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When the weather outside is frightful, hot pot is so delightful. A hot pot dinner is easy to serve because you’re not really doing much work — your dinner guests are doing the cooking themselves.

If you’re looking for a creative way to have a small gathering, here are some tips to ensure a successful hot pot party.


To put the “hot” in hot pot, you’ll need a burner, unless you have an electric hot pot. Opt for an electric or induction burner for easier clean up, or a butane burner for better heat control.

Look for a pot that’s wider than a typical soup pot so the heat will be evenly distributed when you’re cooking. Pots that are 6 inches deep and 12 inches wide often work.

If you want to get fancy, keep an eye out for pot-and-burner sets that include built-in dividers so you can cook more than one broth at the same time.

Make sure you have all the necessary utensils for cooking and serving your ingredients. Your list should include tongs, chopsticks, ladles and platters for arranging your meats and veggies. Pro tip: Be sure to get a slotted spoon so ingredients don’t get lost in the pot.


It’s important to choose broths based on your guests’ taste buds and preferences.

Looking to keep things simple? Go with a basic stock to let the dipping ingredients shine, or opt for a store-bought or homemade chicken broth, which usually has carrots, ginger and daikon.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, look into seafood hot pot bases or spicy hot pot broths.


The sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing ingredients to cook in a hot pot. Pro tip: It’s recommended to keep proportions of meat, non-meat items and starch to a 2:4:1 ratio to achieve a more-balanced flavor.

Choose ingredients to pair well with the broth flavors you have. Popular dipping ingredients include bok choy, tofu, pork belly, mushrooms (shiitake and enoki), rice noodles, dumplings and fish balls.

Look for thin, pre-sliced meats that will cook fast. Popular choices include beef — especially fatty cuts of brisket and short rib — lamb, chicken breast and pork belly. Thin slices of fatty beef are a must for hot pot parties, but if you can’t find them, opt for rib-eye. You can find thinly pre-sliced meats in most Asian supermarkets.

If seafood lovers are com ing to your hot pot feast, there’s a bounty of ingredients to choose from. Shrimp is a widely used hot pot ingredient; they can be cooked whole or you can use shelled or headless shrimp. Scallops, lobster and crab are also popular options. Store-bought or homemade fish balls and fish cakes are also delicious add-ins. Since store-bought fish balls are already cooked, they don’t take long to reheat in the broth.

While meat and seafood tend to be the staples of a hot pot meal, veggies are important because they balance out the heavier items and add both texture and flavor to the broth. For an extensive variety, consider hearty greens with thicker stems (baby bok choy), leafy greens like lettuce or watercress that will cook quickly, mushrooms (shiitake, portobello and more), tofu, root vegetables (lotus root, potatoes, carrots) and corn.

Last but not least: your starches. When it comes to carbs, noodles tend to be more popular than rice. Whether you use wider noodles, fresh pho noodles, udon or ramen, it’s up to your personal preference.


Make things more fun for your guests with a DIY sauce bar. Whether you’re into Sriracha and sesame oil or black vinegar and ginger scallion, don’t be afraid to get creative.

Sauce and toppings options often include chile pepper, scallions, chopped cilantro, rice vinegar, minced garlic, peanut sauce and lime juice.


Before your guests arrive, wash and trim the vegetables into bite-sized pieces, clean seafood and slice the meats, if necessary. Be sure to get your sauce bar ready and get out the hot pot.

Once all your ingredients and equipment are prepared, it’s time to set the table. Put ingredients in the same category — like meats and seafoods — together on the same platter.

You also don’t need to have all the ingredients out at the same time. Frozen ingredients, like pre-cooked fish balls, can be kept in the freezer with only a few out at a time.

Similarly, other ingredients can be stored in the fridge, and you can top off the plates when they run low.

Tip: Serve the dipping ingredients in stages. Start with veggies and seafood, then meat, and save the starch for last. Top off the broth occasionally to maintain the flavor, and don’t overcrowd the pot with raw ingredients.

Most of all, don’t forget to have fun! It’s a party, after all.

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