I grew up having Huo Guo, or Chinese Hot Pot, whenever my parents would host large groups of people. As a kid, it was my introduction to cooking my own food. Why my mother trusted me with a pair of chopsticks and a boiling pot of broth at the kitchen table (but not at the stove) I’ll never know. I loved how communal it was – like fondue, making S’mores around a campfire, or Korean BBQ. As I grew older, I realized just how easy it is to host my own Hot Pot Dinner Party.
This is a mish-mash of different Asian hot pots. Since I don’t live near a Chinese grocery store, I had to make do with the goods in Koreatown and Little Tokyo. Essentially, you gather a bunch of raw vegetables and protein. Make sure they’re clean, and lay them out around the star – the hot pot. You can get one that has a gas burner, but frankly, those frighten me. Especially since I like to use a table cloth. This model is electric – a complimentary gift from Zojirushi. It is their Gourmet d’Expert (affiliate link) which you can also use to sautée and stew.
Fill the hot pot with broth or water, and season with whatever you like. I used scallions and garlic. You could also use ginger – plus there are specific hot pot seasoning bases you can buy in the store. There are other specialty tools, like mesh dippers. I found that giving everyone two pairs of chopsticks (one for cooking, one for eating) and a couple tablespoons worked just fine.
For a dipping sauce, I let people make their own from Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, Bullhead Chinese BBQ Sauce, Sesame Oil, Scallions, and Sriracha. The proteins included thinly sliced beef, tofu, and fish balls. For vegetables, I used bok choy and Chinese broccoli. There were also enoki mushrooms and bean sprouts – I wouldn’t use those again because they’re hard to fish out. I put a big pot of rice on the table, but you could also just add some noodles to the pot.
Give everyone a large bowl to make their sauce in. Then, as their food cooks, they dip it into the sauce and eat. As the water/broth in the electric skillet evaporates, just add more. I had an electric tea kettle, already warmed nearby. And if there’s a strict vegetarian in the group, you can wait to add the meat in at the end. There are also special hot pots that come with a divider – which come in handy if you like different levels of heat!