Chinese Hot Pot, also known as Chinese Fondue or Steamboat, is a kind of Chinese stew, consisting of a simmering metal pot at the center of the dining table. In many areas, Hot Pot meals are often eaten in the winter.
The Chinese Hot Pot has a history of more than 1,000 years. Hot pot cooking seems to have spread to northern China during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-906). In time, regional variations developed with different ingredients such as seafood. By the Qing Dynasty, the Hot Pot became popular throughout most of China. Today in many modern homes, particularly in the big cities, the traditional coal-heated steamboat or Hot Pot has been replaced by electric, gas or induction cooker versions.
When eating the Hot Pot, a simmering metal pot always put at the center of the dining table. The cooking pot is often sunk into the table and fueled by propane, or fueled by a portable butane gas stove or hot coals. Ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table While the Hot Pot is kept simmering. Typical Hot Pot dishes include thinly sliced meat (lamb, beef, chicken, duck and mutton), leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, and seafood. Frozen meat is always sliced to thin pieces to prepare for hot pot cooking. Meat or vegetables are loaded individually into the hot cooking broth by chopsticks, and cooking time can take from 1 to 15 minutes, depending on the type of food. Meat should be cooked at the very least 20 seconds. It can be eaten bland or spicy, depending on how much spice has been put in the stew and the cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce.
Chongqing Hot Pot: Chongqing or Chungking Numb and Spicy Hot Pot is one of the most famous Hot Pot variations in China, to which a special spice known as “flower pepper” or Pepper is added. It creates a sensation on the tongue that is both spicy and burns and numbs slightly, almost like carbonated beverages. It was usual to use a variety of different meats as well as sliced mutton fillet. A Chongqing Hot Pot 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.
The Manchurian Hot Pot: this kind of Hot Pot always uses plenty of Suan cai (Chinese sauerkraut) to make the pot’s stew sour.
Cantonese Hot Pot: This kind of 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.
Hubei Hot Pot: 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.
Hainan Hot Pot: In Hainan, Hot Pots are generally served in small woks with a prepared broth containing pieces of meat. At the times of serving, the meat is not fully cooked. Approximately fifteen minutes is required before it is ready. Items supplied to be cooked in this type of Hot Pot include: mushrooms, thinly shaved beef, lettuce, and other green vegetables.