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Raw foods ready to be cooked
|Place of origin||China|
|Main ingredient(s)||meat, leaf vegetables, mushrooms, dumplings, and seafood|
|Literal meaning||fire pot|
|Alternative Chinese name|
|Simplified Chinese||打边炉 or 打甂炉|
|Traditional Chinese||打邊爐 or 打甂爐|
Hot pot, also known as steamboat (Singapore, Malaysia & Brunei), refers to several East Asian varieties of stew, consisting of a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. Typical hot pot dishes include thinly sliced meat, leaf vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, and seafood. Vegetables, fish and meat should be fresh. The cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce. In many areas, hot pot meals are often eaten in the winter during supper time.
The Chinese hot pot has a history of more than 1,000 years. Hot pot seems to have originated in Mongolia where the main ingredient was meat, usually beef, mutton or horse. It then spread to southern China during the Tang Dynasty and was further established during the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty. In time, regional variations developed with different ingredients such as seafood. By the Qing Dynasty (AD 1644 to 1912), 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 Today in many modern homes, particularly in the big cities, the traditional coal-heated steamboat or hot pot has been replaced by electric, propane, butane gas, or induction cooker versions.
Because hot pot styles change so much from region to region, many different ingredients are used.
Frozen meat is sliced thinly to prepare it for hot pot cooking. Slicing frozen meat this way causes it to roll up during cooking, and it is often presented as such. The common meats used include lamb, beef, chicken, duck, mutton, and others. The cooking pot is often sunk into the table and fueled by propane. Or alternatively above the table and fueled by a portable butane gas stove or hot coals. 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 depending on the thickness of meat. Other hot pot dishes include leafy vegetables, mushrooms, seafood, and noodles. It can be eaten bland to very spicy, depending on how much spice has been put in the stew.
There are often disagreements between different styles of hot pot enthusiasts. Some like to place items into the hot pot at a relaxed, leisurely pace, enjoying the cooking process, while others prefer to put everything in at once and wait for the hotpot to return to a boil. Occasionally due to evaporation the boiled water needs to be refilled. Usually the stew is strong and zesty enough to not require adding more condiments.
Different kinds of hot pots can be found in Beijing – typically, more modern eateries offer the sectioned bowl with differently flavored broths in each section. More traditional or older establishments serve a fragrant, mild broth in the hot pot, which is a large brass vessel heated by burning coals in a central chimney. The broth is boiled in a deep, donut-shaped bowl surrounding the chimney.
One of the most famous variations is the Chongqing (Chungking) má là (Chinese: 麻辣 – "numb and spicy") hot pot, to which Sichuan pepper (Chinese: 花椒 huā jiāo "flower pepper"; also known as prickly ash) is added. Combined with spicy ingredients like chili, it creates a sensation on the tongue that is both spicy and burns and numbs slightly, almost like carbonated beverages. It is usual to use a variety of different meats as well as sliced mutton fillet. A Chongqing hotpot 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. "má là huǒ guō" could be used to distinguish from simply "huǒ guō" in cases when people refer to the "Northern Style Hot Pot" in China. "Shuàn yáng ròu", Chinese: 涮羊肉 (instant-boiled lamb) could be viewed as representative of this kind of food, which does not focus on the soup base.
A Cantonese 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.
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.
In Hainan cuisine hot pot is generally served in small woks with a prepared broth containing pieces of meat. At the time of serving, the meat is not fully cooked. Approximately fifteen minutes is required before it is ready to eat. Items supplied to be cooked in this type of hot pot include mushrooms, thinly shaved beef or goat meat (referred to as mutton), lettuce, and other green vegetables. This dish varies somewhat in different parts of the province.
Sukiyaki is one of the most popular hot pot dishes among the Japanese, and undoubtedly the most well-known hot pot overseas, particularly in English-speaking parts of the world. Sukiyaki hot pot is served with sliced beef, vegetables and tofu in a sweet sauce based on soy sauce, which is only used in small amounts, enough for the ingredients to merge in a shallow iron pot. Before being eaten, the ingredients are usually dipped in a small bowl of raw, beaten eggs.
Shabu-shabu is another popular hot pot in Japan. Shabu-shabu hot pot is prepared by submerging a very thin slice of meat or a piece of vegetable in a pot of broth made with kelp (kombu) and swishing it back and forth several times. The familiar swishing sound is where the dish gets its name. Shabu-shabu directly translates to "swish swish." Cooked meat and vegetables are usually dipped in ponzu or "goma" (sesame seed) sauce before eating. Once the meat and vegetables have been eaten, leftover broth from the pot is customarily combined with the remaining rice, and the resulting soup is usually eaten last.
Because shabu-shabu hot pot cooks beef blue rare to rare, it's preferred to use high-grade Japanese beef. Typically, shabu-shabu is considered a fine dining dish, due to the quality of the meat used, and the price charged for it at restaurants in Japan.
Both Sukiyaki and shabu-shabu, rice or noodle is cooked with remained broth along with additional ingredients at the very end of the meal. This menu is called "shime", ending the meal. Traditionally, hot pots are considered fall and winter dishes.
In Thailand, hotpot is called Thai suki, although it is quite different from a Japanese shabu-shabu variation called sukiyaki. Originally a Chinese-style hot pot, the number of ingredients to choose from was greatly increased and a Thai-style dipping sauce with chili sauce, chilli, lime and coriander leaves was added.
- Clay pot cooking - referred to as "hot pot" or "hotpot" on Chinese restaurant menus in English-speaking regions
- Lancashire hotpot - a dish referred to as "hot pot" (or "hotpot") in Britain
- Yong tau foo
- Fondue Bourguignonne & Fondue chinoise
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