Making hot pot great again!

One of the highlight’s at this year’s Copenhagen Cooking is the chance to acquaint yourself with one of Asian cuisine’s most popular new fads

In less ominous terms than the leader of the world’s largest democracy, entrepreneur turned cooking-maestro Fanshuang Kong of Hot Pot Republic borrows Donald Trump’s famous line and promises to “make hot pot great again”.

The mergers and acquisitions analyst isn’t promising to restore America to its Golden Days, but makes a more appealing – and plausible – pitch to the residents of Copenhagen: come and learn about Asian hot pot this August.

Confucian sensibilities
Indeed, Confucian cultures of sociability have informed the nature of hot pot in Asia for hundreds of years. It remains one of the most popular choices in these countries today, but it has also become a ubiquitous player in North America and across Europe. In London, for instance, there are well over a dozen restaurants specialising in hot pot cuisine – a number that is set to rise.

For those new to the game, a serving of hot pot tends to include two broths. Hungry diners are then invited to place all sorts of food items in these rich and variant soups and allow them to simmer in front of their eyes, quickly hoisting them out when they’re cooked.

Find your favourites
It’s hard to emphasise enough the possible scope here. As well as trying all range of vegetables – my personal favourites being taro, butternut squash and spinach – the different pairings with the various broths makes for a range of markedly contrasting tastes. The spinach goes especially well with the curry broth, for instance, while the mushrooms were more suited to the tomato soup. Subjectivity is the lynchpin of the hot pot experience: play around, find your favourites.

The meat offers no less room for manoeuvre. Thinly sliced beef ensures it tends to be the first out; spicy or mild, the emerging pieces can either wait for their vegetable counterparts or be consumed solo.

Long live the Republic
Kong certainly respects the example offered by the hot pot conglomerates around the world, but this isn’t to say Hot Pot Republic doesn’t have its own twist on the brand. I’d certainly never come across the satay-meets-tahini-esque sauce that accompanied the meal from start to finish before. Fresh garlic was added to the nutty offering, and it was soon lathered on everything being eaten.

A failing of the hot pot can be the flavour of the broth – a risk Kong has safely avoided. The standout of the night was a spicy broth with over ten different spices and herbs added for seasoning. A homemade spicy add-on was available for those in need of a further kick, and it seemed to complement everything dunked its way.

And healthy too
Given the ultimate gluttony of the hot pot, it’s at first hard to believe the dish is in fact very healthy. The whole thing is composed of incredibly low carbohydrate and gluten foods, which if you so choose could be entirely composed of fresh root vegetables.

It seems surprising, given Copenhagen’s gastronomical status – a well-deserved one at that – that there’s no hot pot restaurant yet making waves in the capital. Kong promises to change this, and if you get in quick they’re still places to attend their events on both August 20 and 22.

Find out more here.