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Sichuan Hot Pot, the real deal.


Hot Pot, or huo guo, is the Chinese fondue that is sweeping the culinary world. If you have not heard of it, now is your chance. While it is daunting to create this authentic Chinese food fare from scratch, I will offer you some real short cuts and hints.

Food Name: Sichuan Hot Pot

Difficulty: 8 out of 10

Preparation time: 90 mins.


  • Sichuan Hot Pot broth package (this will save you 2 hrs of prep time, but make sure you get the good one)
  • organic chicken broth (whether homemade or canned)
  • half an onion, five cloves of garlic, three slices of ginger
  • various vegetables (see pics below)
  • various meats (below)
  • various tofu and noodles if desired
  • Hotpot dipping sauce (I always make my own, recipe below)


  1. boil chicken broth and equal amount of water over stove top. 3 Liters of broth is plenty for a party of 4-6 ppl.
  2. Stir in onion, garlic and ginger. Stir in Sichuan Hot Pot package a bit at a time. Make sure it is not becoming too spicy.
  3. bring to boil and simmer for 20 mins.
  4. prep all your meats and vegetables and put them on plates and in containers.
  5. make your dipping sauce (recipe below).
  6. Set up butane stove (the kind from camping supply store) in the center of table. Take all the necessary precautions regarding ventilation and fire hazards.
  7. bring boiled broth to table, watchout for sleeping cats lying at your feet.
  8. Tell your salivating friends and family “Dinner is Served!”
  9. cook, eat and repeat until stuffed.



Make sure the broth is not too spicy. You can alway add more later or choose a spicy dipping sauce.


For food to throw into the pot we like the following (clockwise from the bottom: chinese radish, tiger prawn, king mushrooms, water crest, spinach, tofu sticks (soaked), tofu, tofu ribbon, Polish sausage (oktoberfest sausage works great too), imitation crab, bokchoy, thin sliced lamb.


Mini Recipe: Zen’s Secret Peanut Dipping Sauce

I have kept this recipe from prying eyes for years. Today it’s your lucky day.


  • smooth peanut butter (one tbl spoon per person served)
  • Chinese cooking wine (left in photo above), (one tbl spoon per person served)
  • sesame oil (2nd from left in photo) (to taste)
  • chive flower paste (3rd from left in photo) (one tea spoon per person served)
  • fermented tofu (you get the picture) (1/2 square per person served)
  • lite soy sauce (one tea spoon per person served)
  • chinese vinegar (to taste)

Mix all ingredients well and sprinkle with chopped cilantro if desired.




Side notes:

I don’t create my own broth paste because as the feature photo shows it takes more than ten exotic ingredients. Traditionally ingredients are powdered and slow cooked in beef fat for a long time. I bought my current package from Chengdu, but you can find them in good Chinese grocery stores. Ask the clerk which brand he/she recommends.

I use a Corning Glassware cooking pot because it is safe and I can see what’s cooking. Small strainers and long chopsticks can also be very useful. When eating, we prefer to use a bowl and a small plate. Bowl for the sauce and plate for cooling the food. Beer is good for hot pot, but we also like coconut water (pictured above). It takes the edge off the spices.

Do not put starchy foods (dumplings, noodles, potatoes etc.) in first because they thicken the broth too much. Boil more water in a kettle and add to pot when needed. I highly recommend taking a walk after Sichuan Hot Pot because inevitably you WILL eat too much. Mahjong or boardgames afterwards with family or friends is how we like to finish off the evening.

Have fun and experiment. Share your favourite foods in hot pot by commenting below.

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