Singaporeans are die-hard foodies. We go to extremes to savour the best version of our favourite dishes. Recently, the hotpot craze is becoming part of this Singaporean pastime. Long queues outside hotpot restaurants like Hai Di Lao and Suki-Ya are becoming a common sight. But nothing beats organising a hotpot gathering of your own within the comforts of your home. Besides avoiding the monstrous queues and narrow seats, you even get to sit around longer without worrying about seat-hogging.
So if you are new to cooking and have no clue how to prepare a hotpot of your own, we’re here to help! Here are some tips to organise your own Singaporean hotpot gathering with ease.
Getting the right hotpot cooker
Die-hard fans love their hotpot over a portable gas stove that allows you to control the flames at very specific intensities. But if you are new to cooking and want to avoid the fuss of cleaning up an after-meal stove or replacing the gas canisters after every meal, then get yourself an induction cooker. It cooks quickly, is easy to clean and has a lot more cooking settings as compared to your traditional gas stove.
The soul of the hotpot: A good broth
One of the reasons why hotpot has such a strong appeal is for the variety of broths. The most popular broth in Singapore is the ChongQing Hotpot. Singaporeans love their spicy food so it is no surprise why we have fallen for the numbingly hot broth made of chilli and several spices. But if spicy is not your thing, you can also try another popular broth, the Japanese Suki-Yaki. For something slightly sweeter, you can also try the sister dish, Shabu-Shabu.
Other common broth flavours include tomato, mushroom, shrimp and salted vegetables.
The body of the hotpot: The ingredients
Meat: The heart of the ingredients lies in the meat. Sliced meat such as beef, pork, chicken or even lamb is often used in hotpots. Sliced fish is also a common meat type but might be at odds with certain broth flavours such as Suki-Yaki (or at least, that’s my personal take). You can include other seafood as well, such as clams, prawns, abalone or mussels.
Mushrooms: You should pick mushrooms based on the texture you like to chew on. For example, if you prefer a noodle-like texture you can go with the enoki or if you want something thicker and with some flavour of its own, you can go for the shiitake. Other common mushrooms include button, straw (our personal favourite), and king oyster.
Vegetables: Common hotpot vegetables include napa cabbages, baby bok choy, carrots, spinach, winter melon, and corn. These will be enough to get you started with a decent meal but if you want more variety, you could include stronger flavours such as pumpkin and taro.
Pre-Cooked Seafood: Like most soupy Asian dishes, fish balls and other pre-cooked seafood are a regular feature in hotpots. If you are unsure of which one to choose, Dodo has a good selection of common fish cakes.
Noodles: Noodles come in many shapes and sizes but only a few go well in a hotpot. Singaporeans tend to prefer instant noodles, glass noodles and udon noodles to go with their soup and ingredients.
Sauces for the extra zing~!
The broth is enough to make the ingredients taste good but if you are looking for extra zing, you could try some of the common hotpot dipping sauces like chilli padi sauce or oyster sauce.
Let’s not forget the drinks!
No hotpot experience is complete without a good selection of drinks on-hand. All the heat is bound to get you sipping on a nice cold drink to cool down your taste buds. Shopee has a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at a good price if you are looking for a quick and easy way to acquire your beverages.
If you are feeling lazy…Shopee has another answer
Let’s be honest, preparing meals can be tedious and if all of this information is too much for you to handle, no worries, we still have you covered. Introducing the Instant Noodles of Hotpot: The Self-Heat Lazy Mala Hotpot. It comes with a heat pack and a few other condiments to prepare your mini-hotpot experience within a matter of minutes! Although I would advise trying the actual thing since this is just a little snippet of the unique flavours that a genuine hotpot can provide.
Be in good company
With everything prepared, the final (and most important) touch would be the presence of good company. It can be as intimate as a 1-on-1 meal or as big as a reunion between family and friends. The beauty of hotpot is that unlike à la carte meals, you get to chit-chat while preparing a meal together. Bonus points if you find someone who loves the same flavours as you do!
Armed with the above guide, it’s time to set forth and plan a hotpot gathering with your buddies real soon!