Chinese New Year is around the corner! And that only means one thing — hotpot!
From the wide variety of flavourful broth bases and ingredients to customisable sauces, dining out for hotpot is truly an experience for the books. Nothing beats poring over the menu and choosing the next side dish to have with your loved ones!
If you want to bring such a premium experience into your home, all you need to do is think out of the box. The best part? You don’t even have to splurge! So, get your game on with these 6 tips to elevate a CNY hotpot to restaurant-tier at home!
Start with snacks
Inspired by the snack bar at popular hotpot franchises, serve up some light bites to satiate “hangry” (hungry and angry) guests. This should help to line their stomach and tide them over until the broth starts to boil. Think local: prawn rolls, cassava, tapioca or spin crackers…the list goes on!
Mixed nuts and other lightly salted varieties are great if you’ve got more health-conscious guests. This naturally cholesterol-free mix of cashews, almond, cranberries, macadamia, pistachio kernels and walnuts is a premium choice! It’s resealable and great for storage, so you can shop for a wide variety for guests to snack on.
Just remember to portion them into small bowls and platters instead of leaving them out in the packaging for guests to help themselves. This not only helps with presentation, but also prevents them from getting too stuffed before the broth has even begun to boil.
Get a dual-use hotpot
Most hotpot franchises will give you the option of having two to four broths at any one time. Whether you want to dip your meat into a silky collagen or spicy mala broth, the world — or hotpot — is your oyster!
With the rising popularity of other hotpot experiences like Thai mookata, a dual-use hotpot will be incredibly convenient for future gatherings. You could get one with an attached grill or designed in a yin and yang shape so you can have two broths simmering at once.
Tip: Regardless of which hotpot you choose, always keep ingredients such as ring rolls nearby so guests can quickly dip it into the broth and eat. A hotpot essential!
Freshen it up with seafood
Your hotpot menu is never complete without a wide variety of meats! Besides the usual options like beef shabu, you can serve up premium meats such as ribeye and iberico pork. Make things interesting with a premium cut such as pork collar shabu!
Chef Pork Collar Shabu
Chef Delight Beef Shabu
Another suggestion is to offer festive staples that can be found in “pencai” (CNY Treasure Pot) such as scallops, canned abalone and even razor clams! Seafood is a great alternative if there are people eating who abstain from meat.
Going with frozen seafood is great if you’re strapped on time. The nutritional value and its quality remain unchanged!
Golden Chef Razor Clams
Golden Chef New Zealand
Superior Wild Abalone
OF Delite Frozen Japanese Scallop
Simply having such ingredients on the table to put in your hotpot will elevate the dining experience and get your guests in the festive mood instantly!
Offer a variety of carbohydrates
While a wide variety of meats and seafood is important, the same can be said for carbohydrates! Most hotpot franchises will also have a wide selection of starchy options for you to choose from. That could be a nice and plump udon, vermicelli or even just plain rice if you like to keep things old school.
Red vermicelli is a healthier alternative to the traditional instant noodle options frequently seen on the hotpot table. It’s naturally free from trans fats and wholegrains — plus, it’s also higher in wholegrains!
Allow guests to customise their sauces
Like bread and butter, dipping sauce is the ultimate hotpot companion. There’s no way you can go without it! Be the host with the most and go all out with a mini sauce bar. Let your guests’ imagination go wild!
Get saucy with it: a jar or tube of ready-made sauce is a great place to start. Provide chopped spring onions, cilantro, and even ground nuts. Roasted sesame seeds are great for added flavour and that coveted crunchy texture! A chill sauce with the flavours of ginger and garlic will be a perfect base for people who prefer their sauces more spicy.
End on a sweet note
Lastly, some hotpot franchises will offer a zesty and refreshing granita to end your hotpot meal. There’s nothing like the coarse texture at the first spoonful melting against your tongue to cleanse your palate in a refreshing way!
If you’ve ever wondered how to make such granitas, look no further — you can make granita from any fruit with this simple recipe. This dessert can be made with any fruit in any kitchen. Whether it’s from oranges, limes or guava, the choice is yours! The fruit and fruit juice you choose should match as much as possible.
What you’ll need:
– 4 cups Fruit (Cubed)
– 1/4 cup Fruit Juice
– ⅛ tsp Salt
– Yoghurt to serve (optional)
What you’ll need to do:
1. Blend the fruit, juice, and sugar. Combine the fruit, lime juice, sugar, and salt in a blender or food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Purée until smooth, about 1 minute.
2. Freeze the purée in a shallow pan for 30 minutes. Pour the purée into a metal pan; if the purée is deeper; it will just take longer to freeze. Freeze for 30 minutes.
3. Scrape the granita with a fork and freeze again. Take the pan out of the freezer. The purée should have begun to freeze, especially around the edges and top. Scrape the mixture with a fork and return to the freezer. Repeat this process every 30 minutes for a total of 4 hours. The granita is done when the mixture is completely frozen and appears dry and flaky in texture.
4. Scoop into bowls and serve. Scoop the granita into bowls alone or with yoghurt if using.
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn
Experiment by using a fruit juice of your choice! Ready-made options will speed up this process and ensure you don’t spend your days in the kitchen squeezing the juice out of the real fruit.
FairPrice Housebrand has a wide range of quality drinks, hotpot ingredients and sauces available at affordable prices. Go all out at home with peace of mind knowing that you can always buy more for your hungry guests without breaking the bank!
Shop for all the ingredients and more Chinese New Year essentials here. Happy Chinese New Year!