The Japanese call it Shabu Shabu, the Chinese call it Hot Pot, and meanwhile the Vietnamese call it Cu Lao. Whatever you want to call it, it’s still the deliciously popular style of Asian eating that we love.


 There’s just something about swish swashing your food in a pot of steaming soup that makes it so appealing, maybe it’s the taste of freshly cooked ingredients, or it’s just the fact of how one meal can bring a huge group of people together. Whatever it may be, the popularity of hotpot has lasted throughout Asia for over 1000 years.  From its origination in Mongolia to its spread to Southern China, this popular style of eating has won the hearts of foodies throughout the world. 


The great thing about Hot Pot, besides being fast and delicious, is that every time is different from the last. Whether it be the ingredients, the soup base, or just the people you’re feasting with, every hotpot meal is a unique experience on its own. Growing up with Hot Pot as part of my culture, I for sure picked up a few tips here and there. Here’s some food for thought, especially for those who are diving into Hot Pot for the first time.


Use a Wide Range of Ingredients


It may seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised at how many people cook the same food every time they hotpot because it’s what they’re used to. But the list of Hot Pot ingredients are endless! The usual must-haves, such as seafood, red meat, and vegetables, are of course necessary. But while you’re at it, why not throw in several more ingredients into the pot? Some unique ingredients that have grown popular, include cheese filled fishablls, sea cucumber, octopus, ramen, and taro. Hot Pot’s all about mixing and matching, so why not make your pot a colorful one?


It’s all in the Sauce


Sure, the fresh ingredients will give off a naturally sweet taste, but it’s the sauce that adds that extra touch. The list of sauce combinations is almost as long as the list of ingredients, with Hoisin sauce, Soy sauce, Sa Cha sauce, Chili peppers, and Satay peanut butter, among some of the most popular. Discover what you like, what you don’t, and soon you’ll have your own personal version of the perfect dipping sauce, because all Hot Pot lovers do.


Cook Your Beef Quickly


When Hot Potting, there’s a time limit to cooking each food to get the best results. For meat, slicing thin pieces is the key factor. As for beef in particular, make sure to be fast and not drench your meat for too long, or you’ll end up with some pretty rough, hard to swallow beef. For me personally, 3 seconds is all it takes, swish your beef swiftly three times and you’ll have a tasty balance of tender and medium rare.


Throw in a Raw Egg


Trust me, this tastes better than it sounds. Especially popular in Taiwanese and Cantonese Hot Pot, throwing in raw eggs will help you reduce heat absorbed from the food. Chinese herbalists believe that Hot Pot causes you to be more prone to getting a sore throat. After having Hot Pot countless times, I can be a witness that this is unfortunately true. Besides eggs, using rice congee instead of soup, can also help cool things down.


Drink the Soup


The options of soup flavors stack up as well. With soup bases ranging from chili pepper spicy to savory seafood, you can pretty much soak in any flavor you like. Just make sure to take a sip of that soup after you’re finished, with the soup soaking up all the flavor of the ingredients, it will taste amazingly good.

What to Drink Besides the Soup


Chug down as much of this sweet herbal tea as you can. A must-have necessity at any Hot Pot meal, Wong Lo Kat tea is known to do wonders in helping to cool down the heat. The refreshingly cold taste of beer is also another perfect matc­h to the steaming heat of Hot Pot.


One last tip, Hot Pot in the summer! I’m serious, and so are a lot of other Hot Pot fans.

Apparently, swish swashing over a steaming pot with the air conditioning blasting, is an experience that many Hot Pot lovers find addicting, proving that Hot Pot wasn’t only made for winter.
So take advantage of summer now, turn up the AC, light up that stove, and swish swash away. 

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A writer and photographer who's in love with new experiences, visual art, and the written word. Born and raised in Chicago, I've also spent time living in New York City, Hong Kong, and traveled throughout various places. A travel enthusiast by heart, I love roaming new places and exploring the people & food that comes with it. As an avid story teller, I love sharing my discoveries, whether it be my latest travel experience or newest food adventure. I truly believe that food is the universal factor that connects all of us, no matter how different we may be in other ways, we cannot deny that there’s at least one thing that we love to eat and that one favorite food magically and unconditionally gives us comfort and pleasure. That feeling is one of the purest forms of happiness and I’d love to share that feeling through my work

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