Hot pot is called huoguo in Chinese, which literally means "fire pot". It originated in Mongolia more than 1000 years ago.
Many varieties of hot pot exist, as different regions of China have their own methods and ingredients. Traditionally, people gather and eat around one large pot placed in the center of a table. This circular formation symbolizes unity and good luck for the whole family.
When you eat hot pot in restaurants nowadays, either a simmering pot of broth is placed in the middle of your table, or a mini hot pot is given to each individual. I like the mini hot pot better because I can then just create my own stew and turn my hotpot into what I like best.
Here's are some of my preferences for hot pot:
What do I order?
1.Broth: Chicken, Hot Oil Spicy (Ma La), Chinese Herbs, or Combination (Yuan Yang)
a.Meat slices: Beef slices, pork slices, lamb slices, chicken slices
b.Surimi: Fish balls, squid balls, pork balls, beef balls, chicken Balls
c.Seafood: Crab, shrimp, squid
d.Different types of tofu
3.Veggies: Chinese cabbage, spinach, mushrooms
6.Sauce: the restaurant either gives you sauce or you can mix your own. The most popular sauces are Chinese BBQ (Sha Cha), Ponzu, and sesame sauce. My favorite is Ponzu sauce, a citrus-seasoned soy sauce, and I usually add cilantro and scallions to it. You can personalize your sauce with almost any herbs.
How do you cook your hot pot?
1.Cook the harder textured and more durable foods first, including cabbage, surimi, dumplings, and tofu. Wait until the water is boiling before adding them. You can either throw everything in together, or add small portions at a time.
2.When everything is boiled, it’s best to take some of the food out and eat it. Then you can add some other softer textured and less durable foods, like seafood and meat slices. Seafood usually cooks in a minute or two andthe thinly sliced meat takes about 30 seconds to be fully cooked.
3.Repeat step one and two at your own pace.
4.I usually add the noodles last because they tend to soak up the broth. But if you want to eat them earlier that’s fine too. When the broth level reduces, you can always ask for more. It’s free.
5.Some people like to drink the broth at the end of their meal. Some like to drink it with their noodles. I like to drink it intermittently throughout my meal.
What’s the secret of hot pot? I personally think the secret of hot pot is to simply have fun and enjoy the experience! Hot pot is about all the diners helping cook and eat as a team. Hot pot is about participation, eating, sharing stories and laughing. Enjoy!
CiCi Li is the host ofCiCi’s Food ParadiseonNTD Television. Join her for food adventures and discover the endless wonders of Food Paradise. You can stay in touch with her onFacebook.