The Trusted China Travel Agency
Hot pot (火锅 huǒguō /hwor-gwor/ ‘fire-pot’) has been enjoyed in China since at least the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE), and by the time of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912 CE), even Chinese emperors were enjoying the dish. It is even said that the sixth Qing emperor, known as the Qianlong Emperor, would have hot pot for nearly every meal. More than 1,500 hot pots were said to be served at a banquet hosted by the Jiaqing Emperor (r. 1796 – 1820 CE) at his coronation.
Hot pot, as a traditional Chinese folk dish, can be found throughout China. There are different styles of hot pot with differently flavored broths in China, from spicy hot pot in Sichuan, seafood-based hot pot in Guangdong, instant-boiled lamb hot pot in Beijing, to sauerkraut hot pot in northeastern China, stewed sheep hot pot in Henan, and mutton hot pot in Hong Kong.
No matter what you preference is, Chinese hot pot has something to interest you.
Where to Find the Best Hot Pot for You
The spicy hot pot featured in Sichuan is probably the most famous among the native Chinese. When your Yangtze River cruise stops in Chongqing, or neighboring Sichuan province, you will have a great opportunity to taste some authentic Chinese hot pot there.
Chingqing hot pot is known as má là (麻辣 – “numb and spicy”) thanks to the inclusion of Sichuan peppers. Chonqing hot pot is unique in the types of meat used (often mutton fillets) and the type of sauce used for its base.
In the north of China, Manchurian hot pot (東北酸菜火鍋 in Mandarin) includes saurcraut, or suan cai, making for a more sour stew. Cantonese hot pot might include a raw egg, lessening the spiciness of the dish. If you find yourself in Hainan province, you’ll notice hot pot served in smaller woks with the meat not completely cooked, making it necessary to wait about 15 minutes before enjoying the food, which can include beef or mutton, lettuce and other green vegetables.
Although the flavor of Chinese hot pot varies from region to region, the dining customs are similar. Hot pot is typically served in a simmering metal bowl at the center of the dining table. As the soup in the pot simmers, the ingredients are added into the boiling broth. The ingredients in the hot pot can vary from thinly-sliced meat, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, potatoes, and cabbage, to seafood, fish balls, tofu, blood tofu and shrimp. The cooked food is usually served with a dipping sauce of different flavors, from sesame sauce, garlic sauce to seafood sauce.
Hot pot has become a favorite dish among Chinese people, which is particularly true during colder winter months.
How is Chinese Hot Pot made?
1. Prepare the broth in a large pot
- Fry the bones with oil, pepper and seasonings first and then add water to the pot.
- Stew the bones with some seasoning herbs in the pot until the flavor of meat and seasonings are fully integrated into the broth.
2. Place an electric heating plate on the table to heat the soup
Place it in the center of the dining table to ensure that everything on the table could be accessed by each diner.
3. Slice a variety of meats thinly to be cooked in the hot pot
Slicing the meat thinly will ensure that the ingredients will cook quickly and completely. Choose from beef, pork, fish fillets, squid, and shrimp.
4. Prepare vegetables and other side dishes
Choose any leafy greens, such as spinach, cabbage, mushroom, potatoes, etc. For side dishes, tofu, blood tofu, fish balls, noodles made from beans or sweet potato starch are all great choices.
5. Prepare condiments for the sauce to dip the ingredients
The sauce mainly includes soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin sauce (a common sauce in Chinese cuisine made from soy beans, fennel seeds, garlic, and red chilies), sesame oil and sweet chili sauce.
6. Prepare some noodles alongside the hot pot as a side dish
Use the broth to cook the noodles at the end of the meal with some vegetables boiled together.
How do I eat Chinese hot pot?
As the broth boils, use your chopsticks to dip ingredients into it until they are cooked to your taste. Add ingredients to the broth one at a time, based on how long they take to cook. begin wth those ingredients which takes the longest to cook–fish and meat, followed by the thin-sliced meats and vegetables.
find a dipping sauce you like, and enjoy!