If there’s one simple cooking method that crosses over nearly every Asian cuisine, the hot pot may be it. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Mongolian and more. And with cooks of every level still making it every single day, that’s proof in the pot that it is indeed totally easy to crave, and to make.
This post is brought to you by McCormick
I like to think of hot pot cooking like the Asian fondue. It’s communal. It’s active. It’s social. And that’s what makes the hot pot just as perfect for entertaining as it is for a simple but fun dinner at home with the family where everyone gathers around the simmering brothy pot and jockeys for position and that perfectly cooked shrimp. Everyone gets to eat exactly what and how much of whatever they want, so long as it fits in the pot :).
Our family has a serious affair with Asian cooking and after our recent travels to Vietnam, Cambodia and Korea, we returned with even MORE passion for Southeast Asian food than before. If that’s even possible. So it’s no surprise to me then that when I checked out this year’s McCormick Spices Flavor Forecast report that identifies the top upcoming trends in food I wasn’t too surprised to see what topped the forecast for 2018: a love affair of worldwide flavors of Hot Pot cooking.
Back home here in Salt Lake City, we have a favorite hot pot restaurant where every customer heads to the back of the restaurant to a wall of self-serve refrigerated coolers stacked with racks of color coded plates to choose from nearly every hot pot ingredient you can imagine. It’s like a frigging hot pot gold mine.
To say I have some serious hot pot inspiration and aspiration is an understatement. But as usual, my cravings have set me to the task!
What Is an Asian Hot Pot?
Since this is a communal cooking affair like the classic fondue, there are a few essentials you’ll need to acquire to get your hot pot on.
Cooking at the table is the essence of the hot pot. To do so, you can either go classic-style with a divided pot for serving more than one broth, or if you go simple style with just a single broth, you can hack the hot pot and use a deep sided electric fry pan or your Instant Pot instead.
Because I know I’ll be dinner-ing time and time again in the hot pot style, I invested in a stainless steel divided electric hot pot. You can also find hot pots with grills at their base to grill your meats and seafood before combining with your broth in the pot that sits on top. Hot pots are also available as the pot only that can be warmed at the table on a butane heater or an electric burner.
Other things you’ll need for your hot pot cooking:
- Small serving bowls for your diners to load as the food cooks. Keeping the bowls small keeps the soup hot and encourages your fellow hot potters to continue cooking.
- Chopsticks and soup spoons for slurping and diving for what’s cooking. Be sure to use chopsticks designated for eating and those for cooking. Plunging your eating chop sticks into the communal broth is a big no-no.
- Small strainers (one for each diner) for fishing for your ingredients or keeping them contained as they cook.
- Ladles for serving the individual broth(s).
Broth No.1 : Asian Red Curry Hot Pot Broth
If you’re going with two broths, you’ll want to serve two that differ from one another. Think one mild and one spicy. Or a broth that goes with beef and a broth that works with veggies or seafood. Because the broth will become more and more flavorful as it becomes more infused with the ingredients cooking in it, starting with a simple but balanced broth is totally acceptable, and actually, preferable.
I chose two different broths for our hot pot time machine. The first is a simple beef broth flavored with sliced sweet onion, Thai Kitchen red curry paste, and McCormick’s ground ginger and garlic powder straight from my spice drawer. I pulled the recipe straight from the McCormick recipe website after reading about it in the McCormick Flavor Forecast report.
Hey there, what do you know? I’m on trend!
When a broth is this simple it’s even more important to use a really good quality beef stock, and while I often like to make my own, I don’t always have time to make it or have any languishing in the freezer so using Kitchen Basics Original Beef Stock makes soup prep even easier and takes only 20 minutes or so before you’re ready to hot pot.
Broth No. 2 : Thai Curry Hot Pot Broth
The second broth recipe for our hot pot adventure comes from my friend Ali’s site where she recently shared her recipe for her Easy Thai Curry Hot Pot, a coconut-based broth similar to the one in my 5 Ingredient Thai Pumpkin Soup recipe, minus the pumpkin obvi.
I made a just a couple of changes to Ali’s recipe and used chicken stock in lieu of vegetable stock and added 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of fish sauce similar to the flavors in my Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup. I’ve made that soup so many times I just couldn’t help myself to bring the flavors round that way again.
What Vegetables are Good for a Hot Pot?
The sky is really the limit here. Just think about veggies that go with Asian flavors and you pretty much have your recipe for deliciousness.
- Greens like spinach, baby bok choy, morning glory, kale, watercress, and always chopped Napa cabbage
- Mushrooms of any and every variety like shiitake, oyster, brown, enoki
- Bean sprouts
- Onions like green onion, sliced red or sweet yellows
- Bell peppers or spicy peppers
- Snap peas
- Green beans
- Baby corn—and the funniest clip of eating baby corn ever
- Small baby potatoes
- Garnishes like Thai basil, cilantro, mint and sliced limes
Hot Pot Carb Loading: Rice or Noodles?
It’s totally your preference and totally your call whether to use noodles or steamed white rice as your carb of choice. Or, why not both?
At our house it’s usually all about the noodles. Sometimes its fresh egg noodles (think long strands of Asian-style fettuccine) sometimes ramen noodles (spiraled and toothy), rice noodles similar to what we use for Pho (thicker, slicker and long), or vermicelli noodles like we use in our Vietnamese chicken curry noodle salad bowl (thinner and more delicate rice noodles.) Whichever I use, I cook the noodles while the broth is simmering and have them available in a bowl just like all the rest of my ingredients.
Choose Your Hot Pot Proteins
Now that we have the broths a-bubbling, it’s time to get into the goodies, and in my family that starts with the proteins. Here’s a few ideas:
Thinly, VERY thinly sliced beef (and or pork). This is pretty much a non-negotiable. I buy it pre-sliced from my Asian market where they sell wagyu cuts in paper thin slices that cook in about 30 seconds. If you slice the beef yourself, choose a high grade, fatty cut like ribeye or short ribs and pop it in the freezer fro 15-30 minutes so it becomes firmer and easier to slice as thinly as possible. When boiling the meat in the hot pot there’s no need for seasoning or marinating the meat (if grilling, yes! it’s delicious that way!)
Very thinly sliced chicken and lamb are also options, but I rarely choose them myself.
Asian beef meatballs. These are usually found in the freezer section and are pre-cooked so really, the just need to be warmed in the broth. They come in a variety of flavors, depending on how daring you feel 🙂 including unusual seafood flavors I’ve yet to experience.
Tofu. I looooove fried tofu and while I can fry it myself (I’m experimenting with an air fryer recipe coming soon!) it’s pretty easy to just buy it packaged. It’s not as crisp but it does the job. If fried tofu isn’t your thing, use a firm or extra firm tofu so it holds up to cooking with the other ingredients.
Shrimp, crab, or fish. Next to the tofu, shrimp is my favorite addition to my hot pot bowl. It works well in either broth and always tastes a-okay. If using crab or lobster, precut the shells so they are easy to extract the meat from. Mussels, clams and other crustaceans are also popular. And the classic florescent fish cake is kind of fun to throw in too. Mild white fish and scallops are also great seafood options.
Eggs. Quail eggs are a traditional addition, but to keep things tidier, I’ll cook some soft jammy ramen eggs to slice and add on afterward.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Asian Red Curry Hot Pot Broth
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 2 containers (32 ounces each) Kitchen Basics® Original Beef Stock, (8 cups)
- ¼ cup Thai Kitchen® Red Curry Paste
- 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon McCormick® Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon McCormick® Ginger, ground
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- For the broth, heat oil in 6-quart stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in stock, curry paste, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder and ginger. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stir lime juice into broth just before serving.
- Place proteins, vegetables, noodles, and garnishes in bowls or on plates for guests to customize their meal.
- To serve, pour broth into one or both sides of the hot pot, depending upon whether you’re offering one broth or two different broths. Cook the vegetables and proteins in the broth and ladle over noodles or rice.
- NOTE: Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker Method
- Multifunction Electric Pressure Cooker Method (Saves 1 hr. cooking time): Heat oil on medium sauté setting in pot of multi-function electric pressure cooker (instant pot). Add onion; cook and stir until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in stock, curry paste, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder and ginger. Cover and lock lid into place. Set to cook 10 minutes on high pressure (or Soup setting). Vent pot and release pressure before opening and carefully remove lid. (Check manufacturer’s manual for safe operating instructions.) Set on low sauté setting. Stir in lime juice. Allow guests to cook steak in broth, about 2 to 3 minutes or until desired doneness. Customize individual bowls and serve as directed.
More Asian Inspired Recipes to Make the Meal
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