• Hot pot with my family over the Chinese Lunar New Year is always special. (Angie Cui )Source: Angie Cui
Hot pots are a communal affair so what better time to eat them than during Lunar New Year festivities.
By
Angie Cui

3 Feb 2021 - 1:36 PM  UPDATED 3 Feb 2021 - 2:09 PM

Hot pot, my favourite meal, has a rich history. One of the earliest documentations of hot pots in China occurred during the Zhou dynasty, but some historians say it actually originated hundreds of years ago in Mongolia.

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During the Chinese Lunar Festival, my family have hot pots, as they are a chance for us to reunite. Not only do hot pots allow us to come to the table to share a meal, but when we have them at home, we prepare them together, too.

Our family usually prepares a hot pot by setting a pot that's divided into two sections on a portable burner in the middle of our table. We fill it with flavoured broths and let it simmer. We usually prepare two flavours: one is plain and the other is spicy. 

"During the Lunar Festival, my family relishes hot pots, as they are a communal affair."

Around it, we place plates of raw meat, seafood and vegetables that we have prepped for cooking in the broth.  Typical hot-pot ingredients include thinly sliced lamb, pork and beef, seasonal vegetables, mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, chopped potatoes, beans, chopped carrots, frozen lotus, fried tofu, prawns, crab sticks, fish balls, seaweed and noodles. The more ingredients we feature, the more we suit everyone's preferences.

How Angie Cui and her family prepare hot pot at home.

Once we've set everything down, we're ready to cook together. We cook our respective ingredients in the one-pot with chopsticks specifically used for cooking. Once cooked, we place them in our own bowls, but use another pair of chopsticks to eat. We also dip our cooked food in a dipping sauce for more flavour. My favourite dipping sauce is sesame and chive sauce with chopped garlic.

You can also use individual pots to cook in if you wish. But whichever method you use, it goes without saying that this is the time to put weight-gain concerns to the side.

That said, hot pot can still be healthy. Just choose your ingredients carefully to avoid overloading on saturated fats, carbohydrates and sodium. We like to have lots of high-fibre vegetables in our hot pots to maximise their nutritional value. 

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Hot pot

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2-4 pork bones or chicken as soup stock
  • 4-8 cups water, also depends on the size of your pot, add more water if needed
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4-6 chopped spring onions
  • 3-5 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 goji berries
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp red bean curd sauce (optional, this can vary depending on the individual's preference as some people prefer to add chilli oil paste
  • Ginger slices
  • Thinly sliced lamb, pork and beef 
  • Vegetables such as tomatoes, mushrooms, chopped potatoes, bean shoots, frozen or fried tofu, bok choy, coriander and Chinese cabbage
  • Seafood options such as prawns, mussels, scallops, crab stick and baby octopus

1. Place the chicken and pork bones in a large pot. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat for 5 minutes.
2. Drain and discard liquid. Rinse the chicken and pork bones. Drain. Return to a clean pot and add 8 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Skim off foams as it forms. Cook covered with the lid for one more hour.
3. Strain the broth and set aside. Discard the bones and save the chicken meats for other use or you can leave them in your hot pot as well if you want.
4. Combine the broth, ginger, onion and other soup base ingredients in a large pot and bring over high heat. Reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Keep the broth on a gentle boil/simmer on top of the portable stove or electric wok or whatever you use.
6. Place all the raw ingredients you will eat for the hot pot on a serving plate.
7. Everyone can take whatever they want and cook them in the hot pot and catch up while waiting.
8. Have fun!

Note: Dipping sauce is optional. The different dipping sauces can be found in any Asian grocery stores, otherwise, feel free to replace with normal satay sauce or chilli sauce.

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