Discover the most popular hot pot spices
A hot pot is a Chinese communal meal in which diners cook raw ingredients at the table in a simmering broth. Spices and seasonings are an essential part of the hot pot experience, as they enhance the flavor of the ingredients and the broth. Here are some of the most popular hot pot spices:
Sichuan pepper is a key ingredient in Chinese cuisine that adds a unique, tingling sensation to hot pot dishes. Despite the name, Sichuan pepper is not really a pepper but rather a berry that is native to China’s Sichuan province. It has a lemony and slightly numbing flavor that complements the spiciness of chili peppers. You can purchase Sichuan pepper at specialty spice shops or online.
Chili peppers are the most common spice used in Chinese hot pot dishes. They come in various forms, including fresh, dried, pickled, and powdered. The level of heat can vary depending on the type and amount of chili pepper used, so it’s important to use them judiciously. Make sure to wash your hands after handling chili peppers to avoid getting the spice in your eyes or mouth.
Doubanjiang, or spicy bean paste, is a savory and sweet condiment made from fermented soybeans, chili peppers, and other spices. It has a pungent and umami flavor that pairs well with meat, seafood, and vegetables in hot pot dishes. You can find doubanjiang at Asian supermarkets or online.
Garlic and Ginger
Garlic and ginger are aromatic herbs that add depth and complexity to hot pot broths. Garlic has a pungent and slightly spicy flavor that can cut through the richness of meat and seafood, while ginger adds a warm and slightly sweet note to the broth. To use garlic and ginger in a hot pot, simply smash and peel the cloves and slices of ginger and add them to the broth.
Star Anise and Cinnamon
Star anise and cinnamon are common spices used in Chinese hot pot dishes, especially those that feature a braised or stewed broth. Star anise has a strong, licorice-like flavor that can be overpowering if used in excess, while cinnamon has a sweet and warm taste that can balance out the heat of chili peppers. You can also add other whole spices such as cloves and bay leaves to the broth for extra flavor.