespoon of dried logan, few slices of Chinese yam root, Codonopsis root (Dang Shen), 2 chopped spring onions and salt to taste.
  • Homemade mild broth without Chinese Herbs (2 liters of chicken broth or gluten-free vegetable broth, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, 2 slices of ginger, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 2 whole anise,  2 chopped spring onions, salt and white pepper to taste.)
Dipping Sauces and Condiments:
  • Chopped bird chilies and soy sauce for dipping (Place in small dish and serve on side for dipping)
  • Chopped garlic fried golden brown (place in small dish and serve on side as a condiment)
  • Chinese picked vegetables (place in small dish and serve on side as small palate cleanser)

Step 1: Determine if your guests would like the hot and spicy or mild broth (I made one of each)

Step 2: If you decide to make one spicy and one mild, get out 2 large cooking pots and place both on the stove burners. In one pot, place all of the ingredients for the Hot Pot Soup Base Spicy, stir, put lid on and bring to boil. In the other pot, place all of the ingredients for the Hot Pot Soup Base Mild, stir, put lid on and bring to boil. Then reduce heat to simmer. (If you decide to make only one type of broth this whole procedure can be done at the dining room table in the electric or gas hot-pot and you can skip step number 6)

Step 3: Place the chopped diakon radish and the cut corn into the boiling Hot Pot soup stocks. Cook about 30 minutes or until the diakon radish is fork tender and the flavors have a chance to mingle.

Step 4: Plate up all of your uncooked thinly slices meats, fish on to separate serving plates. Also plate up all of your raw vegetables and other items such as noodles to prepare for the guests to cook at the dining room table.

Step 5: Prepare your dipping sauces and condiments and place on dining room table.

Step 6: Transfer your Hot Pot Soup Base Spicy or mild version from your pot on the stove to your hot pot at the dining room table. (Be careful- very hot) Turn on your electric or gas hot-pot and return temperature up to a slight boil. (If you decide to make only one type of broth this whole procedure can be done at the dining room table on the electric or gas hot-pot)

Step 7: Make sure the hot-pot broth is boiling and with your cooking chopsticks start with either your meats or fish and dip into hot broth and swish back and forth until cooked. Then start adding some vegetables and have each person cook and grab from the hot-pot their finished cooked product.

Step 8: Provide small bowls for the cooked delights and enjoy dipping your cooked meats, fish and vegetables in the dipping sauces and condiments.

Step 9: When all of the guests have finished cooking the meat, fish, vegetables, add the noodles as the last step and cook until al dente. (I like to save a few mushrooms as this really makes the broth really savory.)

Step 10: Enjoy a wonderful heart healthy bowl of hot pot with family and friends.

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Healthy World Cuisine (HWC) Magazine is committed to provide a lifestyle traveling culinary experience featuring fresh ingredients, easy recipe preparation and culinary enjoyment. READ MORE...

Heart of Fire Huǒ Guō (Hot Pot)

By HWC Magazine  , , , , , , ,   

February 19, 2012

  • Cook: 1 hr
  • Yields: 4 Adults or 1 Hungry Teenager


diakon radish -

corn on cob -

enoki mushrooms -

baby bok choy -

chrysanthemum greens -

spinach -

chinese cabbage -

fish balls -

beef -

white fish -

tofu -

shrimp noodles -

sichuan peppers -

star anise -

chili bean sauce -

vegetable stock (gluten free) -

ginger -

chili oil -

wolfberry -

dried logans -

Chinese yam root -

Codonopsis root -

sesame oil -

spring onions -

white pepper -

chinese pickles -

  • This is a fantastic post, everything laid out so we can see what’s what. I had better rummage about for my old helmet and see about making something like this though i will be never be able to find all these gorgeous exotic ingredients .. I shall be making my own spice mixes as per your instructions, that was a great addition.. c

    • Thanks Cecilia. My second mild broth recipe you should be able get all the ingredients no matter which country you live in. The beauty of this dish is your can customize it and use the ingredients that are in season and are local. Take care, BAM

  • Anonymous

    Nose is still running

    • Perfect! It was the Sichuan peppers and peppercorns that gets your sinuses running. Next time should we reduce the heat?

  • Aw, cute little (meat) hearts. Soup/stew is certainly universal, isn’t it.

    • Thanks Kathleen! You are the first one to notice my little meat hearts. I think you are right. I can’t think of a country that does not have some type of soup or stew but Asia is the place for hot pots.

  • I’ve had Shabu Shabu before.. your recipe looks so much more enticing than what I had (in a restaurant).. I love the two flavor choice and would definitely try the hot and spicy one! I didn’t understand why it was broth and not oil (as in a fondue) and now it makes so much more sense with your historical background. I think this is so healthy as well! xo Smidge

    • Japanese Shabu Shabu is also very nice. I used to make that all the time when we lived in Yokohama- Shabu Shabu has a different broth, different dipping sauces and some different vegetables. (I might have to post that one on Bam’s Kitchen some time soon) Thanks Smidge.

  • Wow, this was quite an undertaking, nice job!!

    • Thanks Dawn. Don’t be overwhelmed by the steps as actually takes less than an hour to prepare, Maybe even 45 minutes you can get everything washed, cut and prepped and ready to go. BAM

  • Just had my first shabushabu – thanks for the recipes. It’s one of my new favorites!

    • Glad to hear Taryn. I hope you are doing well. I am on my way over to your website now… BAM

  • This hot pot is definitely much better than the one I ate at camp 😛
    So much flavour spice and everything nice!

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Zoe @ Pantry and Fridge

    This looks wonderful and very warming 🙂 I would love to give this a try. It’s been chilly here and am past my usual soup day. I love your photos – another wonderful post. 🙂

    • Thanks Zoe. This hot pot will definitely heat you up from the inside out. I am becoming a complete wimp about cold now that I live in Asia. I had 3 layers of clothes on and it was 14 degrees Celsius today. Take care, Bam

  • Very impressive!
    🙂 Mandy

  • Wow, I wish I were sitting around that table. Looks incredible!

    • Anytime Joanne, there is always an extra spot at the table. Take care, Bam

  • I love hot pot! The base of your spicy hot pot looks especially amazing, although also especially spicy! Every time I go to the Japanese supermarket in Paris I’m always sure to pick up enoki mushrooms so I can have a nice hotpot myself! Looks like you had a great meal! 🙂

    • Enoki mushrooms are the best. Feel free to lower down the spice and heat level of hot pot broth to suit your liking. My second mild broth is very flavorful and has ingredients that you can get in most countries. Here in Hong Hong they have hot pots that have 2 sections one side for la (spicy) and other side bu la (not spicy). Have a great day Charles. BAM

  • This looks so yummy! I love hot and spicy, I can’t wait to try this 🙂

    • Dear Sydney, thanks for stopping by my website so I could find yours. Tonight I am going to make your mojito but after acupuncture class I might need something a little stronger than a virgin mojito . BAM

  • What a great idea…I’d never thought of doing a hot pot at home…only had them in restaurants. This is a great use for a crock pot and seems like a fun and tasty idea for a weekend dinner adventure. Great post!

    • Crack out the crock pot… This is a fun and easy meal for family and friends. After all you don’t have to cook, your guests do. Take care, BAM

  • Superb! I have always wanted to do a hotpot, especially the spicy one.
    Now I know how. Thank you!

    • Thanks Andy, feel free to tone down the spices to your liking but from looking at your posts I think you like it spicy. This one is both spicy and numbing because of the Sichuan peppercorns.

      • Sounds fab. Love Sichuan pepper. Need to get myself a little gas burner.

  • This is amazing! I am so impressed with both your knowledge on the subject and your cooking!

    • Thank you. I am surrounded by smart beautiful international friends that teach me something new every day. I also love recreating things I try in a restaurant. Do you try to do this? I absolutely love the yummy tomato based hot pot broth I tried in Causeway Bay. I’m still working on getting the recipe for this broth so I can share with you. More taste testing is required. Take Care, BAM

      • I definitely try to do that! I get ideas from restaurants all the time, but not usually this in depth of ideas lol

  • I don’t know if using your helmet was ingenious because I would’ve gotten hungry on the battlefield from smelling my helmet LOL. But this dish came out wonderfully.

    • Good point Kay… It could be a big distraction. However it kept their head warm after cooking in it and safe during battle. Just out of curiosity have heard about the strange use of police helmets for pregnant women in the UK. Look it up and after you stop laughing lets touch base again. Thanks, BAM

      • LMAO.. I couldn’t stop laughing. I don’t even know what to say.

  • thank you for the history behind this – I have had this once, YEARS ago, and I think I should do this again 🙂

    • I know people do not try it because they feel they do not have the right equipment. Some other alternatives to using a helmet like the mongol warriors did is; a crock pot, electric frying pan, electric burner with pot all can be used. Take Care, BAM

  • Lisa

    I love that the hot pot originated from warriors cooking in their helmets (I guess they cooled them down and cleaned them out in some body of water afterward?) Then again, I wonder if the term ‘Hot Head’ originated from that lol?! This would have been a great meal for Valentine’s Day – I wish it had been up before then. I cannot wait to try it!

    • “hot head” – that is a good one. Actually in Chinese Medicine they believe the types of foods and drink you intake have either warm or cold influences on your body. Warm foods such as spicy peppers and ginger can bring your body into balance and warm up people who are yin(cold) but if you eat too much spicy foods then this can lead to excess yang(heat), exterior syndromes, heat syndromes. So there you have it.. Maybe that’s why the Mongols were such fierce warriors.

  • Oh, I love hot pot! But I’ve only had it in restaurants – I’ve never made it (mainly because I need to figure out a heat source for it). This looks great – you’ve inspired me! Thanks.

    • You can use a crock pot, portable electric frying pat, electric portable heating element, fondue pot. You can get creative it just has to get hot enough that it can come up to a boil. I bought s special one here in Hong Kong that steams, fry, and boils for hot hot for $180 HKD or less than 25 Euros.

  • This was so very informative for me! I love the heart shaped beef! This would be so much fun for two or more!

    • Thank you. It was my husbands idea to roll the meat as this is done in many restaurants. Of course I wanted to have a little fun so shaped his in hearts. Take care, BAM

  • That’s so cool that you included a history tid-bit on this one. And what a fun meal!

  • Your welcome Rachel. Have a great day. BAM

  • Wow, this looks so good! I love how you formed the meat into hearts! Haha!

    • Thanks. I formed the little meat hearts for my hubby…. Take care, BAM

  • Ideal for sharing with friends!

  • I love to go out for hot pot and have never made it at home – must try! Yours looks fabulous.

  • What a great reminder, I definitely don’t make hot pots often enough! They’re just so easy, versatile, and satisfying… What’s not to like?

    • It is so easy and versatile. I think it is just a good excuse to have a fun gathering. BAM

  • Love your table of beautiful and fresh ingredients. If that isn’t calling to me to crave a hot pot, I don’t know what would be?

    • Thanks Geni, there is always an extra spot at the table for you. BAM

  • Oh this is a favorite of mine to eat though I have never actually made it myself! Looks fantastic.

  • What a great party meal – everyone helps themselves to the things they love! Great post and instructions!

  • looks incredible tasting! thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks for stopping by my website so I could find yours. Looking forward to keeping in touch. Take Care, BAM

  • Hi Bobbi! I am back!!!long time…I miss hotpot so much,really! you made a real Chinese hotpot, exellent!!:P

  • R W Peek

    Thank you for sharing! Is the mild little sheep seasoning ok for gluten free guests?

    Is the hot pot in your picture electric, and if so, does it get hot enough, fast enough to be acceptable? What brand is it and do you recommend it? Of course, it will not work in all countries, depending on voltage…..

    • Bams Kitchen

      Thanks for stopping by Bam’s Kitchen. This is perfect hot pot weather! The mild sheep seasoning in the green package is NOT gluten-free. However, you can make your own gluten free mild broth with 2 liters of chicken broth or gluten-free vegetable broth, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, 2 large slices of ginger, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 2 whole anise, 2 chopped spring onions, salt and white pepper to taste.) The hot pot unit that was used in this post was made for 220V and Hong Kong Voltage and it is called a Loyola brand multicooker. We like this particular model as it is easy to use, simple on off and control settings and it can also be used to grill and perform other functions. However, there are many on the markets and it is best to get one in your country of origin due to the electrical voltage needs. Stay warm and take Care!

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