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No Sweet Sour: Yunnan Mushroom Hotpot

Author: By Michelle Zhao @nosweetsour | The Mala Market


Mushroom Hotpot Broth

  • 20 grams dried porcini mushroom, divided
  • 20 grams dried shiitake mushroom, divided
  • cups warm water for soaking/stock base
  • 1 large free-range chicken leg quarter, bone-in halved
  • 25 grams peeled ginger, sliced thickly
  • ½ teaspoon whole Sichuan pepper
  • 2 green onions, divided
  • 1 Chinese black cardamom pod (caoguo) optional
  • 8 dried Chinese dates (jujube)
  • 1 large tomato, sliced into six wedges
  • 200 grams fresh enoki mushrooms, divided approx. 7 ounces
  • 200 grams fresh clamshell (beech) mushrooms, divided approx. 7 ounces
  • 200 grams fresh eryngii (king oyster) mushrooms, divided approx. 7 ounces
  • and/or an assortment of wild mushrooms if in season and available

Yunnan Style Hotpot Dipping Sauce

  • sesame oil
  • fermented beancurd in chili oil
  • garlic, minced
  • fresh cilantro leaves (xiangcai)
  • green onion, sliced thin
  • oyster sauce to taste
  • salt to taste
  • MSG to taste
  • toasted chili powder (toasted ground chilies) optional
  • Thai bird's eye chili pepper, finely chopped optional
  • 3-4 tablespoons hotpot broth


Mushroom Hotpot Broth

  • Divide the dried porcini and shiitake into 10 gram portions. In a bowl, soak 10 grams of porcini and 10 grams of shiitake with 300ml warm water for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the stock. Using a spice grinder, grind the remaining 10 grams of porcini and 10 grams of shiitake into a fine powder.
  • In a stockpot, add 2 liters of cold water. Add the chicken thigh, ginger, Sichuan peppercorn, black cardamom pod and one green onion. Bring to a boil, skimming off and discarding any foam. Add the reserved mushroom stock. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for 40 minutes.
  • Strain and discard all aromatics from the broth, keeping the chicken only. Add the porcini and shiitake mushroom powder, stirring to dissolve. Bring back to a boil, then simmer for five minutes. Season with salt to taste.
  • Transfer the stock base into the hotpot. Add Chinese dates, tomato slices, remaining green onion, and 100 grams each of the whole fresh enoki, beech and king oyster mushrooms. Boil again, continuing to cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining mushrooms throughout the meal and enjoy!

Yunnan Style Hotpot Dipping Sauce

  • Combine all of the ingredients together in a dipping bowl. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the hotpot broth just before serving and mix well. Each person can decide on the ratio of each ingredient depending on their tastes.


Select free range chicken for the broth. Do not overly complicate the spices in the hotpot base. Avoid using spices such as star anise, clove and cinnamon in this type of hotpot. Use your hands to shred the mushrooms instead of using a knife, especially if you are handling mushrooms such as termite mushroom or oyster mushroom. Slicing these types of mushrooms affects the texture.
***SAFETY FIRST*** When eating mushroom hotpot in Yunnan, restaurants set a timer on the table to boil for at least 20 minutes after any wild mushrooms have been added, until they are safe to consume. This ensures all the wild mushrooms are cooked to eliminate the chance of someone getting mushroom poisoning. You do not need to do this for store-bought mushrooms, but if you are foraging for your own, please follow suit or consume at your own risk. If you have a two-sided hotpot, you can still eat and enjoy the spicy side of the hotpot. If you only have one broth option, simply add the wild mushrooms early on, before inviting everyone to the table.
Fresh seafood, lamb, pork and beef are not recommended in wild mushroom hotpot because the gamey flavors can overpower the delicate mushroom broth. Instead, reserve your meat and seafood add-ins for the spicy side of your divided yin-yang hotpot!
- Thinly sliced pork belly or beef tenderloin. Freeze the meat for 30 minutes before cutting with a sharpened knife. Cut the beef tenderloin across the grain. Dip the meat in the boiling broth for about 9-10 seconds until any pinkness disappears. 
- All sorts of frozen meatballs, fish cakes and crab sticks. 
- Tofu products such as firm tofu, dried tofu sheets, puff tofu. The trick to make the firm tofu more juicy is cutting the tofu into large cubes, then freezing the tofu cubes. The moisture inside the tofu will expand during the freezing process, creating bubbles that will soak up the broth and all of its delicious flavors. 
- Chinese radish (daikon). I like to cook them for a bit longer to get a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Lotus root, one of my must-haves when having hotpot. Cut in 1 cm wide slices, then cook for no more than 3 minutes for a crunchy texture.
- Tomatoes and leafy vegetables such as bokchoy, lettuce and celtuce. I like to add tomatoes to my hotpot broth as a natural MSG to boost flavor. 
- Rice cakes. In Yunnan, 饵块 (ěrkuài) is popular to add in hotpot meal as a carb. I substitute er'kuai with frozen store-bought rice cakes or Korean rice cakes. 
- Sweet potato noodles or potato noodles. It is the most satisfying way of ending a hotpot meal. Pre-soak the noodles in the cold water before cooking. Cook starchy ingredients (noodles, potatoes, sweet potatoes) toward the end of a hotpot meal, to avoid the starch inside the noodles from thickening and spoiling the hotpot broth. Adding the meaty ingredients at the beginning of a hotpot meal will result in a flavorful broth towards the end.