Hotpot, a culinary tradition originating from Asia, is more than just a meal—it’s an experience that combines exquisite flavours and social bonding. Ordering hotpot like a pro will take a blend of knowledge, strategy, and a discerning palate. Let’s unravel the secrets of ordering hotpot like a true connoisseur.

1. Selecting the Perfect Hotpot Venue

The restaurant you’re choosing for a hotpot feast also adds up to your experience. If you’re looking for aesthetics or a nearby venue, you might end up compromising on what could have been a game changer. Look for a reputable eatery that offers a variety of broth options, a fresh and diverse selection of ingredients, and an inviting atmosphere. Online reviews and recommendations from friends can also save you from a mediocre experience.

2. Pick Your Broth with Care

Hotpot revolves around the flavourful broth that infuses every ingredient with its essence. Most hotpot restaurants offer a selection of broths, including clear, spicy, herbal, and more. As a professional, your choice of broth sets the tone for the entire meal. Start with a classic clear broth for a traditional experience, or if you’re feeling adventurous, opt for a spicy or herbal variation to tantalise your taste buds.

Image source: my recipes

3. Master the Art of Ingredient Selection

Hotpot offers a treasure trove of ingredients to choose from. As a pro, aim for a balanced mix of proteins, vegetables, and other accompaniments. Select thinly sliced meats like beef, lamb, or pork, and complement them with a variety of mushrooms, leafy greens, seafood, tofu, and noodles. Remember that the quality and freshness of these ingredients greatly impact the overall taste.

4. Understand Cooking Times

Achieving the perfect doneness for each ingredient is a hallmark of a hotpot professional. Delicate items such as thinly sliced meat and seafood cook quickly and should be swished in the broth for just a few seconds. Conversely, root vegetables and denser noodles require more time. Pay close attention to cooking times to ensure every bite is cooked to perfection.

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5. Craft Your Dipping Sauce

Dipping sauce creation is an art form in hotpot dining. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, chili paste, and vinegar to concoct your perfect dipping sauce. There are no strict rules; the goal is to enhance your flavors. Start with small amounts of each ingredient and adjust to your liking.

7. Savor the Social Aspect

Finally, remember that hotpot is not just about the food—it’s about bonding and creating memories with friends and loved ones. Engage in conversations, share stories, and relish the communal nature of this dining experience.

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On top of that, hygiene is paramount when sharing a communal hotpot. Use separate utensils for raw and cooked ingredients to prevent cross-contamination. Make sure the communal ladle remains clean when using it in the broth and don’t forget hand sanitizers.

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