Heart of Fire Huǒ Guō (Hot Pot)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
- 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)
- 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.)
- 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.