November 2020 Part 2: Hot Pot Party at Your House

November 21, 2020

November 2020 Part 2: Hot Pot Party at Your House

Hot Pot Party at Your House

Greetings, Friends of The Mala Market!

Just when Americans were starting to fall in love with Sichuan hot pot the way all of China has, the pandemic has made it impossible for us to go out and enjoy it at restaurants. But that doesn't mean you have to be deprived of the experience of hot pot, which is one of the most convivial and enjoyable ways to spend an evening with the family and friends you live and eat safely with.

There's a reason that Sichuan hot pot is China's most popular type of restaurant. Part of it has to do with the shocking-but-addictive numbing and spicy soup broth that you dip every kind of meat and veg into and cook yourself at the table. But perhaps the biggest part of it has to do with the built-in camaraderie of eating hot pot. You gather closely around the pot, you cook, you talk, you drink, you dip, you eat for hours on end. It's an experience as much as it is a meal. 

And it's an experience that can be recreated in your home fairly easily. All you need is the pot, a portable burner and a hot pot broth to get started. Then you can cook literally just about anything you like in the pot. You can make your own hot pot broth from scratch or you can do as most home cooks do and use a readymade hot pot soup base. Either way, we have you covered! 

Be well and stay safe,

🌶Taylor & Fongchong 🌶

Brass yin yang hot pot
Handmade Brass
Handmade to order for The Mala Market by artisans in China, this "yin yang" brass pot is the style used in upscale Sichuan hot pot restaurants and is also the perfect vessel for home hot pot, providing both superior heat conduction and modern style in a traditional metal. 

Fill one half of the divided pot with spicy mala broth and the other half with a mild meat, vegetable or herbal broth, and everyone can enjoy hot pot. 
Soup Base for Mala Hot Pot (Sichuan Hot Pot, Mala Huo Guo, Mala Tang, Chuan Chuan Xiang)
Soup Base for Mala Hot Pot (Sichuan Hot Pot, Mala Huo Guo, Mala Tang, Chuan Chuan Xiang)

Almost every famous hot pot restaurant makes a version of their broth for the home cook. This one is from Liu Po (Six Grandmas), one of Chengdu's current most popular chains. All you do is add water! 

This large bag makes enough for one-half of a divided pot with some left over. We suggest you make a dry pot (mala xiang guo) with the remainder. 

While ingredients cooked in the hot pot are usually eaten with a dip of toasted sesame oil and garlic in Chengdu and with various sauces including soy sauce and vinegar elsewhere in China, Sichuan eaters also enjoy a dry chili-based dip, which is the contents of the smaller bag. 

Heavy gauge stainless steel hot pot
Heavy-Gauge Stainless Steel

Unlike other steel hot pots found in the U.S., this one is made from heavy-gauge, triple-layer stainless steel and weighs in at almost 5 pounds. Elegant and unique yet tough, this hotpot is built to last a lifetime without discoloration, dents, wobbly handles or leakage. 

Hot pot from scratch at The Mala Market
Make Your Own Broth
Because the readymade hot pot bases are generally quite good, that's the quickest and easiest way to get hot pot on the table. However if you want to tweak the taste or, especially, if you want a hot pot soup that includes beef tallow—which gives hot pot a whole other layer of flavor and is very popular in Chongqing and Chengdu—then you'll need to make it yourself. 

Our recipe for hot pot from scratch with beef tallow is actually the most popular recipe on our entire blog. But because it was written in early 2018, it deserved an update. We have revised it pretty significantly based on several new sources of inspiration and knowledge.