In Asia, family-style dinners are a staple. Everyone sits around a table and shares food and stories. Hot pots are no exception. Don’t know what a hot pot is? Think of a hot pot as a “broth fondue”. Everyone takes raw ingredients and cooks them in a “hot pot”, which sits in the center of the dinner table. If this concept is intriguing to you, here are some hot pot party essentials to help you get started.
The Table: Place the hot pot(s) in the center of a round table and fill it with broth. Careful not to fill it all the way! There will be food going in and out of the pot on a regular basis and you don’t want it to overflow. Surround the hot pot with a myriad of dishes containing raw ingredients for your guests. Everyone sits around the table and takes turns cooking and eating, much like a fondue meal.
If you don’t have enough space at your table, you can bundle ingredients which are in the same category on the same platter: a seafood platter, a beef and lamb platter, a leafy green platter, etc. You can also stagger the ingredients as you bring them out, bringing out only a couple platters at a time.
The Right Tools: First thing’s first; before you even think about the food involved, you must make sure that you have the right type of equipment.
Traditional hot pots can run you about $80 at an Asian market or online. You can avoid a search for the perfect hot pot by using an electric skillet or an electric burner and a stainless steel pot.
In addition to the vessel, you will also need:
The Broth: If you have small vessels for broth and a large number of participants, I suggest that you keep a stockpot full of simmering broth on your stove. As the broth in the vessel disappears, you can keep adding to it.
When it comes to the type of broth, the most basic option is a light chicken broth or vegetable broth. You can make your own broth with a little more flavor. For example, you can make a sacha sauce (which is a spicy Chinese barbecue sauce) that contains soybean oil, garlic, chilies, brill fish, and dried shrimp.
The rule of thumb for your first hot pot party is to keep the broth fairly bland and have plenty of different sauces available for your guests to flavor their own dishes. Speaking of which…
The Sauces: The condiment section of the hot pot table is a mini-buffet. Everyone takes turns mixing their own sauces and seasonings in order to have their very own bowl of dipping sauce. Make sure to have an array of herbs, aromatics, and sauces available for your guests. Some of the mainstays are:
Meatballs of different varieties are also traditionally offered to guests. They come in more than just your traditional beef and turkey so if you are feeling adventurous, try some fried fish, shrimp, pork, or squid meatballs. These also take longer to cook (about five minutes or so). Because of that, you can put them in earlier rather than later, to give them a head start. They should puff up slightly (the seafood meatballs will puff up more) as they soak up the broth.
Vegetable Selections: There are so many vegetables that you can offer. Just make sure that you have a variety of textures and flavors, and that you cut them up into semi-bite- sized pieces. The most common vegetables include:
Cold Drinks: Most of the dipping sauces can be a bit on the spicy side. In addition to that, the room itself will be warm because of the warm bodies and broth. Cold sake, Tsing Tao beer, ice water, and suanmeitang (or sour plum tea) are just some of the traditional options that you can offer your guests.
The Invites and Decorations: Hot Pot Parties in Asian cultures (there are a plethora of varieties, depending on which country you are researching) can be a weekly dinner or a celebration. It doesn’t matter if you want to celebrate a birthday, a promotion, or if you’re having a friendly get-together, check out these great Hot Pot Party Invites, now available at VG Invites. Click on the image below to learn more about your favorite invitation. If you created your own broth, consider sharing the recipe with your guests using this free recipe card that comes with your purchase. Also free are food tent cards.
Make the celebration even more vibrant with these wonderful printable banner options that you can download instantly! To learn more, click on the image of your favorite design below or visit www.vginvites.etsy.com to see more designs.
Have you participated in a Hot Pot Party before? Do you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas to share? Victoria loves to hear from you! Jot down your thoughts in the comment section below.