Chinese Hot Pot

火鍋

Hot pot is a Chinese soup containing a variety of East Asian foodstuffs and ingredients, prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table

HotPot

While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. Typical hot pot dishes include thinly sliced meat, leaf vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, tofu, and seafood. The cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce.

Hot pot seems to have originated during the Chinese Jin Dynasty where the main ingredient was meat, usually beef, mutton or horse meat. It then spread to Southern China during the Song Dynasty and was further established during the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty. In time, regional variations developed with different ingredients such as seafood. By the Manchu Qing Dynasty (AD 1644 to 1912), the hot pot became popular throughout most of Mainland China. Today in many modern Chinese homes, particularly in larger cities, the traditional coal or wood-heated steamboat or hot pot has been replaced by other fuel sources like electricity, propane, butane gas, or induction cooker versions.

Chinese Mainland Regional variations:

Different kinds of hot pots can be found in Beijing – typically, more modern eateries offer the sectioned bowl with differently flavored broths in each section. More traditional or older establishments serve a fragrant, mild broth in the hot pot, which is a large brass vessel heated by burning coals in a central chimney. The broth is boiled in a deep, donut-shaped bowl surrounding the chimney.

One of the most famous variations is the Chongqing hot pot (Chongching) má là (Chinese: 麻辣 – "numb and spicy") hot pot, to which Sichuan pepper (Chinese: 花椒 huā jiāo "flower pepper"; also known as "prickly ash") is added. It is usual to use a variety of different meats as well as sliced mutton fillet. A Chongqing hotpot is markedly different from the types eaten in other parts of China. Quite often the differences lie in the meats used, the type of soup base, and the sauces and condiments used to flavor the meat. Má là huǒ guō could be used to distinguish from simply huǒ guō in cases when people refer to the "Northern Style Hot Pot" in China. Instant-boiled mutton (Chinese: 涮羊肉; pinyin: Shuàn Yángròu) could be viewed as representative of this kind of food, which does not focus on the soup base.

Sichuan also has a number of dry hot pots such as "dry chicken hot pot" which are similar to those described above, but lack the soup base. Otherwise, the same ingredients are used and the dish served in the same manner.

In neighbouring Yunnan, although spicy broths are equally popular, there is another predominant type of hot pot that is made with various wild or planted mushrooms. The big difference between the mushroom hot pot and the spicy hot pot is that the former rarely uses spice and chili in order to keep the original flavor of the mushrooms. The mushroom hot pot is also seasonal, depending on the availability of local mushrooms.

The Manchurian hot pot (Chinese: 東北酸菜火鍋) uses plenty of suan cai (Chinese sauerkraut) (Chinese: 酸菜; pinyin: suān cài) to make the pot's stew sour.

A Cantonese variation includes mixing a raw egg with the condiments to reduce the amount of "heat" absorbed by the food, thereby reducing the likelihood of a sore throat after the steamboat meal, according to Chinese herbalist theories. It is often seen as a social event for people in Hong Kong. Another variant includes the use of rice congee in place of stock.

In Hubei, hot pot is normally prepared with hot spice and Sichuan pepper. Items supplied to be cooked in this broth include mushrooms, thinly shaved beef or lamb, lettuce, and various other green vegetables.

In Hainan cuisine hot pot is generally served in small woks with a prepared broth containing pieces of meat. At the time of serving, the meat is not fully cooked. Approximately fifteen minutes is required before it is ready to eat. Items supplied to be cooked in this type of hot pot include mushrooms, thinly shaved beef or goat meat (referred to as mutton), lettuce, and other green vegetables. This dish varies somewhat in different parts of the province.

Common ingredients

Basic stock is often made using:

o Water

o Salt

o Soup base