Do you love going out for hot pot but wish you could recreate that mouthwatering broth and dipping sauces at home? With just a few simple ingredients and techniques, you can make restaurant-quality hot pot sauce right in your own kitchen.
The key to great hot pot sauce is balance – you want umami flavor, a touch of heat, acidity, sweetness, and aromatics all working together in harmony. For the umami, mix soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and a dash of MSG if you have it on hand. For heat, add a teaspoon or two of chili oil and crushed red pepper flakes. Rice vinegar and a spoonful of honey will provide acidity and sweetness. Garlic, ginger, scallions, and cilantro are classic hot pot aromatics that brighten up the sauce.
Combine everything in a bowl and adjust amounts to taste. The sauce can be served straight as a dip, or you can thin it out with some broth from your hot pot. Now you can enjoy restaurant-quality hot pot from the comfort of home anytime. Dip in your favorite proteins and veggies, and get ready for some serious flavor!
Gather Your Hot Pot Sauce Ingredients
The key to great hot pot sauce is balance – you want umami flavor, a touch of heat, acidity, sweetness, and aromatics all working together. Here are the essential ingredients to have on hand:
- Soy sauce – for saltiness and umami
- Oyster sauce – adds more umami richness
- Sesame oil – nutty aroma and flavor
- MSG (optional) – enhances umami even more
- Chili oil – provides a touch of heat
- Crushed red pepper flakes – extra heat and vibrance
- Rice vinegar – acidity to balance out richer flavors
- Honey – a touch of sweetness to round everything out
- Garlic – fundamental aromatic
- Ginger – another hot pot essential aromatic
- Scallions – bright, fresh flavor
- Cilantro – classic hot pot herb
Make the Base Sauce
Start by combining ingredients that will make up the base of your hot pot sauce:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon MSG (optional)
Whisk together until smooth and combined. This forms the foundation of flavor for your sauce.
Next, amp up the heat level by adding spicy ingredients:
- 1-2 teaspoons chili oil
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Start on the lower end with just 1 teaspoon chili oil and 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes. You can always add more later if you want more heat. The right
Include Sweetness and Acidity
Balance out the savory, salty, and spicy flavors with sweetness and acidity:
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
Rice vinegar adds a bright punch, while honey balances it out with subtle sweetness.
Mix in Aromatics
No hot pot sauce is complete without pungent aromatics. Add these fresh ingredients:
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
The garlic, ginger, scallions, and cilantro will all infuse the sauce with that quintessential hot pot flavor.
Thicken It Up
For a thicker, richer dipping sauce, mix together 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. Slowly pour this slurry into the sauce while whisking vigorously to incorporate. The cornstarch will provide more viscosity.
Customize the Sauce to Your Taste
Part of the fun of hot pot is customizing your sauce! Taste as you go, and feel free to adjust any ingredient amounts to your preferences. Like it extra spicy? Add more chili oil. Want more tang? Use a bit more vinegar. It’s your hot pot party – make that sauce your own!
Thin Out the Sauce with Broth
When ready to serve, you can thin out the sauce by stirring in a few tablespoons of hot broth from your hot pot. This creates more of a soup-like dipping sauce. Add broth until you reach the desired consistency.
Extra Sauce Ideas
Once you have the basic formula down, there are endless ways to tweak and customize your hot pot sauce. Here are some fun ideas:
- Add a spoonful of nut butter for creamy richness
- Mix in miso paste for more savory umami
- Use sambal instead of chili oil for Southeast Asian flair
- Swap in lime juice for a citrusy kick
- Throw in some toasted sesame seeds for extra crunch
- Mix in a dash of fish sauce for an added salty note
- Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce for a nutty taste
The possibilities are endless, so get creative! Play around until you find your ultimate hot pot sauce.
A flavorful hot pot sauce is meant for dipping! Set it out in small bowls along with an array of proteins, vegetables, noodles, and dumplings. Let guests mix and match their customized sauce as they please. Some tasty dippers include:
- Thinly sliced beef
- Pork wontons
- Bok choy
- Vermicelli noodles
- Fish balls
The cooking broth itself also absorbs those flavors, so ladle some into your dipping sauce as well!
Hot pot sauce will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. The aromatics may lose some vibrance over time, so it’s best freshly made. You can store the base (soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili oil, etc.) separately from the aromatics for longer shelf life, then mix them when ready to serve.
You can also freeze hot pot sauce for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using. Add a splash of vinegar or water to refresh it.
FAQs about Making Hot Pot Sauce
1. What’s the best oil to use in hot pot sauce?
Sesame oil is traditional and provides great Asian flavor. Chili oil also works well. Vegetable, peanut, or rice bran oil are neutral options. Use an oil with a high smoke point so it doesn’t burn.
2. Do I need a lot of fancy ingredients to make good hot pot sauce?
Not at all! You can make a tasty sauce with basic pantry items like soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and chili flakes. Oyster sauce, hoisin, rice wine, etc. add more depth but aren’t essential.
3. What’s the difference between hot pot sauce and dipping sauce?
Hot pot sauce is usually more diluted with broth so it can be ladled into the cooking pot. Dipping sauce is thicker for dipping cooked ingredients. But you can adjust the ratios to make either one!
4. How important is MSG in hot pot sauce?
MSG boosts umami flavor but isn’t necessary. If you have it, a small sprinkle enhances the sauce. But you can get great flavor without it.
5. Should I make hot pot sauce mild or spicy?
That’s up to you! Add chili oil and peppers to your taste preference. Mild enough for kids or extra spicy for chili heads – the beauty of DIY sauce is customizing the heat level.
The Joy of Homemade Hot Pot
One of the best parts of hot pot is the interactive, social experience. Now you can recreate that restaurant-style flavor in your own home. Making your own hot pot sauce may take some trial and error to perfect, but you’ll end up with a customized sauce you love.
Get your broth simmering, gather an assortment of ingredients, whip up a batch of this easy homemade sauce, and invite your family and friends over for a fun hot pot meal! Just be prepared for requests to share your secret sauce recipe after they get a taste. Enjoy!