Hot pot is the Chinese equivalent of fondue – a communal pot of broth set on a portable burner at the table, set to cook everything from meat to mushrooms. Huan Xi (2428 N. Murray Ave., 414-906-8888) took the leap to hot pot last year (and karaoke, which you can do after hot-potting!). Don’t be intimidated by the nine soup bases and 100 ingredients offered at this restaurant. You can’t order wrong if you aim for a combo of protein, vegetables and carbs. A couple key tips: Wait for the broth to boil before cooking anything. And keep the chopsticks you’ve used to dunk raw meat separate from the sticks you’re eating with. More hot pot wisdom below:
- Mushrooms – including king oyster, button, enoki and coral – are a great choice for hot pot. Just ease them into the pot (no splashing). They cook quickly.
- Hearty greens like bok choy are another favorite. They absorb the broth beautifully, taking just seconds to soften. Try dipping your cooked greens in sesame sauce.
- A divider allows the pot to hold two broths at the same time. Once you’ve cooked your ingredients, ladle the soup into a small bowl, grab your chopsticks and enjoy!
- Cook your carbs last. Left too long in the pot, they’ll turn gluey. Right: thick to thin noodles and dumplings, at the ready.
- Use a condiment like hot chili to amplify the flavor of your dipping sauce – great with cooled meats.
- Cook the balls of shrimp, fish and pork first. Carefully drop them right into the pot. You’ll know they’re ready when they float at the surface. Cubed tofu and tempura just need to be warmed. Paper-thin sliced meats like pork will cook quickly when you dip them in with your chopsticks.
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