Buying a pre-packaged hot pot soup base is becoming more popular these days, especially as these products become more widely available. In this article, we’ll talk more about this ingredient and how to use it.
What Is a Hot Pot Soup Base?
Hot Pot (huǒguō, 火锅) is a Chinese cooking method and type of meal involving a simmering pot of soup in the middle of a dining table with a variety of raw ingredients (meat, seafood, mushrooms, vegetables, tofu, noodles/starch, etc.).
The pot of broth is kept simmering, and the raw ingredients are then dipped and cooked in the boiling liquid at the table by each individual diner (almost like a Chinese fondue, sans cheese).
Pre-packaged Hot Pot soup bases (huǒguō dǐ liào, 火锅底料) make preparing a hot pot meal at home much easier, because hot pot broths can be quite complex in flavor. They come in small packets of different varieties––soup bases for Mongolian Hot Pot, Seafood Hot Pot, Spicy Sichuan Hot Pot, etc. A well-stocked Chinese market will have many varieties!
Ingredients can include chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, fermented bean paste, sugar, and other spices.
How Is It Used?
You can certainly use hot pot soup bases to make hot pot, simply by dissolving the contents of the packet in water to make the hot pot broth.
However, we sometimes use hot pot soup base in other dishes, as a base for a sauce or seasoning for a stir-fry, to which we add other aromatics, pastes/sauces, and spices. An example of this is our Spicy Numbing Stir-fry Dry Pot (Ma La Xiang Guo).
Buying & Storing
You’ll find hot pot soup bases in Chinese grocery stores. The type we use most often is the spicy Sichuan flavor.
They come in small plastic packets, usually to make one large pot of broth.
If using the soup base for a stir-fry, you’ll usually only need a couple tablespoons. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Use within 1 week, as long as it hasn’t been contaminated by any raw meat, unclean utensils, etc.
You can also freeze the leftover soup base in an airtight container, or in smaller individually portioned containers. Simply thaw in the refrigerator and use as normal.
Our Favorite Recipes Using This Ingredient
- Sichuan Hot Pot
- Spicy Numbing Stir-fry Dry Pot (Ma La Xiang Guo)
If you have further questions about hot pot soup bases, let us know in the comments.
Homemade Sichuan Hot Pot Soup Base
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 slices ginger
- 3-5 bay leaves
- 10 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 star anise
- 10 cloves (smashed)
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
- 12 whole dried red chilies
- 2 1/2 tablespoons spicy bean paste (la doubanjiang)
- 12-15 cups chicken stock (or vegetable/mushroom stock)
- In a wok over medium heat, add the oil and the ginger. Cook the ginger for about a minute until caramelized, taking care not to burn it.
- Add the bay leaves, garlic, cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves. Cook for another 2 minutes, until very fragrant.
- Add the Sichuan peppercorns, dried chilies (whole), and the spicy bean paste.
- Cook for another 2 minutes, and then add the stock. Bring to a boil and transfer to the pot (it should be relatively wide and shallow) you’ll be using for your hot pot meal.