When I think about Taiwanese hot pot, I think about long and leisurely lunch dates with my friend Nicole back when we were both teaching English in Taiwan. On the hottest summer days, we loved retreating into the frigid interior of our favorite hot pot franchise to steam our faces over deep pots of boiling broth.
Nicole would always start nibbling at the raw cabbage before her food was ready. And no matter how many times we had hot pot, she'd always gasp at how delicious the dipping sauce was: "Anything would taste good in this sauce. This is the reason people eat hot pot, this sauce. This sauce is addictive!"
At the restaurant, we each had our own pots and could make the soup to suit our tastes. I never used the raw egg that came on the platter, but she would always break it into the soup at the end and make a kind of egg drop soup with her noodles.
When I moved back to the US, I missed Taiwanese hot pot and my version of the salty, spicy dipping sauce. I decided to make it at home for my friends, the first time I'd ever made Taiwanese hot pot myself. I was happy that all the ingredients I recognized were easy to find at the local Asian grocery store, from the Taiwanese barbecue sauce called shacha to the frozen meatballs, fishballs, tofu, and fish-paste shapes that I had been missing.
When I invite friends over for Taiwanese hot pot, I find its best to make two buffets: all the raw ingredients are plated and put on the table around the pot in the middle, and all the dipping sauce ingredients are lined up on the counter so there is more room on the table.
Check out our other pages for Chinese hot pot recipe ideas!
Choose as many as you like, but aim to have at least 4 ounces per guest.
Choose as many or as few as you like.
Let your guests assemble their own dipping sauce with any combination of these ingredients.
Plate your proteins and vegetables and lay them out on the table. Lay out the dipping sauce ingredients wherever you have room.
Heat the broth until it's boiling, either on the stove or in an electric hot pot. (It will take a lot longer to get to boiling on a burner or hot plate.)
Make your own dipping sauce. Any self-respecting Taiwanese hot pot dipping sauce will start with a generous glob of shacha, but after that, the ingredients are up to you. I usually add them all. I might be addicted to black vinegar.
When the soup is simmering in the middle of the table and all your guests are seated with their bowls of did-it-themselves dipping sauce, start adding the raw ingredients into the pot with your chopsticks or wire mesh skimmers.
Use your chopsticks or the wire skimmers to retrieve pieces of food as they are done cooking. Dip them in the sauce and eat them, with or without some rice.
Add more broth to the pot as needed.
When everyone’s had their fill of the meat and vegetables, add the uncooked noodles or rice cakes to the remaining broth. Guests can ladle out a bowlful of soup to drink, or serve themselves the noodles or rice cakes when they are finished for a decisive end to a long meal.
Some of my favorite online stores might have just what you need for your next tabletop meal!
Asian Food Grocer has a great selection of essential ingredients and many hard-to-find items.
Cilantro Cook Shop has a great selection of quality raclette and fondue sets.
For The Gourmet has an amazing selection of cheeses and chocolates.
Sephra specializes in chocolate, caramel and fruit fondues... and fountains.