A hot pot is an East Asian dish consisting of raw ingredients like thinly sliced meat and vegetables served with a boiling broth, and usually cooked by the diners at the serving table.
Apart from having delicious flavors, eating hot pot is also a great way of socializing with family and friends. Additionally, hot pot is considered as a healthy meal as its main ingredients are more in fresh vegetables.
History Of Hot Pot
Hot pot, also known as steamboat or soup-food, is a cooking method native to China. It is prepared with a simmering pot that usually contains meat, leaf vegetables, dumplings, fresh seafood, and mushrooms. All these ingredients are raw and ready to be cooked at the dining table.
It is believed that hot pot came first during the tripods of Zhou dynasty. Every honored diner had a bronze pot called ran lu. The main base of ran lun was a little stove, and on top of a burning charcoal is a small pot. And during 200-280 AD, the “Three Kingdoms period”, hot pot made with copper was created. And is mainly recognized as the origin of the hot pot.
Hot pot became famous in the group of emperors during the Qing dynasty. And later on, hot pot became famous and many would love to eat hot pot for almost every meal.
What Are The Common Hot Pot Ingredients?
A hot pot is usually made of basic stock, meats and protein, starches, vegetables, and condiments.
Basic stock is made using spices, salt, and water.
For meats and proteins, they can be thinly sliced lamb, beef, goat, chicken, pork, and other poultry.
Starches may also vary and can include glass noodle, chinese noodles, nian gao, or udon.
For vegetables, these may include napa cabbage, crown daisy, bok choy, spinach, lettuce, carrots, winter melon, daikon, bean sprouts, mushrooms, potatoes and sweet potatoes, cilantro, taro, pumpking, watercress, and haidai/seaweed.
Meanwhile, condiments may include vinegar, soy sauce, cilantro, sesame butter, hoisin sauce, minced garlic, minced ginger, white pepper, chili oil, sesame oil, shacha sauce, and more.
These ingredients may vary depending on the hot pot styles. Below are some of the best hot pot styles from different regions.
Types Of Hot Pot
Chrysanthemum Flower Hot Pot
Chrysanthemum flower hot pot, is a typical type of hot pot that came from the Jiangsu-Zhejiang cuisine. It is made with chicken stock and chrysanthemum flowers cooked in broth to bring the floral essence, and soft and tender flavor.
The “Flower Hot Pot” is also famous in Suzhou and Hangzhou.
Tibetan-Style Hot Pot
The Tibetan Hot Pot is a type of hot pot that is light. It is distinguished by its main ingredient which is yak meat and yak bone for the broth. Other ingredients are some tofu, meatballs, carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables.
It is served with a spicy Tibetan sauce.
Shabu-shabu, a dish native to Japan, is made of thinly sliced meat, tofu, and various vegetables, boiled in water. It is usually served with dipping sauces.
This famous hot pot dish was first introduced in the 20th century in Osaka, Japan during the opening of the hot pot restaurant “Suehiro”, and the name shabu-shabu was invented. It is believed that Shabu-shabu originated from the famous Chinese hot pot called instant-boiled mutton. Thus, shabu-shabu is somewhat similar to the original Chinese version than other Japanese hot pot dishes.
Shabu-shabu has then become one of the common dishes all over Japan, and other neighboring countries like Canada, US, and Taiwan.
To prepare shabu-shabu, submerge the thin sliced meat or a piece of vegetable in a boiling dashi or broth made with kelp (konbu), and continue stirring. Since the meat is thinly sliced, you just need to dip it into the hot broth for a few seconds.
The cooked vegetables and meat are then dipped in sesame seed (goma) or ponzu sauce before consumption. Shabu-shabu is best served with steamed rice.
Spicy and Sour Fish Hot Pot
The Sour-soup-fish-hot pot is a southern hot pot style made of fish. This Sichuan hot pot style’s main ingredients aside from fish, are tomato and rice soup.
This authentic fish sour soup is best served during cold weather. The fish that is commonly used in making sour soup fish hot pot is carp. Other ingredients may include lettuce, parsley, and garlic, red sour soup, cooking oil, pepper, chili paste, sesame oil, soy sauces, dried red chili peppers, and chicken essence.
Coconut Chicken Hot Pot
Coconut hot pot has become a trend in most hot pot restaurants in China. The key ingredient of making the coconut chicken soup taste better is the chicken meat. And from the name itself, its main ingredients are fresh coconut milk and Hainan chicken.
The hot pot base can be consumed as soup since it is made with coconut milk, unlike other Sichuan hot pots that are usually made with fatty oils or butter. Thus, its broth is way healthier than the other hot pot dishes.
Coconut chicken hot pot is best served with some freshly squeezed lime juice and dipping sauces made from soy sauce.
Yunnan Hot Pot
Yunnan hot pot is also one of the famous spicy hot pot dishes in China. Though this hot pot style is an authentic “Chinese” hot pot, it also has a distinct Southeast Asian domination. This hot pot is one of the vegetarians’ choice as it can be eaten even without meat because of its rich broth flavor.
Yunnan also focuses more on fresh vegetables, edible flowers, and various types of mushrooms.
Its aromatic fragrant and spicy broth flavor make it distinct to other hot pot styles. It also comes with a different variety of dipping sauces mixed with chili and sesame oil.
Mint being dominant in Yunnan province, added with flowers and other ingredients, this makes Yunnan hot pot style simply tempting.
Chongqing Hot Pot
Chongqing Hot Pot, the most spicy type of hot pot, is available and eaten at restaurants. It has a similarity to dry stir-dried mala xiang guo.
This hot pot dish started in Jiangbei District, Chongqing in the 1020s.
To prepare the Chongqing, put all the ingredients in the hot pot until cooked, dip the food in sesame oil, then eat.
Chongqing Hot Pot can be made of beef, pork, chicken, beef strips, Chinese sausages, beef strips, duck, instestine, and pig blood.
You can also add seafood, vegetables, different kinds of spices like clove, cinnamon, bay leaf, and other bean products on your Chongqing Hot Pot.
Beijing Hot Pot
Beijing-Style Hot Pot is one of the Northern hot pots that is known to be simple and usually uses copper Mongolian pots. Its main ingredient is a thinly-sliced mutton.
Beijing Hot Pot focuses on ingredient quality rather than its hot pot broth.
To prepare the Beijing-Style hot pot dish, cook the ingredients in a clear or lightly flavored broth, add some goji berries, scallions, and ginger.
You can use chopsticks to up the piece of meat, fish, vegetables, mutton, and other ingredients.
Most of the traditional Beijing hot pot restaurants offer sesame-based dipping sauce called Zhīmajiàng. Its taste is similar to Tahini sauce, but a bit sweeter and stronger than the latter.
Chaoshan Beef Hot Pot
Chaoshan Beef Hot Pot comes from the known culinary region of Chaoshan, Guangdong in Southern China. This hot pot dish is light in taste and is more healthy, compared to Sichuan hot pot. It is also not spicy and greasy.
As its name implies, its main ingredient is beef. Traditional Chaoshan beef hot pot restaurants usually serve fresh beef.
The soup base of the Chaoshan beef hot pot is limited as the dish focuses on its original food flavor and the sweet and sweet beef.
The hot pot broth is usually made with beef bone with a few slices of celery, radish, and water.
Cantonese Hot Pot
Cantonese-style hot pot is a hot pot in China which usually has a seafood base. Unlike other hot pot dishes, it has no spicy flavor. Cantonese-style hot pots can be on water based, fish bone broth, fish swim bladders, or shrimp heads.
Traditional Cantonese-style hot pot is mostly made of various types of fish balls, shrimp fillets, fish fillets, a little bit of pork, chicken, tofu, and vegetables.
Cantonese people also define hot pot as “people standing by the side of the furnace to eat”. In fact, Cantonese-style hot pot was eaten standing up while the food was inside the pottery pot and not in a metal pot.
Chinese Sauerkraut White Meat Hot Pot
Chinese sauerkraut white meat hot pot is a famous hot pot dish originated from northeast China.
This Northeast authentic sour cabbage, also called the pickled vegetables and pickles, is prepared using Chinese cabbage and other seasonings, soaked, and fermented through Lactobacillus.
Chinese sauerkraut is crisp, salty, and sour in taste. It has a bright color, strong fragrance, and is refreshing and appetizing.
To prepare this hot pot dish, boil white meat with pickled cabbage. You can dip the sliced meat in a garlic sauce when eating.
Guizhou Sour Soup Hot Pot
Guizhou Sour Soup Hot Pot is known all over China because of its unique flavor and hypnotizing fragrance. The soup stock is usually boiled at the center table, then the diners add the raw ingredients such as the thinly sliced beef and tofu.
Its base soup is usually a leftover fermented water from the cooked glutinous rice. You can add ginger, garlic, litsea, shallot, and other seasonings in the liquid base.
Aside from the river fish, mushrooms are also among the main ingredients in making a Guizhou sour soup hot pot.
There are two types of Guizhou sour soup, the red pot and the white pot. The red Guizhou sour soup is made of tomatoes, while the white one is from glutinous rice fermentation broth.
Sichuan Hot Pot
Sichuan hot pot is a hot and spicy dish made with raw ingredients in a pot of boiling flavorful broth.
Sichuan hotpot originated in Sichuan in the early 20th century.
This Chinese food may include seafood, vegetables, rice noodles, sliced meat, offal, and Sichuan pepper. It is usually consumed in a communal pot.
For the hot dipping sauce for this spicy food, you can mix the combination of the ingredients such as soy and sacha sauce, chili oil or chili paste, rice vinegar, sesame sauce or paste, sesame oil, sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, garlic, scallions, and peanuts.
For the hot pot cooking and eating, you have thinly sliced lamb or beef, chicken, fish balls, tofu sheets, soy puffs, straw mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, fresh or rice noodles, wontons, chopped green onions, udon noodles, green leaf lettuce, and napa cabbage.
If you don’t eat spicy food, you can try other hot pot dishes.
So these are the popular hot pot types worth a try when you are exploring China.