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      3 Best Hotpot Dipping Sauces (+ TikTok Viral Sauce)

      One of my all time favorite meals is a hot pot dinner, but the real star of the meal is the dipping sauce. There are a variety of hot pot sauces to choose from, and each combination has a unique flavor profile.

      hotpot sauces

      What is hot pot?

      Hot pot or hotpot is a dish where a simmering pot of broth is placed in the middle of the table on a heat source and various vegetables, thinly sliced meat and noodles are arranged in dishes around the pot.

      The dinner guests take turns adding whatever food items they choose to the pot. The thinly sliced meat is dunked into the broth for several seconds until fully cooked.

      Once the food items are cooking, the dinner guests remove them from the pot and dip them in a sauce of choice. Once most of the meat and vegetables are cooked, noodles are added to the pot and served with leftover broth.

      Popular food items in hot pot include bok choy, napa cabbage, carrots, potato, bean sprouts, mushroom, vermicelli noodles, udon, ramen, tofu, egg and various thinly sliced meat, typically red meat or pork. 

      Origins

      The origins of hot pot are widely debated, but most believe hot pot originated from China. Some trace hot pot all the way back to the Zhou dynasty, over 2000 years ago.

      Since then, hot pot has spread across East Asia with popular varieties found in Japan and Korea. While hot pot has been popular in Korea for hundreds of years, Japanese hot pot or shabu shabu only gained popularity in the last few decades.

      Varieties

      As mentioned above, there are several varieties of hot pot depending on the region. Chinese hot pot typically consists of Sichuan (spicy), Chongqing (rich and creamy) or Mongolian (less spicy) broths. 

      Korean hot pot comes in a few varieties but is typically spicy, similar to Chinese hot pot.

      Japanese hot pot, or shabu shabu also comes in a few varieties. These include sukiyaki (sweet soy), tonkotsu (rich pork-based) and tomato broth. 

      All varieties are served alongside vegetables (mostly greens and mushrooms), thinly sliced meats and noodles or rice cakes. 

      Common hot pot sauce options

      Depending on where you are getting your hot pot, there will be different options at the sauce bar. That being said, most restaurants will have the common ingredients listed below.

      • Soy sauce
      • Dark soy sauce
      • Oyster sauce
      • Hoisin sauce
      • Sesame sauce
      • Fish sauce
      • Rice vinegar
      • Chinese black vinegar
      • Sesame oil
      • Sesame seeds
      • Chili flakes
      • Chili crisp (chili oil)
      • Fresh garlic
      • Green onions
      • Cilantro

      Common hot pot ingredients

      Now that we’ve gone over popular hot pot sauce ingredients, let’s go over common hot pot ingredients. I’ve listed many common ingredients below, divided into three categories.

      Protein:

      Chicken breastPork bellyBrisket
      RoundChuckRibeye
      Short rib

      Vegetable:

      Napa cabbageYu choiSpinach
      Bok choyEnoki mushroomCorn
      PotatoSweet potatoDaikon radish
      Snap peasBroccoliTong ho
      OnionTomato

      Noodle/Other:

      RamenUdonGlass noodles
      Egg noodlesBean curdSoft tofu
      Bean curdFish ballsFish cake
      Raw eggSpamGyoza
      Imitation crab
      hotpot sauces

      3 Best Hotpot Dipping Sauces

      Now let’s move on to the top three best hotpot dipping sauces to try out the next time you are enjoying hot pot. Feel free to adjust these recipes to suit your taste. Add ingredients, subtract, go crazy! 

      #1: Viral TikTok Sauce

      Honestly, this has been my favorite dipping sauce after trying it the first time. It has a nutty flavor with hints of umami and sweetness. It’s just too perfect!

      To make this sauce combine: sesame sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil or sauce, minced garlic, green onion (spring onion), cilantro and white sesame seeds. 

      I’ve seen a few variations of this sauce on TikTok and they all look great. I highly recommend this combination to anyone trying out hot pot for the first time. 

      #2: Spicy Soy Sauce

      If you don’t like a creamy sauce and want something umami with a kick of spiciness you should try this soy-based spicy sauce next time you get hot pot. 

      To make this soy combine: soy sauce, chili oil or chili sauce, chili flakes, oyster sauce and minced garlic.

      From here, you can add green onions and/or cilantro if you so desire. You can also remove the garlic if you don’t like a garlick-y flavor profile.

      #3: Vinegar-Based Sauce

      If you care for something more sour, something to cut the richness of the hot pot ingredients, you can always opt for a vinegar-based sauce like the one below.

      To make this sauce combine: chinese black vinegar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, green onion and sesame seeds. 

      You can also add chili oil to this sauce if you want a bit of a spicy kick to it. And of course garlic is another great addition. 

      hotpot sauces

      How to make sesame sauce

      Sesame sauce is a very popular hotpot dipping sauce that you can find at most hot pot sauce bars. It’s creamy and delicious, with a light sweetness that isn’t overwhelming.

      To make this sauce, you will need the following ingredients. You should be able to find everything at your local Asian market. 

      Ingredients: 

      • 4 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste
      • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
      • 1 tablespoon white sugar
      • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
      • 2 tablespoon dashi broth
      • Pinch of salt

      Instructions:

      In a small bowl, combine the Chinese sesame paste, light soy sauce, white sugar and rice vinegar. Stir well to combine. Slowly pour in the hot dashi broth, stirring constantly.

      Continue to stir until the sauce is fully incorporated. The sauce should be runny and drizzle easily. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and add more dashi broth if it thickens too much in the refrigerator.

      This recipe was adapted from justonecookbook.com.

      How to make ponzu

      Ponzu may not be commonly found at hot pot restaurants, but it’s a staple dipping sauce for Japanese hot pot. It’s basically a citrusy soy-vinegar sauce that pairs wonderfully with stewed meats and vegetables.

      To make this sauce, you will need the following ingredients.

      Ingredients:

      • ½ cup light soy sauce
      • ¼ cup orange juice
      • ¼ cup lemon juice
      • 2 tbsp mirin
      • ½ cup dried bonito flakes
      • 1 piece kombu

      Instructions:

      In a large mason jar, combine all of the ingredients listed above. Let sit in your refrigerator for at least 24 hours or up to one week. 

      Use a strainer to remove the bonito flakes and kombu. Use within one month of making. 

      This recipe was adapted from justonecookbook.com

      Best hotpot bases

      I prefer a Japanese-style hot pot, aka shabu-shabu, so my favorite broths are of Japanese origin. The best hot pot base, in my opinion, is sukiyaki, which is a sweet soy sauce based soup broth. 

      Other good broth choices are tonkotsu, which is a rich pork-based broth and tomato, which is of course a tomato-based broth. Both are rich in umami flavor if that’s your forte. 

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      ABOUT ME

      tia glover rd

      My name is Tia and I am a registered dietitian and content creator.

      My goal is to help young people learn how to eat a nutritious, balanced diet without restriction or giving up cultural foods. 💛

      Hapa/Japanese American 🇺🇸🇯🇵

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