With it looking more and more like winter, nothing feels better than tucking into a pot of hotpot on a cold day. There’s more to Chinese hotpot, though, than you might think – with a huge range of diversity of flavor, presentation, ingredients, and purported health benefits, you can sample a different hotpot “faction” each day and never have the same meal twice in a week!
Here are 10 of the most popular hotpot styles you can find throughout Chinese cuisine, for sure there’s at least one on the list you haven’t tried yet!
1. Chongqing Hotpot (重庆火锅 chóng qìng huǒ guō)
If we’re talking about hotpot, Chongqing style is the first that comes to mind. The golden brass jiugongge pot (see picture below), chilis and numbing peppers, and rich beef oil, all highlight the characteristics of Chongqing hotpot.
An authentic Chongqing hotpot base starts with beef oil, and to it chilis and Chinese prickly ash (“numbing pepper”) are added, as well as more than a dozen kinds of spices and herbs thought to provide nutritional benefit. Any food cooked in the broth emerges full of a spicy and delicious flavor, adding another level to its own natural fragrance, as an interplay between tingly and spicy sensations dances on your lips.
例句 (lì jù):
麻辣 (má là): adj. numbing-spicy
nǐ xǐ huān chī má là huǒ guō ma？
你喜 欢 吃 麻 辣 火 锅 吗？
Do you like numbing-spicy hotpot?
sì chuān cài xì kǒu wèi zhòng，yǐ má là zhù chēng.
四 川 菜 系 口 味 重， 以 麻 辣 著 称。
Sichuan cuisine has a strong flavor and is famous for its spice.
2. Sichuan Hotpot (四川火锅 sì chuān huǒ guō)
One of the main differences between Sichuan hotpot and Chongqing hotpot is that Sichuan hotpot base uses vegetable oil, particularly rapeseed oi, and has a wide variety of ingredients and flavors. Though it’s still quite spicy, Sichuan hotpot doesn’t focus all of its energy on the spice, but rather can be said to have a very fragrant aroma.
3. Old Beijing Copper Pot “Shuan Rou” Hotpot (老北京铜锅涮肉 lǎo běi jīng tóng guō shuàn ròu )
For “old Beijingers”, there’s no shortage of steaming copper hotpot meals featuring thinly sliced meat dipped in a boiling broth (涮肉 shuàn ròu).
Hand cut lamb, sesame sauce, sweet garlic, sesame-coated biscuits… without any of these, no “shuan rou” meal is complete.
A raging stove, thin, rolled up slices of mutton, and deliciously blanched cabbage are all tastes of old Beijing.
4. Chaoshan Beef Hotpot (潮汕牛肉火锅 cháo shàn niú ròu huǒ guō)
Unlike many other forms of hotpot, Chaoshan beef hotpot base is very simple, usually consisting just of water, and occasionally some white radish or corn. This allows the cooked beef to retain its own delicious, natural flavor.
例句 (lì jù):
牛肉 (niú ròu ): n. beef
wǒ xǐ huān chī niú ròu.
我 喜 欢 吃 牛 肉。
I like (to eat) beef.
nǐ chī guò niú ròu huǒ guō ma？
你 吃 过 牛 肉 火 锅 吗？
Have you ever had beef hotpot?
5. Cantonese Hotpot (粤式火锅 yuè shì huǒ guō)
Over the last century, the people of Guangdong popularized a particular way of eating. In the winter months, every household sat or stood around a red clay stove to keep warm, set up a clay dish on top of the oven and filled it with broth, waited until the broth boiled, and dipped sliced beef marinated in sesame oil, sugar, salt, pork liver, and fish fillets into the pot to cook. Once the ingredients were ready, they were snapped up by eagerly waiting pairs of chopsticks that belonged to the family members standing around the pot.
Over the years some changes were made, most notably the addition of seafood, due to its abundance in the south of China, which has now become a staple of the hotpot style.
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