Chinese Hot Pot by Jeff Mao

Jeff Mao was a longtime employee of the Maine Department of Education, and he is now turning to cooking education. He has recently published a book – Essential Chinese Hot Pot Cookbook – and he’s also been working on videos and a podcast with Chris Toy! 

Here are two broth recipes that go hand-in-hand, and check out our video for how to eat Hot Pot!


Mandarin Duck Clear Broth

Contrary to its name, there is no duck in this broth – it’s vegan. Mandarin ducks mate for life, so they are associated with a well-matched pair. A “Mandarin Duck Pot” refers to a split hot pot, with a spicy Sichuan-style broth on one side and this mild broth on the other for the perfect pairing.


5 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

2 Tbsp Neutral Oil (vegetable, canola, safflower)

5 cloves Garlic, finely chopped

6 Scallions, both green and white parts divided

5 Slices peeled fresh Ginger (¼” thick)

10 C Water

8 Dried Chinese Red Dates

1 Tbsp Dried Goji Berries

1 Tbsp Sugar

2 teasp Salt (or salt substitute)

  1. In a small bowl, cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water. Cover and set aside.
  2. In a stockpot, heat the oil over low heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic, white part of the scallions (chopped) and ginger. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally so the garlic doesn’t brown.
  3. Add the mushrooms and their liquid, the water and the dates to the stockpot. Cover and simmer on low heat for 1 hour.
  4. Strain the broth and discard the solids. Transfer to the Hot Pot.
  5. Just before serving, slice the green parts of the scallions into 1” pieces, and add to the broth along with the goji berries, sugar and salt.


Sichuan Red Ma La Broth
This is the most popular hot pot broth in China originating in the central province of Sichuan. Famous for its iconic red color, this broth has a fiery spiciness and unique mouth-numbing quality known as Ma La (málà, ??). Pair this with another non-spicy broth like the Mandarin Duck Clear Broth to balance out the heat.

1 to 3 C Whole dried red Sichuan chilis

4 Tbsp Red Sichuan peppercorns

2 Bay Leaves

1 Tbsp Chinese Five Spice Powder

2 C Neutral Oil (vegetable, canola, safflower)

½ C Scallions, both white and green parts, chopped

3 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped

6 cloves Garlic, finely chopped

6 Tbsp Sichuan Chili Flakes

¼ C Fermented Black Beans (dòuch?, ??)

5 Tbsp Sichuan Broad Bean Chili Paste

10 C Beef Stock

½ C Shaoxing wine

2 Black Cardamom Pods

2 Tbsp Sugar

1 teasp Salt 

  1.     In a medium bowl, soak the dried chilis in boiling water for at least 30 minutes.
  2.     In a spice grinder, grind the peppercorns and bay leaves to form a medium ground powder. Transfer the ground spices to a small bowl and add the five-spice powder and just enough water to cover the spices. Let rest for at least 15 minutes.
  3.     Meanwhile, in a stockpot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the scallions, ginger, and garlic and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Avoid browning the garlic.
  4.     Drain the whole chilis from step 1 and transfer to a cutting board. Remove any stems from the chilis; then mince to a paste-like texture.
  5.     Add the minced chilis, chili flakes, fermented black beans, and chili paste to the stockpot. Stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  6.     Add the stock, ground spices (and soaking water) from step 2, wine, cardamom pods, sugar, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let rest for at least 45 minutes.

Ingredient Tip: The heat in this recipe comes primarily from the dried chili peppers. Use more or less to suit your tastes. To decrease the numbing sensation, decrease the amount of red Sichuan peppercorns. To increase the numbing, substitute some or all of the red Sichuan peppercorns with green Sichuan peppercorns.

Hot Pot Cookbook Cover