How to Host a Cannabis-Infused Hot Pot Feast
LA chef and cannabis caterer Wendy Zeng shares her expert tips for making hot pot and a recipe for THC-sesame dipping sauce.
For many people all over the world, Lunar New Year sounds like bubbling broth and chopsticks clacking together. It smells like thinly sliced ribeye, fish balls, whole shrimp, Chinese lettuce, and noodles all swimming and simmering in a hot pot of spicy broth, also known as huǒ guō (火锅) or “fire pot.” For Wendy Zeng, the chef who won Food Network’s competitive cannabis cooking show, Chopped 420, Lunar New Year means it’s time for an infused hot pot session. But this is certainly a feast you curate any time of the year.
Zeng spent her childhood in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan in southwest China. These days, though, and she lives in East Los Angeles, where she’s chef-owner of Drizzle, an elevated catering company and cannabis supper club. For cannabis-infused gatherings, Zeng says it’s important to clearly label each weed-enhanced item with “mg per serving” and carefully dose to ensure everyone at every tolerance has a good time.
“Hot pot is all about abundance and variety, so have a range of options to choose from so guests can dose themselves and control their high,” says Zeng. “From cannabis-infused sauces and snacks to beverage and joint pairings, there are many ways to host a cannabis-infused hot pot party.”
Here are Zeng’s expert tips for the ultimate infused hot pot party, as well as her recipe for infused dipping sauce with homemade sesame oil.
Set the table with smokeables
Adorn your table with chic ashtrays and smoking accessories to create an ambiance. Don’t be afraid to splurge on special ones, like hand-blown glass J holders from Elevate Jane. “This way folks can take tableside smoke breaks at their leisure and jump back in when they’ve made room for more hot pot,” suggests Zeng. “Pair a selection of pre-rolls or flower with energetic, euphoric, and creativity-enhancing effects to keep conversations lively.”
Provide plenty of beverages
“It’s not uncommon to have upwards of five beverages during a Chinese celebration dinner, including fresh juice, wine, tea, water, and alcohol,” explains Zeng. For a weed-centric meal, of course, you can provide weed drink options like sparkling seltzers, cannabis tea, and CBD drinks, too. Don’t forget good ol’ water.
Bring infused snacks
“Curate savory and sweet edibles, in addition to non-infused snacks, and create a snack bar for those who want to get a baseline high. Make a spiced nut mix with infused olive oil and honey, sriracha, and Sichuan mala spice blend,” says Zeng. Her other favorites: Potli shrimp chips, TSUMo Snacks x Snoop Dogg’s crispy onion rings.
Make an infused sauce bar
“Have a signature sauce to show off your own flavor and curate a DIY-infused sauce bar for guests to choose their own adventure,” recommends Zeng. “I keep Potli THC olive oil and Hemp Chili Oil, Sessy CBD sesame oil, Qianhe 3 years Cellar Vinegar, chili crisp, my Chili Party Sichian chili oil, minced garlic, and fresh cilantro in my sauce bar.”
Of course, try your hand at making your own with the recipe that follows for cannabis-infused lamei dipping sauce. Young women from Sichuan are affectionately called lamei (辣妹): spicy girls, who are brave, beautiful, feisty, and love spicy food.
Cannabis-Infused Lamei Hot Pot Dipping Sauce
Yields 1 small bowl; serves 1-2 people.
• 1 tablespoon (8g) garlic, finely minced (3 cloves)
• 1 small red chili, minced (bird’s eye for lots of heat or, for mild, use red fresno)
• ½ tablespoon (8g) oyster or hoisin sauce
•2 tablespoon (30g) hot pot broth
• 1 teaspoon (2g) Ajinomoto (MSG) or substitute chicken bouillon powder
• ½ tablespoon (4g) chopped peanuts
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
• 2 tablespoons (27g) cannabis-infused sesame oil (recipe follows)
Cannabis-infused sesame oil:
• ½ cup (109g) sesame oil
• 0.15 grams of cannabis flower (~20% THC)
1. Make infused sesame oil: Preheat the oven to 220°F. Place 0.15 grams of coarsely ground cannabis flower into a small mason jar, seal with the lid, and heat for 40 minutes in the oven to decarb, which activates the THC. Remove from the oven and let cool until the mason jar is safe to touch. The ground flower should look toasted. Pour ½ cup of sesame oil into the mason jar, close the lid, and shake to combine. Recipe makes 8 tablespoons.
2. On the stovetop, bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil, reduce heat to low, and place the mason jar into the pot of simmering water. Make sure the water line is about or slightly above the same level as the oil. Let the mason jar simmer in the pot of water on low-medium heat, keeping the water temp between 160 and 200°F. After 60 minutes, remove the mason jar from the pot and set aside to cool until safe to touch. Pour the infused sesame oil through a fine mesh strainer into a clean jar or bowl, straining out the ground flower and reserving the oil. Label the jar “2 tablespoons = 5mg THC,” and set aside.
3. Mix the sauce: In a separate small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients with 2 tablespoons of infused sesame oil, and stir to mix evenly. Reserve the remaining sesame oil to use for additional sauces. Dip the cooked meats and vegetables into the sauce and enjoy.
Dosing: 0.15 grams of 20% THC flower is used in this recipe for a total of about 20mg THC in the cannabis-infused sesame oil. Two tablespoons of sesame oil contain approximately 5mg THC. For those who are new to edibles and cannabis, it is recommended to start at 5mg THC or less per person.
Hot pot dipping sauce recipe by Wendy Zeng, written and adapted by Christina Wong.