How To: Hot Pot at Home

Skip to Recipe

More than just Sichuan's favorite dish (some locals eat it at least once a week!), hot pot is a way of life. It's said that the boiling cauldron of spicy soup wards off diseases, as the sweat you inevitably break into cools down your body from the inside and protects you from the dampness caused by Sichuan's humid climate. Consumed at restaurants or at home with family and friends, locals sit around a bubbling pot teeming with chili peppers, golden tallow, herbs, and spices and languidly cook a feast of ingredients washed down with baijiu, Chinese grain liquor.

Hot pot is served all over China, but what makes Sichuan hot pot special is its focus on the soup base over the dipping sauces. The soup base is a complex layering of flavors built upon a base of rich beef tallow, doubanjiang, chili oil, and up to a dozen spices and medicinal herbs thrown in for good measure.

Hosting your own hot pot night at home could not be easier these days with so many ready-made soup bases on the market. Fly By Jing’s Hot Pot Base is the first all-natural soup concentrate in the United States that's small-batch crafted in Chengdu. It has all the myriad spices and herbs that are impossible to get here and brings the flavors of Sichuan to your home in minutes. For all the flavor it packs, you'd be surprised to know it's vegan. But for those of you who want to try your hand at building a hot pot base from scratch, particularly the Chengdu version with beef tallow, this recipe is a good starting point. If you haven’t made hot pot at home I highly recommend starting with our hot pot set!

This essential hot pot guide can be found in The Book of Sichuan Chili Crisp. Jing Gao’s debut cookbook traverses the “not traditional but personal” Sichuan flavors of Fly By Jing’s cult favorite spicy and savory chili crisp through 85 hot recipes for everything from dumplings to cocktails to desserts.

table spread of hot pot ingredients and hot pot in the center
Ingredients Soup Base
  • 4 or 5 pieces / 1.75 oz dried chili pepper

  • ¼ cup / 20g whole Sichuan pepper

  • 2 or 3 pieces star anise

  • 1 or 2 pieces cassia bark

  • 4 or 5 bay leaves

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tsp ground fennel

  • ½ tsp ground cloves

  • 2 black cardamom pods

  • 1 cup / 240ml Sichuan rapeseed oil or soybean oil

  • 1 cup / 250g beef tallow or Sichuan rapeseed oil

  • 2 Tbsp minced ginger

  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic

  • 3 or 4 scallions, green and white parts only, chopped

  • ½ cup / 135g doubanjiang

  • ¼ cup / 60g Sichuan Chili Crisp

  • ½ cup / 120ml Shaoxing wine

  • 1 piece (10g) rock sugar

  • 10 pieces dried chili pepper

  • 1 Tbsp whole Sichuan pepper

  • 5 cups / 1.2L chicken stock, or as needed

Hot Pot Ingredients
  • Raw, thinly sliced meats (such as beef, pork, and lamb); available presliced at most Asian grocery stores

  • Raw seafood (such as shrimp, fish balls, squid, crab legs, and fish slices)

  • Heartier vegetables (such as potatoes, lotus root, daikon radishes, and pumpkin), sliced

  • Mushrooms (such as shiitake, enoki, oyster, and wood ear), cut into bite-sized pieces

  • Tofu products (regular, frozen, dried, or fried puffs), cut into bite-sized pieces

  • Seaweed in sheets, slices, or knots

  • Quail eggs, boiled and peeled

  • Leafy greens (such as sweet potato leaves, napa cabbage, spinach, and chrysanthemum. greens)

  • Starches (such as sweet potato noodles, vermicelli, konjac noodles)

Dipping Sauce Bar
  • Sichuan Chili Crisp

  • Light soy sauce

  • Black vinegar

  • Toasted sesame oil

  • Fermented tofu (furu)

  • Satay sauce

  • Sesame paste

  • Oyster sauce

  • Lots of chopped scallions

  • Lots of chopped cilantro leaves

  • Lots of minced garlic

  • MSG


Make the soup base: In a spice grinder or a food processor, coarsely grind the chili pepper, Sichuan pepper, star anise, cassia bark, bay leaves, cumin, fennel, cloves, and cardamom pods. Or save the work and use Fly By Jing's Fire Hot Pot Base!

In a large wok or frying pan over medium heat, warm the rapeseed oil and tallow. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallions and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes Add the doubanjiang and chill crisp and stir for another minute. Add the coarse spice blend, wine, rock sugar, Sichuan pepper, chili peppers, and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes. Pour the whole mixture into a heatproof container and set aside to cool.

To prepare the hot pot ingredients: Wash, chop, and place all the ingredients on serving plates and in bowls. Place a portable gas stove on your table and set a large, shallow pot in the center of the stove with the ingredients arranged around it. OR use a hot pot!

Prepare to feast: Place the soup base into the soup pot over high heat, add the stock, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat to medium for a gentle rolling boil.

Invite your guests to mix their own dipping sauce of choice. The most basic dipping sauce in Sichuan is pure sesame oil with equal parts garlic, but I like to add soy sauce, vinegar, fermented tofu, chili crisp, scallions, and cilantro to mine as well.

Use long chopsticks or a slotted spoon to dunk ingredients into the pot to cook. Certain items, such as the quail eggs, lotus root, and tofu skin, can be cooked longer. Others, such as the leafy greens and thinly sliced meats, will cook very fast-just a light blanching will do.

As you feast, the liquid in the hot pot will evaporate over time, so be sure to add more stock or water to it. The broth will only get better over time, as you cook more and more ingredients in it!