Editor's Note: According to a report by Dianping.com, hotpot is China's favorite meal, which makes sense. It is communal dining in its most purest form. Friends and family gather around one boiling pot of broth, selflessly adding strips of lamb meat and fresh veggies, so that each person at the table can feast until they've had their fill. A culinary analogy Marx and Mao could sink their teeth into. Chongqing style ma la hotpot is the most popular, but try these other flavors around China. This translated article introduces you to hot pot styles around the country.
China’s huoguo (火锅) has a number of names in different provinces. The dish is called shua guozi (刷锅子) in Beijing, and da bian lu (打边炉) in Guangdong. Amongst foreigners, huoguo is known as hotpot. Hotpot was originally only eaten in the winter in China, but it is becoming a popular summer dish as well. It’s easy to find hotpot in any season throughout China. In addition, each region has a slightly different take on hotpot. Here are the different varieties you can find throughout China:
1) Old Beijing-style Hotpot (正宗老北京火锅): Traditional Beijing hotpot is served with lamb. Charcoals are used to heat the boiling water, which is served in a copper pot. The lamb and other ingredients served should be fresh. The stream wafting from the hotpot will take you back to Old Beijing. Beijing hotpot is generally cheap, boasts unique flavors. Hotpot joints in Beijing are also known for their attentive service.
2) Chongqing Hotpot (重庆火锅): Hotpot was originally eaten in China by families that lived near docks and wharfs. Life was often difficult for people living near docks, as they were generally very poor. All they had to eat were scraps and bits of food. Everyone in the neighborhood would eat together, each family chipping in a bit of food into a large communal pot. The villagers would divide the pots into nine sections so that four or five people could easily eat at once. Today, hotpots are often divided into nine sections. Soon, villagers began to sell hotpot on the side of the road to travelers and it became a popular dish. Eventually, hotpot shops began to open in Chongqing. Traditional hotpot restaurants in Chongqing use the old method of dividing the pot into nine sections.
3) Guizhou Dong “Cow Dung” Hotpot (贵州侗族“牛粪”火锅): Despite the name, Guizhou’s “cow dung” hotpot does not contain animal poo. The “cow dung” is actually a special beef intestine broth made by the Dong people of Guizhou. The dish is generally only made during the Chinese New Year. There are two special ingredients: one is from inside a cow’s small intestine, and is expensive, while the other is from the large intestine, and is cheap. The cow is fed high-quality grass and herbal Chinese medicine the night before, and is slaughtered the day after. Then, the special beef intestine broth is made with salt, oil, spices, and pepper. The hotpot dish is a rare Guizhou delicacy, and those who want to try it must make arrangements in advance to try it.
4) Suzhou & Hangzhou Chrysanthemum Hotpot (苏杭菊花火锅): According to Chinese legends, Suzhou and Hangzhou chrysanthemum hotpot was first made by the Empress Dowager Cixi. The dish is delicious and has a sweet unique fragrance. The dish is made by placing fresh, washed chrysanthemum petals in boiling water. Then the petals are strained out and chicken broth or other broth is added. Then vegetables, sliced meat or fish are thrown in. Finally, after a minute, the chrysanthemum petals are put back in the mix and can be eaten with the rest of the cooked food.
5) Zhejiang Ba Sheng Hotpot (浙江八生火锅): Zhejiang ba sheng hotpot is made with chicken breast, chicken gizzard, chicken kidney and other traditional Zhejiang ingredients. The meat, along with four types of vegetables, is dipped into a hot and spicy broth and then dipped in a hot and spicy sauce, soy sauce, or other kind of condiment, and then eaten. The dish is unique, healthy and delicious!
6) Sichuan Pork Belly Hotpot (四川毛肚火锅): Named after its main ingredient, Sichuan stomach hotpot features a spicy broth and unique flavors. The hotpot is made with chicken stock, chicken, sea cucumber, pork belly, pork skin, and bean sprouts. In some cases, fresh bone broth or pork belly soup is used at the hotpot base.
7) Yunnan-Style Hotpot (云南滇味火锅): Fresh vegetables are the main ingredient of Yunnan-style hotpot. The dish is also often made with slices of ham, sliced pork, chicken, and fish, and as well as mushrooms, fungus, and chrysanthemum. The ingredients are dipped in chili powder and sesame oil before consumption, making for a very fresh and spicy dish.
8) Guangdong Seafood Hotpot (广东海鲜火锅): Guangdong-style hotpot is made with squid, crab, chicken, beef, squid, sea cucumbers, and vegetables. The seafood is poured into the boiling broth first with oil and cooked. Then the chicken and beef are added after the seafood is eaten. While the meat is cooking, the mushroom and vegetables are added to the pot.
9) Taiwanese Hotpot (台湾火锅): Taiwanese hotpot, often eaten at afternoon tea, combines traditional elements with Western and Japanese flavors. Hotpot in Taiwan is similar to Japan’s shabu-shabu. Taiwanese hotpot features a fix of vegetables, fish balls, beef balls, sliced meat and fish, tofu, noodles, all in peanut seasame and shacha dipping sauces.
Source: DW News
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