Hot Pot Culture

Chinese hotpot, (火锅 huǒ guō), consists of a simmering metal pot with broth at the center of a table, and all raw ingredients placed beside the metal pot, so people can add and cook whatever they like in the broth.  This is a shame because while it sounds a bit like fondue, it’s far more glorious. 

Why the Chinese Like Eating Hotpot

The hotpot has a long history of over a thousand years in China. It used to be favored only in winter, but recently hotpot has been appearing on tables all year round.  Not only you cook and eat what you like as you please, but also, you make up your own favor source.  You get to do this while socializing, chatting, drinking and having fun with your friends and family.  And that hotpot is a "healthy meal". Boiling is better than frying, and bone nutrients are released into the broth. Eating hotpot can warm the body and improve circulation in winter, and increase perspiration to help cool the body in summer. Some seasonings used in hotpots can help alleviate some minor illnesses like colds, blocked sinuses, and headaches.

Hotpot Types by Regions

Two major types of hot pot in China with differently flavored broth, they are Sichuan hotpot and Guangdong hotpot.  Sichuan hotpot is famous for its numbing and spicy flavor, resulting from a special seasoning, Sichuan pepper (花椒  huā jiāoi), and other spicy ingredients like chili added to it, which marks its difference from other hotpots.  If you want to challenge your taste buds, Sichuan hot pot is highly recommended.  Different from Sichuan hotpot, Guangdong hotpot serves with clear soup base.  It brings out the meat original favor when you like to enjoy seafood, like shrimp and fish, and beef.  Other favor of hotpot soup bases also include Tom Yum, herbs, and etc.  There are another type of hotpot setting is combine both of them together on one pot, which is called a 'Mandarin ducks pot' (鸳鸯锅 yuānyangguō /ywen-yang-gwor/).  It serve a mixed group with some who don't eat spicy food.  Even better, you can have your own favor soup base without share with others.

What is in hotpot dinning

There are various ingredients used in hotpots. The meat can be beef, mutton, lamb, chicken, pork, fish, prawn, etc.  Vegetarian ingredients such as mushrooms, (sliced) potatoes, cabbage, and tofu can be quick-boiled as well, and are favored by many, particularly Chinese women who want to eat less cholesterol. Of course, you can also try whatever you like.

The ingredients are usually served with dipping sauces, made by mixing your choice of sesame sauce, chili oil, soy sauce, garlic sauce, vinegar, pepper sauce, seafood sauce, green onions, etc. You can choose what you like to fit your own taste.

Going to a hotpot place can be a lot of fun, but it can be also confusing for foreigners, especially when you don’t have a Chinese friend to help you… 

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