As things begin to cool down here in China, hot pot starts to look like a great stomach warming option. Here is a guide to help you through the types and strategies to maximize your hot pot experience.
Chongqing Spicy Hot Pot (重庆麻辣火锅)
Broth: Sichuan peppers and Meat Stock
Popular Ingredients: Beef, Lamb, Tofu, Green Vegetables, Sprouts, Noodles
This is the most popular form of hot pot in China. The specialty comes from the Sichuan peppers in the broth that will completely numb your mouth. Chongqing hot pot comes in a few different forms, such as Yuanyang (鸳鸯) hot pot and Qiaotou (桥头) hot pot, where the spicy broth and the mild broth for cooking the food is separated. It’s a good way to clear the sinuses and make you sweat!
Beijing Style Lamb Hot Pot (北京羊肉涮锅)
Broth: Bone Stock
Popular Ingredients: Lamb, Frozen Tofu, Chinese Cabbage, Mushrooms, Glass Noodles, Sesame Sauce
Also known as Mongolian style, this hot pot originates from the Qing Dynasty, focusing mostly on eating lamb. The broth is not spicy, so it’s perfect for those who can’t handle the Sichuan peppers. The lamb is sliced so thin that when you take it out of the boiling broth, it just melts in your mouth. The lamb cooks really quickly and comes with some peanut or sesame dipping sauce for extra flavor.
Cantonese Congee Hot Pot (广东粥火锅)
Specialty: Thick Soup and Seafood
Broth: Congee (rice porridge) and Meat Stock
Popular Ingredients: Fish, Prawn, Pork, Pan-fried Noodles, Tofu, Fried Dough Sticks (you tiao)
Congee is rice porridge that Cantonese people love, so they mixed it together with soup broth to get boiling congee hot pot. Typically seafood is cooked in congee hot pot, but like the other hot pots, you can eat meat and vegetables as well. The thickened broth is used to bring out the freshness of its ingredients and is kept hot throughout the meal.
Macau Bean Scoop Hot Pot (澳门豆捞)
Broth: Chicken Stock
Popular Ingredients: Beef, Pork and Fish Meatballs, Glass Noodles, Dumplings
This hot pot actually comes from Hong Kong. The specialty of this hot pot comes from the quality of its ingredients and meatballs made out of beef, fish and shrimp that you can cook. Hong Kong style hot pot typically comes with a variety of ingredients you can mix together to create your own dipping sauce for when the meatballs are ready to eat.
Yunnan Flavor Hot Pot (云南滇味火锅)
Specialty: Vegetarian (Mushrooms)
Broth: Mushroom and vegetable stock
Popular Ingredients: All kind of Mushrooms, Tofu, Sprouts, Rice Noodles, Chinese Cabbage
Heads up vegetarians, this hot pot is for you! Yunnan flavor hot pot focuses on the use of fresh vegetables. The broth is made from a variety of wild or planted mushrooms and utilizes a large number of mushrooms and other vegetables as the main ingredients to cook. You will never know how many different kinds of mushrooms there are until you try this hot pot.
Tips for Eating Hot Pot
1. If you drink a little bit of fruit juice or a yogurt drink before a spicy hot pot, your stomach will manage a little bit better.
2. Make sure you have a steady boil before you put anything in the broth, otherwise you might undercook your meat. Meatballs will float when they’re done.
3. Be aware of what your chopsticks touch. If they just touched raw meat, dunk them in boiling broth. Don’t touch raw meat and then your cooked meat right after!
4. Cook the seafood and meats first before the vegetables because leafy vegetables will soak up more of the great oils and broth flavor.
5. The tofu will be molten hot when it first comes out, so don’t rush into eating it.
6. Don’t splash. This isn’t the community pool, the boiling broth can easily burn you. Be careful.
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